Monday, March 31, 2014

Whoo! Screencaps!

Some still shots from last night's video.  Note his back being up and him being actively stepping under with the hind end.  He has a noticeably longer stride; I seriously cannot believe some of the evidence knowing where he started.  Check out the difference in these photos from January.  Such an improvement!

Walk, good activity from the inside hind

Trot stills:







Canter shots:



The "rolling ball" feeling of the back up and horse stretching across the topline
It's nice to post these, because the video compression software I use actually seems to vertically compress the video, which makes us look much taller/skinner than we are, and masks his step a little compared the original raw footage.  Oh well.  At least you can see in the stills above that he's making some great progress in terms of back and topline development, engagement behind, and length of stride.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

HOLY CRAP


I got video of me riding and IT’S NOT EMBARRASSING!  :-D

Soonie and I did our video progress update tonight, and I am so, SO thrilled with how he’s coming along.  Seriously, the change even from the January video is pretty significant, just in the quality of his gait.  But when you look back at the first September video, it is like he’s a completely different horse.  Completely different!

 The benefit of the stretch work and really developing the topline and gait is illustrated in his progress over the last few months.  I wholeheartedly believe in this type of work – while stretching has always had a part of my training program, the shift in focus since November has had an enormous improvement in Soon’s way of going.  Before when stretching made up maybe 20% of my ride and 80% was done on a shorter rein, easily 80-90% of my ride is now done in the stretch with short moments of a higher outline.  Over time, Soon will be able to maintain the same quality and swing in his gaits with that shorter outline/more elevated poll.  You can see how much more engaged he is in the hind end; how much more he steps under himself and how much more active and swinging he is overall.  He’ll never be a big moving horse, but he’s developing so much more step thanks to this work.

I hope this video also demonstrates his happy attitude toward work.  He is such a wonderfully pleasant individual to work with, and he really seems to be enjoying the stretching.  I’m happy to take a “classical” approach, sans funny bicorn hat and gold plated bridle.  No gadgets, no rushing, just good back to front riding.  Seriously – if nothing else, it makes me so happy and satisfied as a trainer to see a horse loving his work like Soonie is.  If I never win another ribbon again, it’s all still worth it.  Love him!


Saturday, March 22, 2014

So apparently...

...getting your Amateur status back with the USEF is not as simple as clicking "Amateur" and signing that you aren't a professional anymore.  Apparently, they want a notarized letter from yourself stating that you haven't participated in the horse industry in a professional capacity in the last 12 months, proof of other employment, notarized letters from at least two other active Senior USEF members testifying that you're not a bloody liar and you are in fact an Amateur, more money to "process" the application, a first born child, blood of a unicorn, and Jimmy Hoffa.


 Seriously considering just saying "forget it" and keeping my Professional status for the time being, considering I'm not bent on showing and I'm not entirely sure why I renewed my USEF membership in the first place (I must have been bored).  They make it SO EASY to declare Professional status (seriously, just click the box! Clicky clicky!), and make it such a giant PAIN IN THE ASS to return to being an Amateur.  I am going to think about this.



In other news, Soonie and I are moving back to the east coast!  He and I will be heading to the glorious horse country of the Mid-Atlantic region this summer.  I am so unbelievably lucky to have the opportunity to return to that part of the country I loved so much when I was a professional horseman.  Now I get to enjoy it with a different profession and a little better income!  I am already shopping around for barns for Bubba, because he deserves the best.  Good thing I have lots of options.  My dream for him is to be able to (eventually) live in a beautiful, green pasture with his buddies when I'm not fussing over him.  We'll have plenty of hunting, eventing, trail riding, etc adventures out there for sure!  :)

He's continued to be brilliant all week under saddle.  He was actually a little forward tonight with the cooler weather that set in, but all that means is we had to canter off a couple laps of excess energy before getting to real canter work.  No big deal, I stayed up in the two-point and let him roll along in a nice, forward stretch.  We had a really great complete flat school tonight, which built off the two terrific trot stretch schools from the last couple of days. Love this boy.  He is my whole world right now.  <3


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Holy awesome flat school, Batman!

I'll spare you the overly verbose and probably really repetitive description....tonight's flat school was super duper fantasticsauce! 

We did our usual walking warm up with leg yields and square turns/turns on the haunches.  We moved into our trot and Soonie went immediately into the stretch, and got very loose and swinging after only 10 minutes of trot work.  He stepped into the right lead canter beautifully from the trot stretch, and gave me an amazing stretch canter.  He was so loose and forward tonight.  It's so great when I'm on him and can recognize, in that exact moment, how good the quality of the gait is and how fantastic he feels.  Same thing on left lead, then a flying change back to right lead and he got REALLY deep in the stretch at the very end in the canter.  He was clearly feeling great because he was super elastic - seriously, his nose was maybe a foot off the ground in a lovely, forward canter.  It's like riding a ball that's rolling forward.  We stepped back to a deep trot stretch, and called it a night.  Probably about only 20-25 minutes of actual work.  What a lovely boy.  :)

Can't wait to get more recent footage because he's made enormous progress in just a month or so of focused schooling.

Who's the best?  Bubba is!

I crib on other horse's stall doors

It took exactly 37 seconds....

...for my USEF/USHJA membership renewals to get effed up.  I haven't been an active member since 2007 (ish?), back when I was a Professional, and now I want my ammy status back and specifically selected AMATEUR, signed, and selected that I accepted the terms and complied with the regs...and my temp card absolutely says SENIOR PRO.  Thanks internet.  Can't wait to jump through hoops to get this fixed.



In other news, Soonie has been fantastic.  Here's a recap of our shenanigans:

Last Saturday:  Had his first chiropractic adjustment (and spring shots yay!).  He was excellent for the vet when she did the chiro work on him, he received many compliments.  If he goes missing, I know to question the vet first.  He got the day off from work because of the adjustment.

Last Sunday:  Planned on taking him for a very light ride, doing some bending/suppling stuff at the walk and maybe at the trot.  Didn't want to push it given that he had just received the chiropractic treatment.  He had been kicked on the top of his right front leg, and walked out of the stall three legged lame.  He milked it.  Walked back to his stall soundly (MAGIC!!) and got the day off just to be safe.

Monday:  Was seen running around field all day.  Very sound. 

Thursday:  Flat school (walk/trot), good boy.

Friday:  I went to ride in the evening and found him with his face in his large dinner (barn crew fed late), and I elected not to make him work in the unseasonably warm weather and on a full stomach.  He rejoiced, I was pissed.

Saturday:  Very awesome long hack down the road in 60+ degree weather!  Got to sport his new Back on Track sheet for a couple of hours too!  :)

Sunday:  Another awesome flat school, this time around some other horses/riders, he was showing off his stretching skills.

He was great last night too, even when one of the school horses had a special moment and bolted.  The key with Soonie now is lots of leg yields at the walk and trot - gets him softer faster, and deeper into the stretch.  He yields wonderfully off the leg in the stretch too.  The loose, swinging, forward gait is such a big difference from when I was first introducing leg yields to him and trying to hold him together. 
Happy boy!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Jump school

Soonie and I had a great jump school this evening, and got two clean flying changes (one in each direction).  We had a jump set in the middle of the ring and we did circles over it.  He was fantastic, kept his leads and was very obedient when I picked my track and tried to stay straight before/over/after the fence.  We also had a single vertical on the short diagonal off the wall which rode very well, and a single oxer.  As always, he was soft and super adjustable for everything, and answered all the questions exceptionally well.  He really rides like a much more experienced horse.  Trainer was full of compliments tonight, because Bubba was a super star.  :)

The best boy!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Flying changes!

Soonie has flying changes in BOTH directions! :-D


 I decided to play with them tonight for the hell of it.  I wasn't expecting much (I had ridden a flying change on him back when we couldn't pick up the right lead canter, so I knew they're there somewhere).  We started off on the right lead, short diagonal turn and swap to the left.  Nailed it.  Big praise for Mr. Smarty Pants, and tried it to the right.  I lost his hind end trying to get the right swap (not surprised, right lead is his bad side anyway), so we tried again left lead canter off a shorter diagonal turn, and I leg yielded off the right leg for three strides before I asked with my new outside (left) leg for the swap.  BAM!  Clean change to the right lead!  We went on and did another clean left lead change, and then once more to the right lead.  Three clean swaps in a row, all thanks to that handy little leg yield.  He didn't rush and he didn't get flustered at all.  GOOD BOY!   I praised him so loud I think I might have scared the lesson kids.  :-D   The key with him just seems to be straight and forward, with a couple strides of leg yield to set him up.  I won't drill these, but we'll visit from time to time just to make sure they're confirmed.  I am SO happy with him!


(And to those of you thinking, "Of course he has swaps, he's a racehorse, all the good ones have changes installed from the track," shhhhhhh.  I'm excited.  This is exciting for me, so I am being excited.  Not having to spend a lot of time on canter-walk-canter transitions and building up to changes from scratch is pretty much amazing to me right now)


Add in the fact that his stretch work has been nothing short of stellar the last week or two, and you can color me thrilled.  He's been forward (trying to get more step out of him in the trot), soft, leg yields off the center and quarter lines while still in stretch, overall just really nailing his long and low work.  Here are some screen shots from the video back in January for visual aids:




He's still my sweet, sleepy Bubba  :)  <3