Wednesday, August 28, 2013

One Month of Awesome

Given his extended vacation that was primarily spent on a small drylot, I thought Mr. Courage might benefit from a day of lunging before I got back in the saddle.

And then I thought "I don't pay for two horses so I can lunge on my freaking birthday". With that solid rationale in mind, I tacked up and headed for the arena. I did decide that the best way to continue to advance the education of my lil' OTTB was to start out by lunging in side reins for a few minutes so we could practice learning about contact before I tried to do anything. It went like this:

Pretend the bit is FIRE
Me: "Courage, move forward into the contact and stretch through your back.

Him: "What's brown and eats out of trees?"

Me: "Keep going. A giraffe?"


Me: "It's really not that funny. Go forward."

Him: Lookit! It's my giraffe impression. What kind of noise does a giraffe make?"

Me: "Go. Forward."

Him: "Knock knock."

Me: "Who's there?"


He sort of relaxed eventually, so I decided to give up on the lunging and move along. Clearly, it's a work in progress. He understands the whole "go around me in a circle" part of the concept, so I guess that's good.

I didn't have high hopes for our ride. He walked forward pretty well, so I tried to do a little work on giving to the contact and moving off my leg. Then I moved him up into the trot.

The Courage Giraffe was gone. He was forward (for him) and stretching his neck forward and down. Not a fancy dressage stretch by any means, but pretty freaking amazing for him. He didn't learn it from the side reins and he certainly didn't learn it from me, so I can only assume that he's training himself in his spare time.

Ears on the grass
Despite his time off, he was super relaxed, picked up both leads correctly, and seemed quite comfortable in his new shoes. That made the next decision obvious. I opened the arena gate from his back and rode out through the fields. I'd ridden in the near pastures before and he was good. This time I took him into the bigger, farther away pastures. He just marched along on a loose rein.

The best birthday ride
Our BO even came out and took pictures for me, hooray!

Yet again, I was completely thrilled with how Courage handled the new situations and challenges that I threw at him. He's one month removed from the track and he's quiet enough to hack on a loose rein. I keep saying he's going to be awesome, but the truth is that he already is.


  1. Gotta love it when they train themselves in their spare time! Awesome!

  2. *tear* in my eye, he is so cool...also lmao at the conversation!

  3. Wow, was there a TB memo that went around? Encore insisted on doing speed-llama trot poles last night, grr.

    Love the Courage though, I am so happy he's being so great for you!!

  4. Level-headed TBs - gotta love'em. I find that Charlie is actually better when I give him a few days to digest what he's learned. I look like a genius because he's magically better with little to no work on my part. Work smarter, not harder, right? ;)

  5. I laughed so hard reading this because I've been through it with Dancer and it's SO FRUSTRATING.

  6. Baby steps for Babies. They get it eventually.

  7. Great way to spend a birthday!

  8. Sounds like a very happy birthday!! :)

  9. what a nice considerate horse to train himself for you!! :D

  10. Yay!!! Nice bday present from the 'Rage =)

  11. Happy Birthday! Glad you had a nice birthday ride!

  12. What an awesome, smart, horse! Happy Birthday!

  13. You can teach him to "give to the bit" on the ground. That might help. It's a John Lyons/Kenny Harlow thing.

    Stand next to him. Pick up only one rein and hold some pressure towards his wither. As soon as he drops his head even a tiny fraction, immediately release the pressure--totally drop the rein. Repeat, repeat, repeat. The whole process can take a lot of time, but gradually, he will respond to your picking up the rein by dropping his head--giving to the bit. Then you can do the same thing from the saddle.

    The main problem with the side reins is that they never really "give" when the horse starts to lower his head so he's not getting instant feedback for trying.

    By the way, if you do try the ground exercises, you must have INFINITE patience. You cannot drop the rein until he lowers his head . And you MUST reward even the slightest lowering on his part at first.

    Eventually, even a light wiggle with your fingers will soften his jaw and topline.

  14. Happy Birthday! You've certainly found Cuna the best possible brother.


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