Thursday, September 24, 2015

Bali jumps!!

As promised, here are more details on how Bali has been schooling. The short answer: he's doing really well and I am having *so much* fun with him! But I know there are a lot of OTTB fans out there so I'll write out the long version too lol.

grazing like a very happy horse
And there's evidence that my nefarious plan for getting the students excited about him again is working. A bunch of the kids wanted to watch me ride and were therefore willing to take video. Score for media! And job security for Bali!!

he's not a terrible mover! (also try not to die of cuteness looking at that tiny kiddo on Cheyenne lol)
My first ride with Bali did not find him to be super maneuverable. He bulged a lot, kicked out at leg aids, and tried to run into the other horse in the ring (ridden by a first time student... so... definitely not crash proof!).

canter is coming along quite nicely
This fourth ride found him much improved in that regard. There were two lessons in the arena already - two beginner w-t riders that didn't steer well but mostly stuck together, and two more advanced w-t-c riders who had better (but still not great) steering and were working on trotting ground poles. 

lots of pats for the good boy
So, lots of traffic. And Bali was foot perfect. He's not super balanced through tight turns but proved to be handy enough to make them happen and avoid making roadkill out of the students.

"I am Bali, vanquisher of tiny cross rails!!"
His left lead is becoming more reliable - tho he's super unbalanced and rushy in that direction. I really want to avoid punishing 'forward,' but can also see how that canter can scare students (it feels bolt-y). So lots of small circles and using legs to rate him. And oddly enough, this horse might actually have a better half halt than Isabel lol. The brakes are not good yet tho, despite his laziness.

apparently will need bigger fences to encourage better efforts
The right lead has real moments of niceness. He responds SUPER well to thigh/knee pressure and half halts from my core. Tho he doesn't really love me sitting down on him right now but improves as he loosens up.

just out and about for a casual canter
His trot doesn't have great rhythm yet but is also improving. Part of that is my struggle in finding the point between 'forward' and 'balance.' He must move forward off the leg - that's non-negotiable - but we also shouldn't be running. Again I think he'll eventually slide to the 'lazy and slow' end of the scale so I'll also have to be careful not to let him get too dull.

oooh look, a fence!!
He's also a little inconsistent at different places in the ring - speeding up at the far end coming back towards the gate. And he's not great about corners yet. I think that's mostly a function of habits and lack of balance.

he's quite careful!
The jumping was really great. He stayed with me really well, and did NOT morph into a fire breathing dragon. I kept it super simple - circling over the same jump from both directions, starting out by trotting a tiny X and then building it into small vertical. He remained unfazed.

the left lead steadily improved as we continued
And in fact he allowed me to really work on the canter rather than the jumps. His tendency is to jump from a really gappy distance if we don't make it to the fence quite right, and then he lands really unbalanced. So I tried to ride as if I were in a Dan lesson - and really collect the canter and get more lift through the shoulders.

he occasionally lands in a bit of a heap tho lol
Bali might be a little more naturally uphill than Isabel, so it actually was maybe easier to achieve a better canter - but he's obviously much greener. Plus he's still not very fit so he got tired and a little heavier pretty quickly.

you'd stare at that adorable neck too
But really, he's quite uncomplicated. A definite mark in his favor! Didn't get excited about the jumps at all - just kept on plugging away and listening carefully, which was great bc we spent a good bit of time dodging traffic haha. Maybe that actually worked in my favor? We had to steer so much that he really had no choice but to tune in? Idk lol, but he was very good.

video here - complete with adorable tiny lesson student cameos

He's just so much fun. Very different from Isabel - and very similar to the horses I rode in college (like Lad!!). I might not be great at training horses to be very fancy or correct or whatever, but I can get young OTTBs going well enough for a lesson program. And I'm looking forward to upping the jumping ante with this guy and practicing course work!

24 comments:

  1. Aw I love him! What a good egg. I think he'll do just fine with the advanced lesson kids. Also definitely died of cute caused by the little nugget on the paint pony!!

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    1. i agree - once he consistently goes like he did for this ride everything will be gravy! (and we seriously have *the cutest* lesson kids EVAR lol)

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  2. Gahhhh I think he's super cute! I see SO MUCH of Roger in him, and will tell you that OTTBs give you their heart and try their very hardest, and it seems that's exactly what Bali is doing! Bali also seems like a quick learner, he's improved so much in just 4 rides.

    Keep up the good work, and you'll be on your way to becoming an OTTB lover too :)

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    1. lol you forget i primarily rode green bean ottbs through college. they're all over this blog if you're looking (check out that hyperlink in the last paragraph for more info - there are posts from your blog hops detailing it all out haha).

      seriously tho - Bali is super adorable and is doing great. the improvement in the video you see above didn't stick after a couple days off - it's sadly not going to be that easy - but he will come around soon enough!

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  3. Once he gets stronger, the balance and feel of his gaits will improve, I'm sure!!

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    1. that's the hope!! tho i'm also hoping i can get him fitter and stronger without also making him fresher and hotter lol - always a balancing act with babies!

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  4. Replies
    1. so far so good! he wasn't quite as 'improved' after a couple days off (#babyhorseproblems) but hopefully the general trajectory will stay positive :)

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  5. Replies
    1. ugh i really just want to squeeze his little cheeks!! (except he'd probably bite me lol)

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  6. He is SO cute, you guys look like a great pair! Fingers crossed he keeps improving and he gets to stick around.

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    1. my fingers are seriously crossed!! he is SO MUCH more like the horses i always used to ride - it almost feels like coming home again. plus i don't look quite as busy and ridiculous when i'm on a bigger horse vs. on isabel lol

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  7. Super fun! I have so much love for ottbs and their quirkiness! I also adore your nefarious plan.

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    1. haha he is certainly quirky! (and i am certainly devious so... yea lol)

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  8. He's cute. I'm happy he's improving--it's great to see an OTTB doing well.

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    1. i always like to see horses happy with their jobs :)

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  9. Replies
    1. He can be really good! The trick will be gettin him consistent :)

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  10. Can't wait to see how he progresses!

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