Saturday, August 24, 2013

Underway Undersaddle

Soon had been on the farm for maybe four or five weeks when I decided to hop on him on August 11th.  He had settled into the farm very well, and he just seemed like he was ready to do some work.  Mentally he was very relaxed, and physically he looked and moved wonderfully (not "track tight" like some horses).  All in all, he did have about two months since his last race and when I got on him, as he did spend a month hanging out at the track.

Our first ride!
Judging by his demeanor when I worked him in the ring on the ground, I didn't get the impression that he would need to be lunged or run around ahead of time.  He was always super quiet, and I had done some work on/around the mounting block, and naturally that was a non-issue.  I tacked him up, and after the saddle went on, he came to stand by the door as if to say "I'm ready."  He was completely relaxed and practically falling asleep when I put his bridle on.  We walked out to the indoor ring, I got on like I got on any seasoned sport horse, and the rest is history.  He was wonderful!

I try to ride him four days in a row, with a couple days off, then another four days on.  Typically day one has been a refresher, with walk/trot/canter both directions.  Thus far I've introduced some lateral work, in-hand first, and then undersaddle.  He leg yields and is getting the hang of turn on the forehand and turn on the haunches.  He also does a lateral flexion routine undersaddle, which only took him about 30 seconds to figure out.  He truly seems very intelligent, and his work ethic undersaddle is nothing short of awesome.  He really is a true professional when you sit on him.  And while he's fresh off the track, at seven years old, he's been ridden for most of his life, and he knows his job.  As good as he is on the ground, so far he seems even more sensible with a person on him.

He's a little sticky on picking up his right lead (no shock there), but once he does, he is a dream at the canter.  It's so nice when a horse has a naturally nice canter.  More on that later.  But overall, he has been fabulous and such a joy to work with!  I am truly floored by his attitude and willingness.  He is learning about my leg and my aids, and how I ask for various things.  He's not "hot" by any means - if anything, he's a little dead to the aids as some horses off the track can be.  He is super relaxed and quiet, and rides like he's been a pleasure horse all his life. 

I've always been a little picky on what I wanted from my next horse, riding wise.  Soon continues to impress me and prove that he's better than I could have ever hoped for.  He's not too tall or short, he's not too wide or narrow.  He moves well, and is comfortable to ride.  He is SO light in the bridle too - I barely have to touch the reins with this boy.   He doesn't avoid contact with the bit by any means - he just is a very good listener and has great breaks, so a simple "whoa" brings him right back down with hardly any contact. 

He's learning about forward, rhythm and straightness, and we're starting to work on contact.  I believe strongly in a basic dressage foundation, and he's making amazing progress with just nine rides at home.  He's naturally a very well balanced horse, and light in front, which is making this way easier than I thought it would be.  When I say he's my "dream" horse, I'm really starting to believe it!  Now the next question...will he jump??

We'll find out this week or next.  He does ground poles like a champ, trots right through a long series of them without a second thought.  I suspect that if done right, he'll do fine over fences as well.

By the way...he hacks out!! :-)  Meaning he's great out of the ring, walking around the farm like a trail horse.  Even when I asked him to go bushwhacking for a little bit, he did so happily.  I'm just as proud of those rides where we do nothing but just walk around and check stuff out.  I am so thrilled with this boy!

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