Friday, August 2, 2013

Better and Better

It's happening! On Monday, I rode Courage for the first time. Redheadlins and Courage's race trainer were on hand to watch/assist, so obviously, THERE ARE PICTURES!!! :D 

We started out making big loops at the walk while I got comfortable. He was very good--looking around, but staying very relaxed through his body. I have to admit, I got pretty excited as I felt his back swing and his engaged hind end. Yes folks, things I have to bust my butt to get out of Cuna, Courage does naturally.

Good structure ftw.

(This in no way diminishes how I feel about Cuna. I'm simply pointing out how conformation affects function.)

Cute, not forward
After a bit, we moved into the trot. I thought he would be more zoomy and heavy in the bridle, but we cruised around on a mostly loopy rein and I had to kick like a pony clubber just to keep him going.

He starts out nice and forward, but then sort of peters out and needs encouragement. Shouldn't be a hard fix.

Ears up, stripy face!
I didn't want to do anything too challenging, so once he offered to relax his neck a bit, we called it a day. I was only on him for maybe 10 minutes, but I was grinning like an idiot for the rest of the day. I loved his trot--cadenced and bouncy and so much fun. This guy is going to be super cool. Heck, he already is.

Om nom nom

Due to the leg through the fence episode and my work schedule, he got a couple days off after that, which I'm sure didn't hurt him.

That left me all amped up for today. I've been reading/watching videos about riding OTTBs, plus grilling the people I know who have them. My obsessive energy has to go somewhere, right?

I pulled Baby C out and got him ready. He's still rocking the gauze and vet wrap look, so I wrapped polos over it to keep things clean and covered. We also did full cross ties for the first time and he was a total star. No silliness whatsoever. Win!

Once he was tacked up, we did a little more in hand work. I try to keep him on a very loose line and just halt/walk off of verbal and body cues. It lets him look around and acclimate while relaxing. Once his head drops to about poll height, we lunge for a few minutes. I'm mostly just lunging him because I feel like it's a good tool to have ready to use if/when that comes up. He's not terribly balanced on a small circle yet, and I want to keep him engaged and low key while he's working instead of letting him blast around.

Here we go
Once we were done, our favorite redheadlins was out to supervise round two.

Noted: I rode Cuna alone all the time and would hop on him right now without any prep if I thought that was best for him. Given that Courage is a new quantity learning a new job, I think it's prudent to at least have someone around while we get acquainted.

Plus, the advantage of eyes on the ground is that we get lots of pictures. Yay!

I think we were both a little more sure of ourselves this time around. I was more willing to ask him to go forward and he was happier to take me. He's super responsive to my aids, which is AWESOME. Currently, the problem is that this horse is too freaking easy. He's adorable, comfortable, and fun to ride. Geez. I want to take him to a schooling show next month.

Ahem. I do know that I just jinxed myself.

Black polos today
We trotted some big loops. I tried to keep my thumbs up and relax my elbows while keeping my weight in my heels. I also tried to keep him going forward. Mixed success on both.

I felt like he was steering really well (relatively speaking), so it was on to our next big adventure:
On a loopy rein

ZOMGZ TROT POLES!!! I want him going over and through from very early on, so here goes. :) We walked over them Monday, but there is nothing inherently challenging about lifting his toes at a trot, so we trotted them for the first time.

He was a total rockstar and didn't even hesitate.




Then we progressed to doing a super exciting baby grand prix. There were three different trot poles laid out and we made turns and put a sweet little course together.

He bulged out a little bit around some of the sharper corners, but I just used my outside rein and leg, and he straightened right out. And they say racehorses aren't broke. Pssh.

I do want to get a more reliable forward button installed before we hit the crossrail circuit, but I don't think it's long in coming. Courage is just the cutest, smartest little horse who's only been off the track like... 5 days.

All that and a cute face
Oh, and I have to share this picture. This is us, trotting.

Just trotting. Not on the bit, not "doing dressage", not anything, on our second ride off the track. CHECK OUT THAT SEXAY ENGAGEMENT!!!

You see why this horse is cool?

Or not. It's not like I'm sharing. :-P

All thoroughbreds are crazy
After that, we walked around and discussed bitting options (yay using the collection!). Then Courage learned about the sacred rite of jump jump horses: talking to the instructor and getting scratches. He's a fan.

I know there are challenges ahead and that no horse is perfect all the time. I think even Cuna had a bad day once, though I'd be hard pressed to remember exactly what that day was. Regardless, I am absolutely loving this process and I am so glad I took the leap with this guy. He is the coolest little horse (who already fills out my 52" girth).


  1. Wheeeee! He looks like so much fun!

  2. Its good to see you excited over your new horse :)

  3. Impressed that he didn't even try to eat or even take notice of the flowers!! :)

  4. This is great!!! And is bringing back memories of when I first started with Finn... Now see he couldn't steer... Walls and fences were quite helpful lol!:) but he has come so far so fast!!! These horses are amazing so willing to learn and please and figure out there new job wether there 5 days off the track or a year!! I remember when I asked Finn to go over a whole set of trot poles and he looked at me like really? I could just go around and it would be that much easier but if you insist! And now he is looking for them wherever he goes:) yay for OTTB baby horses!!!:)

  5. He's so lovely and I am sooooo excited for you! I think it's incredibly smart to have someone around for awhile. He's JUST off the track and though his mind maybe really solid, his body might start to hurt and his attitude could change while that's going on. They seem to really enjoy the short rides at this stage, lord knows they like having a job! LOVE HIM!

  6. This is all just so exciting!!! He really is super cool and everything! Don't worry I wouldn't share either :P

  7. Courage is super cute and I am super jealous!

  8. I am sure a little naughtiness will creep up as work gets more intense, but what a great start! Great that you scored such a looker and he has a brain!

  9. Yay for Courage!!! Now you know why I took Encore to a schooling dressage show when I owned him for six days, ROFL! We did an Intro test, he didn't really steer that well, but it was so much fun!

    Of course, it all gets harder when the real work begins, but they try so hard and just plain so much fun. The ones who come out and say, please, ma'am what is my job today? are just the best of all. I can't wait to watch him progress!

  10. I love me a good-minded baby racehorse! I also kind of love his two inch long tail...

  11. He is so adorable!!! He looks so willing and talented enough to do whatever you want him to! More photos please!!!!

  12. What a good boy. I'm glad your first 2 rides have been so great!

  13. I like his movement. He could be a nice hunter ;)

  14. Weeee! And video to boot! What a cutie pie, seriously. I had similar issues with Hemie in terms of needing to install a "forward" button. Which I found very ironic considering they are RACE horses. But yeah they are much more trained than I think people generally give them credit for. I know I was pleasantly surprised (still am). =)

  15. Awww. He looks like such a sweetheart! Glad that you're enjoying him

  16. I love baby C! You guys are going to make a great pair.

  17. What a good boy he is!! He looks to have excellent natural balance and a good head on his shoulders. I'm looking forward to all your reports on his progress.

  18. Sounds like he is a good boy an coming along nicely. How cool is that?!?!?!

  19. <3 Very happy for you and a wee bit jealous! Who doesn't love an awesome new horse!?

  20. Wow, what a good head he's got on his shoulders! Cool as a cucumber and totally laidback five days off the track! It also helps that he is cute as a little bay button. So happy for you!

  21. Love your excitement and this new boy! I am sure Cuna is going to be an awesome big brother!

  22. Ahhh yes love those pleasant, willing, intellegent, level headed OTTB's (which I believe most are, contrary to what some may think). And Courage looks like he fits that bill. No doubt it will be a long road but as I always say Slow and Steady wins the race! And it sounds like you are on the perfect track. If you ever want or need any ideas or tips on issues or the things that worked best with The Dude I would be happy to help just shoot me an email. I think there is a huge difference from OTTB's that come straight from the track and those who have come from an adoption place. Not better or worse it is just different and I got to learn that from trial and error. I would do some things different for sure and others I will swear made all the difference in the world. He is a lovely beast and will so love watching the process. I already long to "save" another OTTB and this just makes it that much worse.

  23. Can I just say how dang LUCKY and BLESSED you are to have such an awesome, quiet, and mellow OTTB who can STEER!! Hahaha! Cash could most definitely NOT steer when I first got him, and for that matter, when I first got him it was a good 2 months before I got on him--he needed that much leg-work.

    I sure am looking forward to reading about his adventures!

  24. I know I'm late to the party here, but the new guy looks so cute! It's awesome that you're excited about riding again :-)

  25. Go on the Evention Youtube page and there are some video's about OTTB retraining, actually they work with every horse also. He looks ADORABLE!!!!


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