So according to the logbook I keep of all my rides/sessions, I finished 616 sessions so far in 2015. The majority of this will be riding, but there’s also a lot of lunging and long-lining and free jumping in there, and loading and halter training… and if I have to hold a particularly difficult horse for feet/teeth/whatever, I count that, too. Cuz I can.
That’s about 300-450 hours, which is cool but I can do better. So maybe in the next half I shall!
Anyway, wannabe brag material aside, here’s a review on some real goals:
Get her fit– Gotcha! She’s lost a tad of fitness now, with being a little under the weather over the weekend and having a slow week due to rider having to be in two places at once, but nothing major. To finish with 0.4 time penalties on cross-country at Springs, especially considering how spooky she was to the jumps, she’s got to be fit enough for her level. Build her upper neck muscle
- School Elementary Medium successfully – We knew the dressage goal was going to be the slow and tedious one. Still hammering on this. Dressage ain’t a thing you can really force, so we’re not too panicky about achieving this – quality work over chasing levels.
Introduce scary-looking jumps– We can keep working on it, but we haven’t had a stop in competition since March. She’s getting much more courageous. We worked on solid skinnies and spooky tires at home. Have her go through water more easily Show graded in EV70– We did AND IT ROCKED. Okay, so there was no dressage, but who’s counting? We were 8th in a class of 31. I count that as achieved.
Complete advanced halter training
- Leading over, through and under scary things – Busy on this, but not quite done with going over spooky stuff yet.
Leading away from his group– We’ve got this. No screaming, no jogging on the way back, no napping. I’ll take it.
- Bathing – We got halfway with this and then winter came; we’ll resume in summer.
Desensitisation to noise and sight– I flapped my jacket all over him. He went to sleep. Mission accomplished.
- Loading preparation – work in progess; I still want him to go over a tarpaulin.
- Injections – Some improvement, but we’re not there yet
- Be gelded – Probably going to be postponed to next winter.
Lowering of the head when requested by pressure on the halter Basic lunging with a halter and long line only– This is fine.
- Leading from the right – I totally forgot this (it’s been a few years since I raised my own baby) but it’s a handy skill. Working on it now.
- Wearing a roller
- Lunging over poles
- Preparation for clipping – I don’t have clippers yet so…
- Wearing boots – All these lunging-related goals will most likely will be left for next year unless he suddenly matures a lot. Being a warmblood, he’s really not at the same level of physical or mental maturity as Thunny was when he was this age. I’m using my work with Thun as a baseline because it’s the best experience I have, but while Thunder knew all this by the end of his second year, Exavior isn’t going to get there. I want him to get on the horsebox, lead from the right, and walk a few nice laps on the lunge and then he’s going back out of work for a little while, maybe even to the end of the year, except for a couple of baths and talking about injections. No point in cooking a baby brain, and he can go out and horse for a while with no damage to his people skills.
Improve fitness Tie up– He will still fly back if something truly upsets him, but he now stands tied really nicely for his grooming every morning and if he steps back and feels the pull, he yields to pressure instead of losing his brain. Honestly, few horses will stand tied under pressure, and the skill isn’t important enough in my situation to break even more halters and potentially necks. I’m okay with him now; daily tying for grooming will serve to improve this skill gently over time. Load School Novice– I’m going to call this one a win, for a horse that is probably never going to compete in stressage. I practiced Novice 1-3 on him over and over again preparation for Arwen’s show and he was really good, even with the French link on. Leg-yields are also almost there, after all, Novice only requires H-L level of leg-yields.
- Survive a hack – We went to the end of the road and back without dying, but that doesn’t count as a hack, so I’m not crossing this out just yet.
Be confident at 80cm
- Show graded at 70cm showjumping – We jumped a terrifying and wonderful clear at 70cm at a training show, so we’re making our way towards this! Our next show will be 50cm, 60cm and 70cm again, and then I’ll play it by ear as to whether we do 80cm next show. My criterion for going graded is single and simple: I want him to walk into the arena and know exactly what he is supposed to do. No point in paying the earth to take a spooky baby to a show and have three stops by the second jump. When he goes in and says to me, “OK, I know what we do now,” then we can move on to graded. The height does not seem to be an issue but he likes to halfway stop at his first few fences every show, so I want to eliminate that first.
Fix his mild tendency to get in your space Get him to stand dead still for a bath
- Introduce flying changes – Ugh. I suck so much at flying changes. SO MUCH. I can’t get them out of Arwen yet, so poor Thun hasn’t even really been asked for them yet. Still striving for this but I won’t force him and make him worried.
- Improve on sliding stops, spins and rein backs – This is an ongoing goal but we’ve already made HUGE improvements. Like, we actually slide in our sliding stops! Spins are at least a little smoother if reeeeaaaally slow (Friesians don’t do fast until they spook), and rein backs are appropriate for his level, we get 10 steps in style and 15 sloppy steps if I beg.
- Log as many trail miles as possible – Work in progress. I am getting so tired and bored with hacking alone, but it’s just a matter of making myself do it. As soon as I have a really cool hack horse again I’m sure my motivation will get better, but I need motivation to get that really cool hack horse ready!
All in all, I’m quite happy with our progress so far, mostly because not only have we been getting results but we’ve been improving relationships. And ultimately, that’s what horsemanship is all about. Glory to the King ❤