Yesterday was my four-month mark for having Chance!! I cannot believe that the time has gone so quickly, and just when I feel like we have something mastered, we come up with more and more plans and things we need to work on!
Today, started with a dusting of snow and a venture over to a local swap meet, where I realize that I should have brought some of my unused tack, but alas, I keep collecting, even though my horsey wish-list just keeps getting longer. Then I took my pony out for a ride. Lately we have been working on little baby jumps, and continuing everything to do with conditioning and flat work.
When Chance arrived he was skinny with very little muscle tone, now I have a moderate BMI horse with still a little weight to put on, and lots of muscle, (relative for a four year old thoroughbred.) Because of our extensive build up from walking to trotting to cantering he did put on the weight, but it has been a little slow going as he is in work 5-6 days a week. None the less we have gotten there, and I think he and I are both working towards getting in better shape.
Today we had a nice solid warm up, although something in my riding is feeling a little off, perhaps I am over analyzing it, but I feel I need to tighten up everything and ride stronger. My hand position (which has been pitiful in the preceding months) has gotten significantly better. We continue to work on bending, and I force myself to go our ‘bad’ way, going to the left. Chance has a tendency to travel with his haunches in going to the left, so my left leg is constantly pushing him over. I think his difficulty comes from his old hip injury and my weakness on that side due to a more recent knee injury. That combined, we are not so strong going to the left. To the right his lateral work is excellent, working on shoulder in and some small leg yields. Some friends came into the arena and changed the jumps before I got to them, so we waited and watched her jump about 2’6+ which made me just want to increase my height and go for it…. but then I remind myself I am riding a four year old and it is more about being correct and gaining confidence, than going for it and jumping for the heights…. which is ever so hard! Anyways, we hung out and watched our friends jump and then I changed the fences if about 18″-2′ and hopped around a bit. Mostly working on myself today, and letting him do his job, but we are still working on finding distances, and me keeping my eyes up and shoulders back. He and I also worked on changing paces within gaits, slow collected trots, to a little bit extended, doing the same at the canter. He seems to really respond to these changes, as he tends to get bored then get a little spooky if we just school at the same pace.
I am really trying to tell myself to be patient with Chance, as I know if I push him I will regret it. As a racehorse I know he already had stressors on his legs and body, so I have to remember to pace myself. I read somewhere that a horse only has limited jumps in him, so I just need to remind myself not to spend those jumps. As a general rule I also try not to jump my horses too much as a four year old, and step them up when they are five, so Chance is right on track to continue that next year. For now we will continue building our confidence and abilities. My goal is to get him up to schooling consistently at 2’6, but my timeframe is flexible. If we can do that within a few months, then I will be satisfied. Like I said I do things gradually, so I will bump him up for a fence or two, then bring down the heights and work on correctness. Chance seems a little bored on the flat lately, so I would like to take him out on the trails or a little xc schooling soon, just for a change of scenery. If not, then hopefully I can keep our rides interesting for the both of us.
In the future I would like to do some gridwork with him, to help both of us find our spots a little better and work on myself keeping my shoulders and eyes up, letting the horse create the motion for the both of us. I would really love to get in some lessons soon, but heck, even finding time to ride is difficult sometimes. We also need to work on more and more dressage. He likes dressage, but still is a bit of a baby and struggles keeping the movements controlled. Again, this helps us with our dreaded left side. I would love to buy a couple of books, one on dressage movements, and one on jumping exercises. I need as much help as I can get, especially with things to help with our problem spots or something to move up to. Tomorrow I think I am going to bust out the dressage saddle and really get down to business. One goal for tomorrow: getting the left lead in the dressage arena