Monday, February 15, 2016

Taking what the horse can give you

It has been an interesting week with Odin.  A little bit of a challenging week, but definitely an educational one.

His workload was pretty light as I was caught up at work and trainer R missed a few days being sick.  I am totally cool with this in general and especially at his age, since he won't even truly be 5 until May.

However, it is a huge challenge at a facility with limited turnout.  Odin lives in a shed with a small run and only gets turned out in the field on Thursdays.  And with the wet/freeze/thaw weather we have been having, even that isn't a given.  It is an unfortunate reality of having my horse close to home in a region with ever increasing land value.  I could get him somewhere with real turnout but would have to drive 1-2 hours (depending on traffic) to get to him.

Pretty much his whole space

As a side note, if it ever turns out that he has to have that kind of turn out to be happy, I will deal with the drive, but the close to home barn is worth a shot and many horses, even a couple other young TBs, do fine.

Point being, horse has been fresh.  On Monday, I longed him and then rode him and he was pretty good.  Just basic work, no issues.  Then he sat Tues-Thurs.  He got longed a little on Friday by R, but it wasn't a heavy session as she wasn't 100%.  So I didn't expect much on Friday when I got there to ride.

Usually when he is fresh we walk and walk.  Pick a buddy and do laps.  Don't build adrenaline, but keep moving.  On Friday, that wasn't even an option.  He just couldn't even horse.

Why do I love this horse so very much?  Because he is an open book and tries to be very clear about his needs while still allowing his rider to feel safe.

We are not the best at conformation shots
Instead of exploding, spooking, or bolting, he just didn't steer.  I mean at all.  I asked him to turn right and he cocked his head left and braced his neck.  There was nothing happening.  A horse trotted by and he pranced while staying braced.  I took the hint and got off.

When the ring cleared  I stripped his tack and ran him around the indoor.  No matter how up Odie is, he requires motivation to get moving.  But once I got him going it was half racehorse half bronc horse.  He played for quite awhile.   Gave him his final estrogen shot and went home.

Saturday morning, to be safe, we longed him before I took a lesson with R2.  Another horse was bucking and running on the longe but Odin wasn't even reacting.  I got on and had the best ride on him to date.  We practiced perfecting my outside rein "half halts"  (they aren't quite half halts but basically the same principal to encourage him to stop laying on his riders hands) and he started to get really light.

And we jumped tiny cross rails!  My first jumps since surgery.  He was literally perfect.  Straight, honest, and gave only slightly more effort than they deserved.  I.e. he hopped over them instead of just stepping over them.  Then he cantered away nicely.

And by straight I mean, wow, you apply outside rein and support with outside leg and he just goes dead straight.  Seems advanced for his age and experience but it is super nice.  I hope that feature stays installed.

It was great to ride with R2 because she has done so much of Odin's under saddle work and was able to help me apply aids the way she does and therefore in the way he understands.  I left that ride feeling leaps forward in riding communication with him.

For his training ride Sunday we did no prep - he had two solid days of exercise behind him after all.  And yet, he wasn't there mentally for R2.  The wind was blowing hard (like 50 mph, we sure know wind in CO) and the ventilation fans were making horrible noises.  Maybe that was the cause, maybe not, but again the steering left the building and again the rider got off.
We are pretty good at couch mode

However, young horse, not steering cannot become an escape from work.  So on the longe he went.  And he had to really work while he was there.  Lots of transitions, going over poles, then a cross rail, then more transitions, etc.

Hopefully he starts to learn that life is actually easier and more fun if he behaves under saddle even when fresh.  And I am sure he will.  He has a good work ethic by and large.  A small group was around to watch him jump on the longe and general opinion is that he is going to be one amazing jumper - he already is a back cracker.

This week should be more normal and we will see if that equates to more consistency under saddle, but we will see what Odin offers.


  1. I recently found your blog (love it) and I am hoping to move to the Denver area in the next year or two. If you have time I would really appreciate it if you could email me ( {at} gmail) and chat about the horse scene around Denver.

  2. I think that this time of year is always the worst with young horses. I'm glad that you had the good ride on him. Hopefully, getting back to the normal consistency helps him this week.