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