Monday, September 26, 2016

stepping up + stepping out

It's kinda crazy - I had been riding only 1-2x per week for so long that I grew unaccustomed to writing more than one riding recap per week. And even before that, often with Isabel, our schooling rides were generally uneventful enough that they often didn't inspire dedicated posts.

"oh hai guys!" - Charlie
But now with Charlie I'm doing my damnedest to get in as much saddle time as possible (or at least, high frequency even if the rides themselves are on the shorter side) and everything is still so shiny and new that I want to write about it all.

so quiet in the cross ties. could literally stand for hours.
For instance, I had been really looking forward to our first ride in real shoes, post racing-plates. Obviously that got put on hold when Charlie had a mild bout of colic later that day... But Brita came out the next day to meet him and watch us go!

at present the only existing picture of us doing anything more than standing/walking
Unfortunately Charlie seemed to be feeling the change in hoof shape and angles and was a bit more body sore and tight through his back than normal. Kind of a bummer, but also kinda to be expected. This guy's level of soreness is very day-to-day right now and is mostly trending in the right direction. It's just going to take time.

riding in company
All the same tho, it was a good ride and we got to check off more firsts - such as riding around jumping and cantering horses. Charlie didn't seem to care much about it, and doesn't get race-y when a horse near him goes faster. I took care to pay to more or less face Charlie toward other horses when they were jumping or cantering in our direction... But again, it didn't seem to matter.

He is drawn in toward the group tho - and the gate. Nothing bad or naughty, just still learning the rules.

"hacking out"
It was good tho. We added in more cantering - this time a full lap wherein I really had to push that big bad wild race horse to keep going past the gate lol. And then afterwards Brita accompanied us on our first "hack out" through the green spaces around the arena. It's a far cry from the trails at Isabel's barn lol, but it's a start!

already crazy about this horse
This past weekend was a show at Charlie's barn, ST, so the place was run amok by middle and high school hunter eq riders and their ponies. This merited some attention from Charlie (esp the PA system) - particularly when we went out for a little ground work lesson with my trailer loading guru (that will probably get a post of its own).

saddle pad from Alli <3
Mostly tho he was fine to do whatever. Charlie's version of getting "up" is to stop and stare with his head sky high. But like... that's kinda it. I'll take it!

Obviously bc of the show running in the outdoor we were relegated to the indoor for our ride. It was freshly dragged after serving as the warm up ring all day and idk if it was the footing or Charlie just acclimating to life but he felt WAY better through his body and feet than he had just the day prior.

girth from Brita <3
We even attempted our first canter in the indoor! Misfired twice into the right lead but nbd, I just brought Charlie back to trot and continued on at trot until we were in a good balance and rhythm again. I've been asking for canter in the same places in the arena just to try to help him understand the cue better - but I also want to avoid anticipation.

Again, tho, it didn't seem to matter. He just went. Those turns in the indoor are miiiiighty tight for him right now tho lol!

dressage tack!!
We repeated mostly the same exercise with mostly the same results yesterday too - this time in dressage tack tho! Hard to believe, but literally every single element of Isabel's dressage outfit (saddle, girth, bridle and bit) fit Charlie. Crazy, right?!?

instant fancy dressage horse, just add PS of Sweden bridle
And actually I think the dressage saddle (with the black medium gullet plate) fits him a bit better than my jump saddle (that has the blue medium wide gullet plate). The jump saddle sits down a little bit on him, and during this ride in the dressage saddle he was noticeably lighter in his front end and not pulling me out of the saddle as much.

Plus we were able to string together steps at a time of relaxed almost-swinging trot! Of course it helped that Charlie felt the least body sore he's been since coming home - so maybe he's just getting more comfortable pushing more from behind. All good steps in the right direction.

we've got all the time in the world to turn this into our "before" picture :)
It might sound like a broken record but I'm just so pleased with Charlie. Every moment spent with him makes me love him even more. Like I just kinda want to gush non stop lol. So obvi we are very much in the 'honeymoon' phase lol.

I'm very eager to make progress on the trailer loading (more to come on that later) so that we can start getting out and about to see all my favorite trainers and ride with friends again! Soon enough tho, soon enough.

For now tho, it's just more of the same, ad nauseam. Short 15-20min rides mostly trotting with some figures and changes of direction, ideally some ground poles (hopefully raised poles or cavaletti soon!) and a little bit of cantering. What are some of your favorite exercises with green beans?

50 comments:

  1. He looks so sweet! I love his face

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  2. Greenie exercise that is still the best exercise to get Griffin's brain on me? Transitions. Lots of them. Obvi they can get pretty advanced, but what started us out and what is still one of my favorite "warm up" activities for him to get his brain on me is walk-slow trot transitions. On his "up" days, he really has to think to do that slow trot. And I keep him guessing about when we are going to walk again. Back and forth, round and round, add some changes in direction. It sounds easy, but sometimes easy requires a wee bit of thinking and using one's body properly before moving on. I like that it also really helps ME warm up before we move into other things.

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    1. oooh yea i definitely love transitions too!! his brakes aren't terrible but they are a titch dull and i would like to sharpen that up a little bit. right now tho his naughtiest behavior is a (very mild) nap tho, so i'm very focused on installing forward. transition work will come soon enough tho!!

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    2. I really liked this. When I read "slow transitions" I got a bit prickly because on the all-knowing OTTB connect you will see people being like "Oh yah just do like 28342934 trot canter transitions on a circle, that will get him thinking". But then I thought about walk-slow trot and I was like... that is a clever thing. Of course, I need the opposite thing (rev my lazy SOB up!) but there are similarly good walk-trot exercises for that!

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  3. Definitely looks like your dressage saddle fits him better. The jump saddle looks curvy on him? SO GLAD that the PS bridle fits him though, it looks great on his face. He continues to be adorable.

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    1. i can't even begin to express how happy i am that bridle fits him. SOOO HAPPY OMG. in fact there's some extra room in some of the straps too - they're not even all on the very last hole!

      as far as that jump saddle.... ugh omg. i really refuse to go down that crazy town path of never ending saddle fit again lol. hopefully changing the tree and adding strategic shims will correct the fit!

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  4. omg he looks ADORABLE in your dressage bridle. what a precious. i cant believe isabel's bridle fits him, but the girth/saddle doesn't super surprise me bc she was erm... a big lady.

    im drawing a blank on greenie exercises. how does that happen?? but most of my issues were with steering so our rides consisted of not crashing into the walls in the beginning.

    probably my favorite exercise is serpentines. really exaggerating the loops by pushing him way way over with my leg almost making the loops look like ribbon candy, if that makes sense. starts teaching him to move out into the outside aids.

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    1. ha poor isabel. it was just widely sprung ribs, m'kay?!? lol...

      anyway tho, interesting call on the serpentines. Charlie actually already steers really very nicely, in that he moves off my thigh and seat with just supporting rein to give him a channel through which to travel. the only sticking spot in steering is wanting to leak out towards the gate. but also i am guilty of starting a turn but not finishing it - so perhaps the serpentines would help me more than the horse?

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    2. the serpentines are great always. they're my go to warmup, especially if ponies act stupid it gives them something to think about!

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    3. definitely!! it's got me thinking big time. i'm not sure the loops can be very small at this point (i don't want to push him past his comfortable balance points yet, nor do i want to do anything that would be punishing to his muscle sore body) but the advantage seems clear

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  5. My recent green bean exercises were more for Penn when he wanted to go every direction at the same time, haha. I'd just focus on straightness and a good rhythm for now!

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    1. straightness and good rhythm - the holy grail, right? charlie boy already has a couple ticks in his favor re: straightness (he's neither wiggly nor stiff as a board - and is surprisingly soft in each direction), but rhythm definitely needs work!

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  6. I second Jan. Straightness and good rhythm for awhile. Once that is easy lots of bending lines. I don't use a set pattern, I just wander and turn as the horse feels good one direction and check in on the ability to be straight frequently.

    Charlie sounds like he is doing really well. Not to mention he is totally adorable!

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    1. so adorable, omg! and the bending lines is a good one too - he's already showing a certain degree of ease in changing bend (obvi this is all relative to his level of training, it's not like he's on correctly the bit or anything lol) so we play a little bit

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  7. Sounds like your doing it right. The title of my blog comes from the retaining process of the OTTB's, slow and steady. I learned a couple tough lessons along the way about pushing a TB too far or fast. It sounds to me that you have the right approach.

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    1. ha i can definitely see how that can happen - esp with a horse like charlie. he's been so easy and so nonchalant about everything that the temptation is definitely there to just keep going and do more MORE MOAR all the time. i'm trying to resist tho! i keep telling myself we have all the time to make it right.

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  8. Ahhhh I just love this!!! The dressage saddle looks like it fits him SO well, and gotta say he looks good in that navy pad. ;) Sounds like he is coming along just perfectly so far!

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    1. i love that navy pad - omg it's so perfect!!! i've literally never had anything with a horse's name embroidered on it and this is just too cute (but also classy and oh-so-fitting!). i'm pretty happy with how all the dressage tack fits him. the jump tack (saddle + bridle) will get some fiddling soon enough but we're off to a pretty good start with playing dress up!!!! :D

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  9. I wouldn't be surprised if he felt better in your dressage saddle, if I put a saddle that is too wide on Slider he loses all quality in his gaits and evades putting his head down. Loving the PS bridle on him, sooooo handsome! The best green horse advice I can give is to take your time. Don't focus too much on just the W/T/C of the ride. Teach him to stand still while you take pictures of your friends or the scenery. Help him learn that a ride can be boring walking around the indoor or a fun adventure around the property. Racehorses are used to every ride having a very definite goal and purpose and it always the same, it can get stressful for them when we change the game all the time so I try to make that my number one goal. Sounds like you are already well on you way to that...so keep up the good work!

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    1. that's very interesting regarding Slider's reaction to a too-wide saddle. Charlie's inclination is to get very low and heavy and loowwwww up front, to the point of nearly pulling me out of the saddle and really leaning on my hands (you can kinda tell in the trot pic above), but there was practically none of that happening in the ride with the dressage saddle. definitely worth more investigation!

      and re: all the rest of it, yup i'm fully on board. i very much like a horse who thinks of variety as the norm.

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  10. Dude, that girth is SWOON. And PS is goals. He is so stinking cute. I am mildly jealous you got a sane OTTB, but for real, I love him. You guys look amazing together! I 3rd what everyone else has been saying, def slow and steady is your ticket to success!

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    1. there's actually a somewhat sad story behind how that girth came to be ours... i'll probably share it eventually. but for now i'm eager to do it justice and am so thrilled that it fits Charlie so well!

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  11. Oh I love that pic of his head on your shoulder <3 I second what Amy says, take it slow and resist temptation to push for too much too soon. Man he looks just so sincere and willing to please! You found a good one.

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    1. must resist temptation to keep pushing!!! must listen to horse and help him learn at his own speed!!!! i'm in full agreement! but yea omg he is such a sweetie and so willing to just go and do the thing <3

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  12. I really like doing trot serpentines up and down the ring, throwing in random transitions here and there. For example: start the regular serpentine one way down the ring, then on the way back, throw in a halt, or a walk at a random place along the serpentine. Then pick up the trot again and carry on, throwing in another transition somewhere else. It really tunes the horse into your seat and because you're throwing the transitions in random places each time, they're not able to anticipate it.

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    1. yup serpentines are definitely getting added to the list! we've been doing lots of "one loop" serpentines (or, uhhhh, what you might call 'half circles' lolz) and it's been interesting to see that they tend to fall apart more bc i stop riding them (like i just put the horse on a bend and expect him to stay there rather than actually, ya know, completing riding the turn lol). definitely room for improvement!

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  13. That PS bridle looks amazing on him!! And that navy pad... Oh my goodness!!

    As for advice; "do weird things".
    And I don't mean standing on his back or anything, lol. Just be weird - play music while you ride, mount from the opposite side, stand there and text friends while he stands, reach over and pat his bum whilst trotting, etc. Expose him to everything and change it up so he doesn't get too used to a system!

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    1. i'm SO PLEASED that bridle fits him haha!!!

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  14. Awwww so happy for you guys. Love the new horse experience and glad you have a good one. :-)

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    1. mee tooo haha. it's definitely not been without some self doubt or questioning my sanity but so far so good

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  15. I'm so happy for you, Charlie sounds perfect! As for baby things to do, I love hacking out all over the place, just a nice relaxed walk to get them relaxed and loose.

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    1. i love hacking out too!!! our options are somewhat limited at the current barn, but there are some nice fence lines and what not. will probably introduce him to those while out with a buddy tho lol

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  16. He is so stinkin' cute. He just has the sweetest expression. I can see why you love him already. I don't have much to add to all the good advice already given here. Sounds like you are doing all the right things and are giving thoughtful consideration to where he is at mentally and physically and what he is experiencing.

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    1. thanks - that's the hope and plan!! i just want him to be happy and comfortable in his job, and open to new possibilities. his world is going to get a LOT bigger once we add in traveling for lessons so i want to ensure he's as prepared for that as possible!

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  17. So are we going to see a return of the saddle saga?

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  18. I just love reading about this! Keep it up! I think you are a thoughtful considerate rider who does a great job seeking help when you need it, so it's unlikely you'll make a bad decision by Mr Charlie.

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    1. thank you :) i'm gonna try to do my best for him - it's really important to me that he both understand and enjoy the job i'm proposing for him!

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  19. I'm impressed all of your tack fits like that! Also, how cool to be at a barn with a show. He's getting so much exposure without even leaving the property.

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    1. i couldn't be happier with all the exposure he gets at this farm (for instance - they clear the barn aisles with leaf blowers and yes, i have photographic evidence and no, he doesn't care in the least). plus there are quite a few more shows over the next few weekends so we can slowly get him used to the environment while still being able to ease back out again as needed. it's great!

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  20. Do strange stuff all of the time. Prove to them that they can trust your judgement as you do super strange things. Walking over tarps. Putting on jackets. Riding by/with umbrellas. Dragging something. Being walked while on a bike. Or on a golf cart,etc. Then when they encounter something that makes them go WTH, you say "Eh, don't worry" and they go "Oh this crazy human of mine. Okay then...."

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    1. does walking him past people clearing the aisles with leaf blowers count? what about busy noisy athletics fields? lol

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  21. That's wonderful that Isabel's stuff fits him! He sounds like such a peach :) His embroidered saddle pad is adorable too!

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    1. such a peach - and i'm totally in love with the embroidered pad!

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  22. I am in love with these posts. He reminds me so much of the horse I want to get, Merlot! I love love love this :D

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  23. That's awesome that all of your tack fit! He is so stinking cute!

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