Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Progress Takes Work

Ollie, Toby and Davey enjoying time in their summer paddock.
Ollie and I are still progressing nicely albeit slowly.  

James came back to town but I wasn't in town to participate in the clinic.  Matt and I had gone to Baltimore for the Preakness Stakes.  So Ollie and I are continuing on with our work with the goal of strengthening his back, getting him to relax his jaw and accept the bit, and overall getting him to relax under saddle.  We'll get with James on his next visit.

Our routine has been fun for me.  I'm still using the long lines with him and he's really looking good.  We have to work harder for a nice bend when we go to the right but every horse has a bad direction.  To break things up and to get him to trust me, we make small ventures out around the property.  So far he's been good but we've not been out of sight of the barn with out Toby being with us.  On those days, I take them both out for a hack.  I ride Toby and pony Ollie.  We ride the perimeter of their big field where they spend the winter.  I have a pedometer with a GPS on my cell phone and it tells me that a perimeter loop is 1.2 miles.  It's nice rolling hillsides so it's good for working out both horses.  We do it all at a walk/trot.  Toby is horribly out of shape and I'm really trying to get Ollie to do things quietly so this is all good.  Plus walking up and down the hills will lengthen and strengthen those back muscles.

I'm really enjoying having a focus with my horses and setting goals.  Plus it's all happening at the right pace for Ollie to "get it".  I'm feeling good about our progress!  Even Ollie is feeling good about it!

In the meantime, Matt and I have been crazy busy.  We had the Preakness Stakes for starters:

Followed immediately (like the day after the Preakness) by the High Hope Steeplechase at the Kentucky Horse Park. Yep! We drove back in time for the 1st race at 1:30pm!

And now we are playing catch up! This week I get to go visit my foal friends at Adena Springs. I love doing this work! Meet my little filly friend SomethinAboutLaura - Bernardini '12. We will be following her up until she turns 1 yr old. We started when she was just a couple days old. In this video she's about 7 weeks old.

Finally, do you guys think we'll have a Triple Crown winner this year?!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Our 2nd Clinic! How We Performed!

I finally feel as if I'm on the right track with Ollie!  We are progressing beautifully right now!

I think it has started by having him at a nice quiet barn with lots of pasture time in a really good pasture.  Both Toby and Ollie have super silky coats, lots of shine and all the signs of excellent health.  Then I think working with James Houston on a monthly basis works well for me.  James is patient, kind and very helpful at getting both Ollie and me prepared and ready to move forward in training.  I can't begin to explain how helpful long reining has been for both of us..

James came in the week of Rolex 3-day.  This is a tough weekend for me because we end up going to Churchill Downs (a 1 hour and 15 min drive) for the morning workouts from the Derby contenders, then spend the afternoon at the Kentucky Horse Park for Rolex.  Crazy busy.  Thankfully, the clinic organizer worked with me to fit me in.  James came to us!  Now this is an absolute exception but it's because I'm pretty committed to working with him on a consistent basis.

James was impressed at how Ollie was comfortable and accepting of working on the long lines.  He noticed improved muscling in Ollie's neck and was upbeat about our progress.  Woohoo!  Ollie was great on the long lines.  Then I got on.  Ollie became anxious and we spent our time getting him to relax and understand that we're not asking much of him.  We would trot for a bit then walk, then trot, then walk.  Repeat and rinse.  Ollie got better but the weather was unseasonably cold and he was frisky.  So for the next few weeks, it's our project to get Ollie to trust me more and I ask him for simple things that he can become confident with doing while I'm on his back. 

Here are some photos and a short video from our work:

If anyone is interested in seeing what I've been doing since this clinic including IMMEDIATELY after the clinic - just check out our photos!


 Our Capture The Light Equine Photography Workshop

Little Mike leads the field through the first turn in a wire to wire win in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.

And the Derby and Oaks Weekend