Thursday, August 15, 2013

Such a Clever Boy

I seem to have hit the jackpot--not only is my little guy adorable and sweet, with the best post-race brain I have ever seen, he's also happy to mosey around under saddle and chat with friends all day.

Oh, and he's wicked smart.

Just call him "Giraffe Man"
The only drawback is that I really don't care to mosey that much. I mean, chatting with friends is fun, but when we're working, I like a ZOOM ZOOM engine. When redheadlins rode him last week, she was able to demonstrate his very-functional go button. She also pointed out that he went in a shadow roll and rings (martingale) for a reason on the track.

Look who can flex his poll after all
Ok. Time for phase two. C-rage took the weekend off while I attended to "real life", and we started fresh on Monday.

On the lunge. In side reins.

I really don't believe in lunging as a form of exercise--I see only negatives to running horses around in tiny circles for extended periods of time. That said, I do think all horses should be able to lunge in case the need comes up, and I think this counted as a legitimate need.

We took it easy. First I let him warm up W/T both directions. Then I added the outside rein W/T both directions. When he settled and was able to trot through his sticky corner, I added in both reins both directions.

Best shot I could get while trying to keep him going
I kept the side reins loose. I never asked him to canter because he's still finding his balance on smaller circles and there's no reason to stress him out about the whole thing. We were done in about 20 minutes.

I do think that asking him to move in a different way and learn new concepts is challenging (and I am apparently busy this month), so he got the next day off to recover and process.

Which brings us to Wednesday.

Demonstrating his lovely walk
Given that his last two sessions were rather mind bending, I was curious to see how he'd do. We walked around for a good 10-15 minutes, seeing the sights and chatting. He's really good about dropping his poll and moving forward at the walk.

Then it was time to find out just how much progress we'd made. I asked for the trot. . .

Blurry and adorable
And off we went! Big forward stride, covering ground. After a few strides, he started to relax and drop his poll.

It's obviously a newer concept for him, but he was experimenting with letting his neck stretch forward and even a little downward. He definitely improved as we rode, and offered his softest, easiest canter to date.

An excellent shot until the jump got in the way
This is what impresses me about him. The side reins were a very low-drama introduction. He's literally spent less than 20 minutes in them in his entire life, and it definitely changed his way of going under saddle. He's able to learn new skills and connect the dots with an incredibly minimal education.

White wraps, black bells.
I don't drill him. He's literally going about 4 days a week, maybe 20 minutes a day. I can leave him in the cross ties, try things on, adjust them, put them back on, pull his mane, screw with him, and he's rock solid. His under saddle work progresses in leaps and bounds even with very minimal riding. He's taking to the sport horse world like a fish to water.

And I love it.


  1. Wonderful news! Training a baby off the track can be so fulfilling. I'm glad you got a level-headed one. Fiction is the exact same way - they're such a joy to work with!

  2. I love watching OTTBs figure out that it feels gooooood to stretch out and start to use themselves in a more balanced and engaged way. I also rode a giraffe for a while, and it's so rewarding to watch them figure things out! :)


  3. So glad you got a level-headed baby :)

  4. Yay! He's so stinking cute! I want video...;)

  5. The TB's (4) I've had have always been "smarter than the average bear." My trainers always advised me not to drill too much. For one, their brains don't need a lot of repetition, and for two, their bodies don't either. They usually muscle up pretty quickly.

    Keep your boy occupied with interesting things to do and he's going to be a wonderful sport horse for you!

  6. Love all this! Makes me so happy. Lunging is totally a tool, just like lots of other things. A great way for them to let loose, but like you used it, also a wonderful way to teach new concepts like GIVE and FLEX without the pressure of a rider. Pong was doing this crazy yank/pull naughty pony crud with me recently. ONE lunge line sesh in side reins where he pulled on his own dumb self and it was GONE undersaddle. LOL! I <3 lunging and ground work!

  7. He seems like just such an awesome boy! I sat in the tack room the other day looking at my lunging equipment and then looked out at George and thought...nah, maybe tomorrow. I foresee George having a meltdown. We haven't had one yet...but I have a feeling one will come, when I least expect it...

  8. Sounds like you hit the jackpot with your new boy :)

  9. Yah for Courage! That's awesome. I think a light work schedule is probably perfect for him right now as his old world changes. How's Cuna!?

  10. I love it for you too! So exciting!

  11. Sounds like Courage is a smart little boy! :)

  12. Awwwe, yay, Courage! It is so helpful to just SHOW them what their bodies can do sometimes. I agree with Jean, they really don't seem to need a lot of repetition for the most part. Once they got it, they got it and then they just annoyed if you keep asking, LOL. Ask me how I know!

  13. Love how everything fell into place so well and things are going so smoothly!

  14. Congrats, he's such a great catch.

  15. i love new horses! espcially when you have such amazing luck with an OTTB!
    Cant wait to hear more about you guys

  16. He sounds so much like Lex! Except the mane pulling part! I'm glad you're enjoying him so much. :)

  17. Smart, willing horses are the best! So much fun to train.

    Hey, there is good longeing and there is bad longeing. Running in circles is bad longeing and definitely not the only form. Good longeing teaches balance, engagement, forward, whatever you can think of, and side reins are not even required to accomplish these things.

  18. He seems to really enjoy his new career :-)


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