Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I Needed The Big Picture

It's painfully apparent that I'm the pushover and Betsy is the one who pushes the envelope with each lesson.

Just in my last post I was singing the praises of Hola marching around like a good little worker bee. I even mentioned he didn't have any protests. Then Betsy comes in and pushes his abilities just a little more. In this case, it was apparent that I do not have the draw reins at the same length as Betsy. Hola felt the bit right away when Betsy started to work him and he had to protest:

the protest

He broke the draw reins twice (once on each side) with his head twitching. He was really feeling his oats...

working trot

In that shot he was marching along on a mission! And eventually he settled down and relaxed. At that point of compliance it was time to end the lesson! Good boy!

I get excited watching him work and thinking things through. He has lovely movement and a gorgeous neck.

pretty neck

And even when he's feeling good, he has yet to ever kick up his heels or rear! Even Toby loves a good buck or two when he's feeling good at the end of a longe line.

At the beginning of the lesson I spoke with Betsy about "the big picture" regarding his training. I need help getting the "big picture" otherwise I become too anxious to move on when in fact we are not really ready. Therefore, throughout the lesson, Betsy explained to me what she was asking for and looking for from him - essentially compliance with the bit. Our plan is to treat him as if he was a green 3 yr old and train him like he's learning everything for the first time. She said she'd rather have him learn to accept the bit on the longe line because there is less chance of anyone getting hurt if he should throw a tantrum and he can learn a whole lot on the ground while simultaneously getting to know and trust us. Sounds like a good plan to me. We are not in a rush and the results have been very positive so far. He's a nervous guy when he's unsure of what's about to happen next or if he's anxious about something. Typically he begins to weave from side to side when he's anxious. It's his only vice and he does it during anxious moments such as waiting his turn to come in from the paddock for feeding time. Going slowly and spelling everything out for him with his training helps him and his anxiety. He relaxes much more quickly. As I'm working him between lessons, he's becoming more fit and the lessons with Betsy seem to be more of a mental exercise than a physical one.

After longeing him, Betsy worked him for a little while at the mounting block. Being that he was a racehorse, he was mounted most times while he was moving. Now he needs to learn to stand still while being mounted. We stood him next to one and while I held him, Betsy got up on the block, bounced up and down on it, shook his saddle around on his back and eventually she layed down across the saddle. He simply stood there and only wondered what Betsy was up to when she was hopping around on the block. We ended his lesson with that.

And at the end of it all, he always wants hug - his cutest habit for sure!

the after work hug


  1. Sounds like you've got an excellent trainer there!

  2. It's good to have someone like that to work with. She seems to understand both you and your horse and want to help you guys out. It's nice to see the patience you have in doing groundwork over and over--it will pay off abundantly later.

    And as always, Hola is gorgeous. If he wasn't grey, I'd be trying to find a way to steal him. (Nothing against greys; I just hate keeping them clean.)

  3. I've always said OTTBs are like newbies once they are off the track. "Born again." It's great that you have Betsy to keep you both on "the right track." Pun intended. Ollie looks like a natural for dressage. You're both very lucky to have each other AND Betsy too.

  4. He is stunning, like a swan horse, lol! Keep up the good work..I would die for my OTTB to stretch his neck like that! :)

  5. lovely pictures, lovely turnout. The exception is the binder twine draw-reins . . . may I ask if there is a reason for that?

  6. Anonymous - the binder twine is used because it will break easily should he panic.