We have now entered November, I have had Chance for almost four months now, and what a journey it has been!! I dont really know how to catch someone up in one post so this might be a series of posts. Within four months he has not only been able to be ridden smoothly and confidently walk, trot and canter on the flat and in the open, but we did our first schooling shows, one dressage and one over fences. Not bad for a four year old off the track thoroughbred!!!
Chance came to me basically straight off the track training-wise, with an 8 month layoff. The story I heard was that after his last breeze (a workout where the horse is asked to run his fastest) he came up lame. This might have landed him in the auction pen, and more than likely would have, but he was taken into a sort of midway home for thoroughbreds. As I mentioned, he came to me via an odd path, but more or less, he found me.
Chance’s first weekend consisted of my conning our farrier to come out much sooner than he was able because Chance had been trimmed WAY too short and could hardly walk on the ground surrounding our barn. I have a couple of photos of him from those first days, but essentially he was coated in mud, had many bangs and bruises, a terrible coat and generally was in pretty sad shape. He also was slightly underweight, and rather listless for a four year old.
Chance’s first ride came after a bit of a long wait because of the condition that his poor feet were in. So by the time I could finally get on him, it felt like ages, even though it was only a few days. He settled in well, I spent two entire days camped out in his stall, getting to know him, watching him and learning about him. Chance was decently polite, but standoffish. He stood well to be saddled and lunged pretty well, although was not very good on his right side.
Our first ride was uneventful, except for my giggling like an idiot, and him being a perfect angel. We walked and trotted both directions, with an audience for the entire thing. There is not much else to say about the ride except that his manners were a precursor to the heart that he has shown for the last four months.
Conditioning and Groundwork
In the next several weeks I continued to lunge Chance before riding him, although he never did much misbehaving, other than getting progressively more fresh as time passed. We did quite a bit of walking under saddle, and eventually worked up to trotting and then a few strides of cantering. He seemed much more balanced than most four year olds that I have ridden, although I might be biased. He also quickly picked up on forming a headset. I did this by lunging him for a few weeks in side reins, and then asking him to come into the bit slowly during our rides. I also worked him over poles to introduce picking up his feet and to help his muscle tone.
I feel like this post is rather dry, but it is just a catch up, I regret not posting during the events, as I am sure that they would
have been more emotionally stirring and exciting!!!