Bravo has been knocking it out of the park lately in so many ways. A few weeks ago we hit a snag due to some less than ideal pasture conditions, an excess of energy, and too much lunge line exuberance. Multiple fixes helped smooth out these issues and even though nothing could be done about the pasture conditions, we have been reaping the benefits and really making progress since making some changes.
I returned to our roots with a groundwork refresher, per Tracy’s suggestion, and closed down the barn a few nights so I could allow Bravo some free time loose in the arena. He responded well to the groundwork but surprised me by not getting wild at all when I turned him loose in the arena. There were much less theatrics than he had been delivering on the lunge line.
Heeding Austen’s advice, I have completely omitted lunging and took a chance that he would keep a better lid on the crazy while being ridden. It worked!! He has been perfectly well behaved ever since. We can revisit lunging when the round pen finally drains (probably sometime in June…at the this rate). Can’t say that I miss it from our pre-ride routine but I do want him to know how to do it and behave. We did make it out to the round pen one day when there wasn’t standing water and I got to take another update shot. I love looking at these and seeing how he is changing.
He saw the chiropractor and I think that may have helped make him more comfortable while working. It feels so amazing to have the “problems” that we have now under saddle. He has always been great for the walk but had been pretty resistant to trotting and we hadn’t cantered since I bought him. Now, our “go” button is working much better and he only takes exception to being asked to trot the first time in the ride. His resistance is nothing major- a head toss or running out through his shoulder. As his strength improves and he adapts to consistent riding, I’m confident this will fade, too. The newest issues are leaning and running through his shoulder while trotting and not yet understanding a cue to move laterally. We are cantering a little but he is lacking strength and coordination. He has been stumbling behind occasionally especially in the down transition so we will take this slow.
The best part about all this progress is I think we are officially ready to start taking lessons together! He has been ridden by my friend in three lessons so far, but he and I have yet to take our first lesson.
For documentation purposes, here’s a list of what’s going well and what needs work:
- He’s so chill- he doesn’t spook at the crazy arena pigeons
- Doesn’t mind the radio playing in the arena
- He reacts but doesn’t overreact to the whip
- Forward and responsive to the leg (most of the time)
- He did really well with three other horses in the arena, multiple times
- No bolting, bucking, or ear pinning
- Swinging, forward walk is default
What Needs Work
- Standing still at the mounting block (he doesn’t walk away, he moves his hip away)
- Focus- very short attention span
- Whoa (a bit swap helped, but I want him to react to my seat/tone)
- Accepting contact
- Beginning lateral work- moving away from one leg
- Shoulder control- bulging and leaning everywhere
- Balance especially in transitions
My diligence and patience with him is finally paying off right now. We feel ready to consider the next level, which, in our case, is actually tackling some of the things listed above! What fabulous “problems” to have, all things considered… YOU GUYS! We have RIDING problems to fix. 😀