Monday, March 19, 2018

Ready for action

The Oatsmobile is highly sick of this winter and the boringness of trotting around the indoor and getting stronger and more balanced.

He has dreams of jumping and running and most of all - being in charge!  The danger of the smart horse is that they get bored easily and you have to stay ahead of them.  I haven't been great about that all winter and he has been as patient as he can.  We do incorporate lots of poles and small jumps and try to keep it interesting, but I am not about to crank the fences up on a horse trying to yank the reins out of my hands.

Luckily, he is well trained and good natured so having a few weeks of lovely weather really helped.  We were able to ride outside and get out on the trails and I could feel Odin relax and breathe again.  It doesn't hurt my brain much either. 

At the end of the day though, he needs harder work.  His canter is really coming together, he is maturing mentally, he wants to jump higher.  Bad news for him is that my riding time has been really limited by work lately and I am not fit enough to stay with him when he gets, uh, exuberant (this horse can crack his back like nothing else.  It's awesome, but tough when you aren't fit).  Good news for him, R2 has next week off and hopefully can spend a good amount of time getting him settled over bigger jumps so I can take over from there. 
He looks damn good

Work has been really intense with a big event that is actually going on now for the next two weeks.  After that I have a house move and then hopefully lots and lots of springtime riding. 

Odster is about to turn 7 and all signs point to him getting into a really good place in his training and I hope to spend the next several months enjoying and exploring that!

Saturday, January 20, 2018


When I was test riding the Oatsmobile to buy him, his trainer mentioned that he was a bit of a tough horse because while he isn't hot and isn't reactive, he is sensitive.  Except when he isn't.  He obviously was such a good horse and had such a great brain, I didn't process that description fully at the time, but have spent much of the last two years getting a deeper understanding of this.
Old pic to remind everyone he is cute

 While we have never pushed the issue in his training, it is very clear that you do NOT want to pick a fight with this horse.  He is a Dynaformer baby and his momma was a very tough racehorse so to start with, everything in his DNA says that if you get him into fight mode, he will go to the mat with you. 

And I have seen glimpses of that in his personality.  When I was first learning he might have some ulcer/stomach acid issues he was near unrideable.  I could practically feel him saying "I am being as polite as I can right now, but if you don't get off me and fix this, very bad things will happen."  So, my trainers and I put a lot of time and effort into convincing him that all the things we want him to do are his idea.  I get that this applies generally to horses, but seems to apply moreso to Odin. 
no sympathy

However - and this has been the hardest part for me to learn - that doesn't mean you can baby him.  If I ask nicely and he ignores me, and I let him get away with that, he has learned something and that is not a good thing.  So I have had to learn to correct VERY strongly but then to soften literally the second he gives.  It is a bit of a tightrope to walk and it has been an effort to get me there.  I assumed sensitive meant not to correct strongly but it really means (for Odin) to be incredibly firm and to give as much and as quickly as possible afterwards. 
Jasper pondering how tough all this riding stuff is

When he tries to lean on the bit, it is a hard pop and then soften like nothing happened.

When he decides it is time to shoulder in down the long side when I am asking him to go straight, it is a hard boot and then again, soften like nothing happened. 

As trainer R put it, sometimes he needs a bit of cowboy but you need to know when to stop because if you make it a total fight, you will lose. 

He also has a bit of a high opinion of his ability to be the one driving. 
Me pondering how tough all this riding stuff is!

I think he has been great for my education as a horsewoman because he is never scary and he isn't exactly hard - he will go out and be largely obedient.  But to get the best out of him, you need to up your game.

And for me that has been learning a new balance for the dichotomous horse.