Friday, November 29, 2013

And Another Lesson!

Courage and Diva
I found out early Wednesday morning that Courage and I could wiggle in to a baby lesson with our fancy eventing trainer that afternoon. It was a group lesson with three other greenie babies, so I figured it was the perfect opportunity for us.

Courage unloaded like a champ, let me tack up, and then spent the next ten minutes or so posing dramatically in various places around the giant arena. He didn't spook at all, but he's the sort of horse that really likes to see everything.

Once I got on, we were put to wok doing some leg yield out on 20 m circles at the walk and trot. The goal was to get the hyped up greenies a bit disengaged (and less zoomy) while getting them focused on us. Because the arena is massive, we all got our own circle to work on.

"Check out my flailing move, Diva."
Then she had us roll right up into canter. I tried to think positive and stay focused and whatever, but it took about half a circle before we were flailing and leaping our way across the diagonal of the giant arena with a certain little blaze face pretty much in my lap. I'm starting to get used to it, so I kept my heels down and leg on and sort of got him combobulated before we ran in to anyone. Just glad none of the other babies decided to go with us, lol.

We got put back on our circle. I did some changes of direction to change his focus a little, and our instructor kept having me pat him with the outside (right) rein. We were able to put in two decent half circles at the canter without leaping, so we called that good enough.

Then we moved on to trotting a pattern of poles. There were a lot of poles in a row, which is something Courage is not the best at. He gets a little overwhelmed when he sees that many things to do. Definitely something to work on. He was pretty funny as he tried SO HARD to figure out what I wanted. We would trot through the first few, then sort of canter and then just LEAP out. Our instructor had me trot in, then halt, then walk or trot out a few times and he started to do better.

He's got this
Well, until we had to canter. We trotted the first set of poles, then were supposed to canter the second set. Courage's flailing isn't so much scary as annoying and bizarre and hilarious, so we picked up the canter, leaped our way through the poles, and took off flailing across the arena.

Our instructor had me keep him forward, but put him on a circle and put him to work. We went through the exercise several times, and while the flailing never quite stopped, it got quite a bit less dramatic and protracted.

Then we added jumps! Now we were trotting over two poles and a crossrail, turning left, jumping another crossrail across the center of the arena, and then cantering on the right lead through the last set of poles. The goal of the exercise was to work on turning and balance. I expected C-rage to be a nutter, but he surprised me. He was totally unimpressed by the trot poles and X, stepped right over the next X, and then I opted to trot the rest.

And then we did it again. He hopped the first X and deer leaped the second one because we added fill. I stayed with him and kicked on and we landed in the most balanced right lead canter that we maintained all the way around the end WITH NO FLAILING!!! WOOHOO!!! He trotted the last poles, but I was happy with him.

Take aways from the lesson:
1) We're on the right track. Courage was comfortable in the group, good in company, and pretty easy to deal with. His good work is very good.
2) It is better to deal with the random forward/flailing thing than to have to kick him constantly.
3) It is important to address the flailing now. Keeping him forward is the right idea, but I also need to change his balance and put him to work IMMEDIATELY so he doesn't get the idea that he can just piss off for a few strides when he's in the mood for it.As our instructor put it, "if he thinks he can do that for 4 or 5 strides and you have a jump in 3, you're in trouble."

Rocking their sexy coolers!
I'm hoping to hop on him today, then I have ANOTHER LESSON on Saturday, this time with S. So many lessons! I love the holidays. Happy late Thanksgiving to everyone!


  1. Nice, multiple lesson weeks always lead to lots of progress for me! You might remember that Connor went through a flailing stage too, and we didn't really canter much the whole first year I had him. Cathy Jones-Forsberg said it was like he didn't know where his feet were, and that signals were taking longer than they should to get from my body to his brain to his body because he had to consciously think about every single one. I think you're on the right track to fixing it. Sometimes their bodies mature faster than their brains, and it just takes time for them to develop proprioception. We used to have a bodywork person come to the racetrack when I worked there, and she'd do things like wrap polo wraps around their front and hindquarter in a figure 8 and then put them on the hotwalker to teach the ones that grew too fast where their bodies were. Weird stuff, but it seemed to work for the flail-y ones.

  2. Happy Thanksgiving! I'm so happy you're getting lessons. :D

  3. I love that pattern on his cooler.

    I think returning to the circle is a good idea since it is a lot harder to get strung out. He sounds like so much fun.

  4. Sounds good to me.

    Thoroughbred lesson #1: Keep them busy. The more they have to think the less nonsense you will have.

    Too many people just ride on a circle or maintain a lead for a long time. Better to mix it up as much as you can. Lots of transitions now, changes of direction, etc. He will find he needs to keep his balance and his brain engaged at the same time....gee, what a concept *G*.

  5. I agree with Jean, Keeping their minds busy is the best way to get through all that flailing and young horse stuff :P
    Sounds like a fun/very good lesson.

  6. Oh greenies...constantly changing their quirks! Sounds like you guys are really on a roll :). Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!


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