Thursday, December 29, 2011

Good Memory

I went out to ride Olly yesterday. It was finally sunny. I dug out his French link D-ring. the plan was to do some transitions and maybe lead changes if he was cooperating. the elevator is good for brakes, but no so good for bending. I also made sure to grab his open front boots and bells.

I have kind of let the BRH just get used to me being on him again over the past few rides. Just some long hacks and a a few breezes in the downed corn fields. He seems to be telling me that he isn't as out of shape as I think. Last weekend we went on a 4.5 mile hack and although he was ready to go home, he could have gone further.
Since he has showed me he wants to work and is willing to put all of his BRH effort into our rides already, we did arena work.
We stared out with just warming up at a walk. A few laps each direction and then did medium size circles at each corner. Olly was less than thrilled with this. I could see and feel how bored he was. I gathered up the reins and said "trot-trot!" He instantly picked up a trot. I know that his muscle tone is almost nothing after being off for almost a year, so I made sure to give him breaks. We trotted around the arena until he would give me his head and hold it for a few strides. It felt so good to feel his hind end reach under and him flex his back. After twice around the arena I started doing the circles at each corner. He had to focus more. He was moving at a fast speed and I was making him use himself more. He did well. We reversed. His right was a bit more sloppy than his left, but that is normal to have to work harder on the right side for him. We focused on the little things. Bending, but not over bending. Clean, round circles and an even steady pace. The only thing he had issues with was holding his collection for more than a half of a lap, which I am totally ok with.
The next step was cantering. Normally, I would have waited, but he was doing so well. I gave him a few turns around the arena to recover from the trotting circles. He wanted to slow his pace and look around, which is ok, but now is time to work. I pushed him into a good swinging walk on a long rein.
After our recover laps, I  gathered the reins and asked him for a canter. He felt like he was going to pick it up from a walk, but he dropped to his forhand and broke. I know at certain times that you need to transition from a trot to a canter, but I wanted to see if he would collect enough to go from a walk to a canter. We tried it a few more times. His focus was slipping. He was noticing more things, like the hunter walking in the field and the wind blowing the trees and bushes. I stopped in the middle of the arena and picked up a short lunge whip, it hardly had a tail. I hopped back on and carried it on my left side (to aide the right). Just by having it I could feel his back shorten and his hind end start working more efficently.
Since I have attended the Lucinda Green clinic in 2010, I have carried a crop or a whip. Just by having it does wonders.
I had the whip on my left side, just in front of my knee. I let him do one lap of a free walk, just so he knew that I wasn't using the whip as a punishment. I gathered the reins again, made sure he was slightly bent to the right, left heel and pushed him into his right lead. He held the collection for a few strides and then I felt him starting to fall on his shoulder again. I instantly squeezed and bent him into a circle. We circled a tidge larger than a medium, but it helped him control his speed and push under himself at the same time. We continued around the arena and at the next corner we turned to the diagonal. I had to use a lot of leg almost exaggerating my aids to help him. We prepared for the simple change. I broke him to a trot and asked for the left lead. It took more than two strides for him to pick up a canter, but he did get the correct lead. However, he dropped his shoulder when he turned. No Bueno. We repeated the drill a few more times. I alternated leads and corners just so he wouldn't anticipate. By the time we had completed about 5 more tries, he was knocking out the leads almost perfect. I had given him a few breaks in between, just to make sure he wasn't over working his muscles, or lack of muscles. I was completely satisfied with his effort and output. He gave 100% .

This weekend I will be taking my camera and doing a transition video for my Ft. Eustis horsey friend Maddi. She has a nine year old OTTB named Robelina, that she is wanting to jump with. Robbi has been out to pasture for quite some time and is needing some extra work.

Maddi and her OTTB Robbi

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Chirstmas From the BigRedHorse

Merry Christmas! Today I went out to see Olly. Normally, I take him an apple or some carrots. Today I took him a candy cane. I walked up to the fence and called "hey BRH!!" He neighed and started towards me. I met him in the middle of the paddock. I put his halter on, took a few pictures and gave him his candy cane, which by the way he refused to eat. "Mom, how am I suppose to get into shape when you're feeding me candy canes??!!"
 You can see his excitement...

I was totally not dressed to ride. I just wanted to give him a hug. I had UGGs and legwarmers on, but decided to throw the lead rope over his neck and swing on. There is a small arena where I board him. It's slightly larger than a round pen. I could do like MAYBE two jumps in it, but that would be tight.

I hopped on and walked a few laps both ways. Trot. At first he had a nice easy to sit trot. We went both directions. After a few laps it started getting faster, he wanted to go. good time to work on the sitting trot, I let him go at his pace. I brought him back down to a walk and gathered him up, as much as you can in a halter and lead, and asked for a canter. It took two strides to get there, but after not being ridden for so long, I let it go. We cantered around one lap and I brought him to a walk to reverse.
To the left was even better, but that is expected...he is left handed like his mom. I brought him to a trot for a lap, broke to a walk and picked up the right lead. After two laps I thought simple change in the middle. Now, this arena is small. No, SMALL. As big as his stride is he will only have say three strides to make the change. I was trying it anyway. We were on the right lead, turned diagonally and broke to a trot for the simple change. I sat three strides and cued for the left. Boom. Left lead and we're done. I was thrilled!! I let him canter on for a few strides and let him walk. Next thought? Yup, flying change.
This time, I gathered the, well, reins or lead and asked him to use his back a bit. He understood what I was asking, but the effort was minimal when riding bareback with a halter. I decided to set him up for success and asked for the right lead. He changes to the left easier. One lap around to the right and I turned. I changed his bend and one stride before we needed to change he picked up his left shoulder, changed and continued on his left lead. I was so ecstatic!!! I gave him lots of pats and hugs. He's not as rusty as I thought. I only rode for a like 15-20 minutes and ended on that good note. I hopped off and let him eat some grass. Tomorrow i don't have to work, we will be doing some more arena work and then a good hack. I need to find some small little logs to pop over.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


As you know, the BigRedHorse and I have been separated for almost a year now. I recently moved him to my hometown in Indiana. There was good reason for this. I have relocated. I made it to town late Saturday (26Nov) night and went to visit my BRH the next morning. I was unable to ride him BC it was FREAKING FREEZING outside and rainy.

I did return a few days later to climb aboard the fire breathing dragon.  I searched for all the tack that has been packed away and remember all the good times that was associated with it. I knew that this would be a short ride BC of how out of shape he would be, but I didn't care. To feel him under me would for just a few minutes would be all worth it.

I decided it would be wise to use the elevator since it would be his first ride with me in almost a year. I would probably need some brakes.

I took my time brushing and saddling him. It was like I had never left. He was behaved and polite. He enjoyed the rub down. I made a mental note to buzz the mane off ASAP. As I was finishing brushing him I inspected his tail. For those of you who know me and my tail fetishes--you may want to sit down. I knew and prepared myself for a tangled mess, what I didn't prepare myself for is a knotted rats nest.

I almost fell over and had a heart attack. My artwork that I had worked so hard on for years to grow out and bang. The beautiful glossy tail that was a masterpiece was now a bundled, knotted ball of protein. I slowly backed away and tried not to look back. I will be investing in some sort of lubricant (WD40, I was advised) to fix this problem on the next half-way decent warm day.

After I got over the mess we will refer to as "the embarrassment" I put his bridle on and attempted to get on. I say attempted BC the BRH seem to have forgotten that we stand still for mom to get on. No worries....he was quickly reminded.

I was prepared. I fully expected him to be the fire breathing dragon with bucking on the first ride. To my surprise he wasn't. We walked and talked about the past year, filling in the blanks. It felt great to feel his feet move under me, I could feel his muscles work. I could feel his back engage and disengage. I could definitely tell he was out of shape, but Olly seemed to think otherwise. It was almost like he wanted to pick up where we had left off. I could feel the want.
I asked him for a trot. He picked it up with ease, but easily fell out of form. I didn't worry about it, I was just happy to be near him again. We trotted for about a 100 yards before the BRH started to snort and cough. And I realized that my posting was a bit tiring too.We broke to a walk. I let him recover, which was a lot faster than I had expected. I didn't have my GPS with me, but I will be charging it. We have a lot of work to do. After recovering I wanted to see how the canter was. The que's were a bit rusty, but he did get the correct lead. It only took about 5 strides before he was pulling on the bit. I resisted to let him go. We were on a safe sandy drive, but the first ride in almost a year, not the smartest thing. I was however, completely surprised that he didn't buck what-so-ever. I whoa-ed him to a walk and we turned around to head back.

Looking down the lane on the way home he started to get excited. Ears perked and feet barely touching the ground. I kept telling him he would be sore tomorrow if he didn't relax, but he wouldn't listen. I let him do another canter set, recover and then a trot set. He seemed content as did I. It was great to be with him again.
We made it back to the barn. Our ride was only about 20 minutes, but I didn't want to push too much. It was more about being with him, than actually doing anything. I think I spent longer brushing him and talking to him than I did riding him. I missed him more than I even realized.