Thursday, June 9, 2016

Baby Steps

I want to thank everyone who commented yesterday and was able to keep the conversation adult. I know back in the day my blog was scattered, offensive and immature but I sometimes try to be a smidgen more professional these days when blogging. It was a breath of fresh air to see so many comments from those who prefer the breeds I don't, and were OK admitting they didn't enjoy TBs either. I hope I didn't offend anyone, that was not my intention, and I am happy there was good discussion. I love the blogging world!

Moving on.

I put off this post (surprise surprise) because I wasn't sure if "Bacardi good behavior "was a one ride" fluke or not and my last post about him was incredibly emo & I was having another mental breakdown about horses in general.

Past that now (will this be a monthly thing for me??) and moving on from the second guessing.

I have ridden B every day for the last week, with the exception of yesterday, which was amazing. I wish I could do this every week because unlike Yankee, he benefits from work everyday. I had a LOOOONG weekend due to the PT's being out of office for a medical seminar, so I wasn't required to show up to work...which was incredible for my pony time.

repeat media, don't care
I can't remember which day it was, but the first ride back after the disaster that was our shitshow ride was AMAZING. I decided to switch it up and do flatwork only and focused on stretching through the bridle for about 20 minutes in just the walk and trot. He was brilliant. Almost too brilliant. I dismounted incredibly skeptical, wondering if he would be the same the next day.

The ride after was another flat day, and B maintained greatness.

Such a good baby
I won;t go into too much detail, because how fun can reading about flatwork be? Like "oh, yeah he was being really good and responding to my inside leg like a champ. Doing normal dressage  horse stuff. Also, he cantered straight and picked up all his leads calmly and was adjustable and..."

Pretty much the same everytime, amirite.

The next ride I wanted to bring back some jumping. My friend L showed up again, which is always lovely because  get media and second opinions! She's a really good rider and I enjoy her company at the barn.

For always, B has had a little issue with quickness in-between lower height fences. At first it was because of weakness and as most of us know, weak horses tend to snowball over courses. Then it morphed into gusto after he learned how to carry himself and realized jumping was best. Now its flat out not listening to half halts and blowing through fences because they aren't tall enough. Literally. He sometimes takes out the entire fence because he's traveling so far DOWN and refusing to listen to half halts and effectively jumps downward....its possible.

Case and point.
This type of jumping is no bueno and not something I like to encourage. We've tried grids. We've tried trotting fences (hint; he gallops at them anyways). We've tried half halts. I tried everything I could think of to get him off his forehand and RESPECT the fences. Not like he can't jump the height. He's cleared 3'6 easily before, when he's paying attention.

First thing I did was change him back to his golden wings elevator bit. 

Notice anything different besides the bit?
Then, my friend L got on him and showed me a little trick she uses with her reining horses.

Yes, reining.

We would hop  him over two crossrails, at his preferred speed (yes, his speed...which is full on gallop) and then halt him HARD after the line, about 4 strides after.

It was messy. It was ugly. It looked a little like this..

Such impulsion. Very canter. Much uphill.
A few things you might notice. I am not sitting down. We tried that and it lit him UPPPP. We realized that if we ask for the halt with pulsating hands (so we aren't ripping his face off) he has less to fight and brace against  (his favorite) and we aren't jamming down on his back. 

Then, once he was halted, we asked for a turn on the haunches 180*, moving his shoulders while his butt stayed planted. Then, canter off and do the line again. Wash. rinse. repeat.

(This is what I referenced in my last post about teaching him in about 10 minutes flat. He went from not knowing how to do this, to doing it the second you moved your hands and asked with your heel. Genius level when he wants to be.)

After 4 tries only, he was like, "OH OKAY, sit back and slow down after fences, I get it now".

Literally four tries.

Complete gentleman
After that he was a dream after and in-between fences.  I kept practicing string together the outside line, the liverpool and the oxer line and he maintained even rhythm and consistency throughout. #PROUD

I try to keep the fences lower for work like this, because it is more difficult and there is no need to always school 3'3. It is fun, but not necessary. Especially because when I do ride, most of the rides consist of flatwork then some light jump school work. 

After the coursework, I felt good and confident to send him through the grid thinking he would be abel to maintain a balanced uphill canter.


We still have a lot of work to do when it comes to stringing together a lot of fences in a grid. He tends to get so so so strung out and the good effects of the grid never really take place. I've never seen a horse turn a one stride into a bounce before, but he has the stunning ability to jump a grid of 3 fences in 3 bounds, no joke.

First, he tranters over the ground pole...

And proceeds to bounce through the grid like it was set to bounce distances. All I could really do was laugh, because the amount of athleticism it takes to do that and not knock any down was impressive. It also felt really good, which is weird, haha.

long spot much
L was videoing and at the end of one pass through I was cackling and said "WHAT was THAT". 

Eventually, I was able to get him to sit back a little bit and slow his roll through the grid, but for now, I think I will focus less on gridwork and more another things. Sorely tempted to jack them up to 3ft 3in and see his that backs him off, but that smells like disaster. He did do remarkably better though when I bumped the last oxer up to 2'9...

Much better with some more height 
The next day I repeated the exercise L taught us over the outside crossrail line and no fights were had and he halted calmly and without issue.

SO that was neat.

The rest of the week I focused on flatwork and hacks and gave him the day off yesterday. Today will be an other jump school and hack before I leave for KY for the weekend.

I'm running another Tough Mudder saturday in the 93* heat, so if I don't return its because I died.


  1. We've done the HALT HARD method once in a (long) while at my barn with a horse who gets very rushy and extremely heavy over smaller fences (not Roger). While the first few times look messy and craptastic, I definitely think it works once the horse figures out that they don't actually have to flail and race over smaller jumps. Obviously it shouldn't be the first and only option for helping solve the problem, but IMO it's an effective way to get the job done!

    Also, I totes feel you on the bouncing through a grid thing: Roger bounced through a one-stride grid before, just for funsies. Athletic and scopey OTTBs FTW :)

  2. I have periodically used halting on strong and heavy horses that take over and it's amazing how well it works. You only have to pretend you are going to halt and they steady. Sounds like really good progress. I wonder if you used placing rails through the grid to make him think more about his feet

    1. Oh I've tried. It makes the situations worse usually because he will step ON them and then trip and fall. No good

    2. Yea don't do that then. Bounce grids? Three in a row?

  3. Ah yes, the stop method. I just posted about this a few weeks ago myself, it works quite well for our very "forward" mounts. Repetition is key. I speak from experience. And experiencing.

  4. Noooo, no bouncing one strides that is how you get a concussion and squishy brains oh em gee you R giving me flashbacks ahhh dyingggg.

  5. Haha yeah C is not the best at grids (or jumping in general). When I've watched horses like him go through the grid, it's pretty critical that you teach them how to figure it out at lower heights and slower speeds--your HALT NAOW exercise on steroids basically--otherwise you'll get what Carly is talking about and ain't noone got time for that.

  6. yay for finding a tactic that works!! halting straight after a fence is SO USEFUL omg. tho somehow i've never quite perfected it with my mare... started with halting straight when we reach the rail... but now she won't stop before that. it's kinda embarrassing actually haha.

  7. What a great tactic for reining in his enthusiasm! Don't you love horse friends??? :D I'm glad you were able to turn him around. He looks so gorgeous and powerful and amazing in those photos, even when he's doing it wrong LOL!!! I'm glad things are back to being good. Maybe it really was just the vaccines jacking with him. It can do some weird stuff to them. Maybe you can see if your vet will leave the vaccines with you so you can do them separately spread out over a few days to see if that helps?

  8. Ah yes I have also played with the halt exercise. Works well