Monday, October 27, 2014

Lesson Recap: In Which Courage Busts All the Moves

To start, I apologize for my total lack of related media. It wasn't a visually dramatic lesson and it was in fading light and it did require every ounce of my concentration, so pictures weren't so much happening.


S came out last Thursday evening. I hadn't been able to ride Courage since early Monday morning and HO BOY LEAPING AND CRAY CRAY.

I even lunged him first. Then when I got on he was ok to walk, a speedstar in the trot (wtf where is my lazy horse) and freaking unmanageable at the canter. Like we seriously spent 5 or 10 minutes of cantering around at the beginning of the lesson while Courage dolphin leaped and flailed and spooked at absolutely everything. He probably spooked more in 10 minutes then he's spooked in the entire rest of the time I've owned him.

At least I was riding like a total badass.

Unrelated cute dog picture
So after we more or less got through that, we started the lesson. S said that Courage is doing really well in that he's figured out it's his job to always get to the other side of the jump. To this point, we've been setting distances and poles around him. Now it's time for him to learn to fit himself into the poles and do (dun dun dun) FOOTWORK!!

So we did. She set up two lines of 4 poles each. The poles were set 9' apart. The idea was to trot in and be able to put three trot strides in each 9' section. Given Courage's mental state, we compromised and decided two was good enough for now.

That is to say, he would trot the first one and then leap and flail into the horizon. The tricky part was really finding the balance of letting him figure it out and how much for me to help him. We know he really hates any pulling on his mouth at all, but he also can't be a total pig about it if he also wants to leap and flail.

With many theatrics, we finally got the striding right and the ride just so and then S ADDED IN JUMPS. So picture 3 poles 9' apart, then a 2' jump that we still needed to trot to. Courage did alright with the little vertical, but HO BOY he nearly lost all the marbles when she added barrels to his canter poles.

But hey. I kept riding like a very tactful badass and by the end, we could canter through those poles on a 9' stride including the barrels and trot through the grid I neglected to photograph that was the same thing only with a vertical. 

And then I shaved him. Because hair.
It was a fantastic lesson and not just because S went to hang out with some friends from an old barn afterwards and bragged about me (not gonna lie, that felt good). Courage was doing very hard mental work, but instead of checking out, he was very expressively staying with me. I rode great. I was at no point over-horsed or afraid, and we got some new tools to work with as we progress through the winter.

Also. One should not let one's super fit OTTB sit for four days in cold weather and then expect a good ride.

So yeah, guess what he did all weekend?

I'm bringing an 8 second timer to the barn today.


  1. This explains well why I give up riding when the weather gets bad enough to put several days between rides. Otherwise every ride is full of flailing and theatrics. LOL. They keep life interesting. It sounds like you are finding your courage and that is a great thing. Great job sticking with it and ignoring his flailing and making it a great ride!

  2. SO PROUD of you for riding like a total bad ass! Glad you and Courage stuck with it and had some success. But I'd still bring that timer to the barn today :)

  3. Super fit Haffies have the same issue. No riding for 4 days straight? Don't expect anything productive! But so glad you stuck it out and worked through it and GOT IT DONE. And now you know that you can, and that's the most important thing!

  4. I find that Connor's like that right after I clip, full of the zoomies and very forward. Fun fun fun. :) Way to handle it.

  5. Wow! Those kinds of antics at the beginning of the lesson would have made me nervous - good for you for riding so well under those conditions, especially with a challenging exercise! Courage is just the bestest!

  6. sounds awesome! good for you for riding through it - the lesson sounds particularly educational for Courage too, love those pole exercises!

  7. Riding like a badass definitely makes every bad move on his part totally okay. I'm glad you both stuck with it and it sounds like you really got his brain working and he didn't fall apart on you. Woot woot!

  8. Woop woop, way to be a bad ass & stick with him. Sounds like a fab lesson with plenty food for thought & stuffs to work on ☺

  9. Sounds like an exciting warm up!!!!! Good job sticking with him and I'm so, so happy for the confidence you have found with him. He truly is your courage. :D Also I love his cooler and the picture of the dogs too.

  10. Fun! Yay for winter and riding like a B.A.

  11. Those faces. Those are just dang good face to look at.


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