Lots of good updates from my neck of the woods! First of all, Pop has been consistently sound for six rides now, and we are slowly getting back into our routine (just in time for me to leave for a week for Fair Hill, naturally). We’ve only been flatting on the grass but he feels really good and is working well. Our goal is still Novice at Rocking Horse (FLORIDA!) the first weekend of November. I’m itching to get back out there!
On the Champ front, we’ve managed to make a good deal of progress. The day after my last post, I spent 33 minutes (yes, 33 minutes) trying to catch him. After the first time he ran from me, I began to push him away from me, making him work if he wanted to avoid being caught. It took a world of patience but finally he walked right up to me and lowered his head into the halter all on his own. I haven’t had an issue catching him since. That day I just brought him in, brushed him, and turned him back out so he’d understand that catching him doesn’t always mean work. The next time I worked with him we just stayed in the roundpen and worked extensively on halting and turning. He was very good and professional. The next day I was lucky enough to have my good friend come out to ride Bonita with me and Champ on the trails. Champ was very nervous at first and really trying to avoid the bit, but after a calming walk around the first loop we picked up a trot and he really settled into it and was light and happy to go forward at a reasonable pace with Bonita behind us. We practiced a little bit having Bonita lead, walking two abreast, and passing each other. We also cantered a little bit and he was very obedient. He’s such a smart horse and really grasps everything so quickly. Hopefully Sara can come ride Bonita at least once a week from now on and we can really get Champ used to going out like it’s no big deal. Update from today, his feet had just been trimmed and Bonita had just gotten shoes on for the first time so both of them were a little ouchy, but we just took them on two loops of the trail at a walk. Champ was very easy to catch, patient to groom/tack/mount, and was quiet and obedient throughout the trail ride. Very proud of him! He'll have the rest of the week off because I'll be in MD, but we'll pick up again next week!
Did have a really interesting lesson on Thursday on Noah, one of S’s babies. He’s a 4 y/o WB gelding, your typical tall gangly but amazingly talented horse. He is very powerful to sit on and I was definitely a little nervous about riding him, not to mention jumping him. It’s funny how my confidence was so shattered on the racetrack, and I’ve just now started feeling more capable and confident over fences on well trained horses, but riding a very green and unfamiliar horse over fences was a little unnerving to me. The good thing is my trainer knows my limitations and I trust he would never put me in a situation I couldn’t handle, so I took a deep breath and tried to just breathe and ride through it. Initially I could feel myself tensing up and getting nervous, especially since Noah was being a little spooky and looky and his big stride was throwing me off guard a bit. After we jumped a few fences, though, I started to relax and enjoy him a little bit. He gives you a really nice feel to the fences, and if you just sit quiet but with a light feel of his mouth and close your calves, he trots right up to a good spot and really jumps it nicely. I felt proud that I’d gone outside my comfort zone a little bit and ended up enjoying myself!
Well, I’ve finally caught whatever bug has been going around and just in time to leave tomorrow! Wish us luck, send Monkee good jingles, and I’ll update you all when I get home! Take care!