I actually have a lot of diy/house/craft blogs coming up because I’ve been busy in that front, but since my lovely husband was nice enough to come out to the barn on Sunday and take some pictures of me and Gatsby – you have to sit through another horse post before we get back to crafty things. Non-horsey people can just look at all the pretty pictures and ignore the boring technical riding stuff. Ready?
Okay, in reality he’s a little scruffy and thin right now. But hey, it’s March and we’re in the middle of shedding out. Plus, he’s actually gained some weight and I have him on SmartGain 4 (a horse supplement that will make your pony fat and as a plus it smells like ice cream), so I expect to see him pack on some more pounds before the first show.
The Good News
We’re getting a lot better. I no longer feel in danger of getting bucked off at the canter every time I ride at night (Hallelujiah!). I also am working on getting him more in a naturally low headset. When I say natural, I mean with self carriage. I never use any gadgets (draw reins, tight martingales, etc) to put his head down, but I do get in the habit of wig wagging my hands back and forth a bit too much when I want him to go in a frame. He rides leg to hand well, but I need to knock that habit out before he feels like he’s never going straight. Plus it will be better to have a natural “happy hunter” look rather than an Eq frame for those under saddle classes.
He’s also slowing waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down. Most days I can ride him in a simple Myler D snaffle, and even when he was “bad” this weekend during my lesson (rushing the fences) I only had to move up to a slow twist full cheek. It makes me feel really good that he’s learning to chill out and relax with me.
He’s also showing his saintly school horse colors. I had some interesting (see “The Bad News” next) jumps in my lesson on Saturday, and one time toward the end I actually landed on his neck. Literally. On his neck. As in ass out of the saddle hands by the ears kind of thing. My first thought was “Well here is the first time I’m going to fall off of Gatsby!” I mean, this is a horse known throughout the barn for bucking . If I was a horse, I would have bucked somebody off if they landed on my neck. Instead he just cantered forward and I was able to get right back in the saddle. What a good boy!
The Bad News
I still have a lot to work on.
From his years of being a school horse, Gatsby likes to chip a lot. I don’ t have an awful eye, but when I try to keep him from rushing the fences I tend to over correct too much at the last minute which causes him to chip. Also, I don’t trust him 100%. It’s not like he’s a stopper, but I’m still just getting used to him.
Whether we manage to chip or not, I’ve gotten into this great habit of over releasing. Way. Over. Releasing. Like, my hands are touching the horses ears at times over releasing, and these are over 2’0″ fences… it’s just silly. I’ve got to snap out of it fast.
His ears are also back in almost every jumping picture. I don’t know if he was just having a bad day on Sunday (he threw a shoe in the middle of our ride but I didn’t realize it, and he never was un-sound), or he was really pissed at me for making him do the adds in an attempt to control the speed racer side. I’ll have to keep an eye on it. I don’t want anything to be hurting him.
Overall, I’m really happy with how far we’ve come. I think my 2’6″ goals for the April show may be a bit lofty, but I decided to chill out with that. Our show season is from April – November, and I think there are at least 6 shows I am planning on attending in that period. If it takes me until November to get to the 2’6″, that’s OK. It’s taken me 27 years, what’s a few more months? 🙂