I’ve ridden for the last four days in a row, and let me tell you, it’s been good. I’ve already blogged about the first two rides I believe. I tacked him up the day before yesterday, decided to get another 35-40 minute ride in working on keeping him on the rail instead of cutting through the middle (which is still a bit difficult right now because I have to turn a bit early because of a muddy spot..) and keeping him at the same pace until I ask for him to either slow to the walk again or speed up more. He has a bad habit of wanting to stop trotting at the gate and either stop completely or start walking. I haven’t worked on him enough on this, so I expected the problem. I’ve also been practicing on posting the trot, and getting him to lower his head and round up. Those of you that follow my Instagram will have seen the media already (and you probably saw me freaking out over my horse, because he’s really stepped it up) but I’ll post it all here as well. We warmed up at the walk, I plugged my phone into my speaker and put on some music (I may or may not have a Glen Miller obsession…1940’s music is fun to trot to.) and got started. After a few laps at the walk, I asked for a slow jog and worked on keeping him at the pace for a few laps without him stopping at the gate or trying to turn too quickly, took me awhile to get a couple good solid laps, once I did, I went ahead and started asking for some actual collection on his part and worked on that headset and getting him to round his body more. Lifted up on his rein to move his shoulder, and waited for him to cooperate. At first, he would slow down, give a comfortable little jog, but the head wouldn’t budge. I gave him a few breaks, praised him when I’d see any kind of improvement, and was careful to release as quickly as possible when I saw him thinking about it.
Finally, he lowered his head. He did it for maybe 3 seconds, but it was 3 really good seconds I guess? For those few seconds, he was in a really good place, and I released, praised, let him jog around again before asking again. Little by little, he started lowering it and keeping it down for longer.
I continued using leg and a bit of outside rein for balance, giving him a small amount of pressure and then release, and by the end of the ride he went the length of one side of the round pen a few times with his head lowered properly. I called it quits after a few more minutes, let him stretch out and jog around, then cooled him off. It’s important to end on a good note with him, lol.
I tacked him up before dinner yesterday, popped him in the round pen and got to work. I set my phone up on a panel for videos so got some good footage and screenshots out of it. I still need to work on my release and doing it quicker, but yesterday was definitely better than the day before when it came to that. He was incredible yesterday. Warmed him up at a walk like usual and I wanted to work a bit on trotting the round pen circle again without him stopping or turning, I added a bit of pressure and outside rein and asked him to collect, but didn’t ask for anything fancy, just a nice trot, and he immediately let his head down and went like that for probably 90% of the ride almost completely on his own. I’d have to nudge him here and there when he saw something or decided he wanted to go to the gate, but seriously…a world of differences there. His trot was extremely enjoyable.
He needs some more bulking up, which is weird to see in the photos because he’s seriously hard as a rock right now, but he does need some toning in the neck and hindquarters..but he bulks up really easy with work so totally not concerned with that, lol. My reins seem pretty tight in these but I swear my hack is barely engaged, rofl. Kept having my mom remind me to release if she saw I had too tight of reins so it was a good reminder to release quicker so he’d get the immediate praise for behaving.
Also the first time in forever that I’ve asked for any kind of extension in that trot. We’ve been focusing a lot on the jog and slowing him down on that, since it could be a tad slower, and I’ve been neglecting his big attempt at a fancy trot. 😉 I do love his trot nowadays, it’s cool to feel the difference in him and Stormie and the horse I ride for lessons. He puts a lot of strength into it and he’s actually trying to use his body as opposed to just plonking along.
We are slowly on our way to being rounded, his back still looks a little hollow to me, but practice makes perfect.
Here’s a fun before and after…first photo was taken in the beginning of Fall (can I have tank top weather again plz?) and I thought he looked pretty dang good.
But now I see our faults in that…he’s completely hollow, not using himself at all, head kept trying to creep up higher and higher.
We’re obviously not to perfect roundness yet, but I think we’re getting closer.
He gets today off, and I probably have a lesson (in upper 20, lower 30 degree weather…bleh) unless it gets cancelled because of the weather, then I’m having a girl come out tomorrow to come get some photos of us as long as she can get here before dark, hoping for some really pretty photos to show off! I’ll be riding then. Definitely riding on Saturday.