Tuesday, January 9, 2018

What we've been working on

Nothing! We've been grounded since before Christmas, you're all caught up, the end!

the dopeasaurus rex says that's fine by him, there was no
cookie shortage on his end.

In all actuality, we completed our third ride since before Christmas this morning so things are getting pretty serious. I don't really buy into the whole, "Your horse's lungs are going to bleed and he'll develop pneumonia and you'll both die." thing when it comes to cold weather, but since I do barn chores every morning during the week, I do buy into being able to say a big old nope with no shame when it doesn't hit (positive) double digits for two weeks straight. I'm already tired, and cold, and cranky, and the very last thing I want to do is take my horse's clothes off and stay cold, and tired, and probably cranky even longer.

Plus I was able to justify it to myself further. Dopie officially turns five Saturday, he's only been off the track since the end of October, and I don't want to burn his little brain out by ramming things into it in less than ideal conditions. Mental and physical vacation for the baby horse, yay!

Only Opie was not really down with this plan after the first week or so, and BM finally texted me in the middle of the day to tell me my horse was yet again being a monster outside--weaving, running the fence line, screaming his brains out even with his two pasture mates hanging out calmly just behind him. You know, just everything I hate horses to do.

"wow, sounds naughty. what sort of horse does that?"

I have no idea how to go about fixing those issues aside from waiting for the snow to melt so they can wander out further and start nibbling grass, and making Sir Lazy of the Laziest tired enough that chillin' with his homies is a far better idea than being obnoxious.

I put him on the longe a couple days last week where he was Satan incarnate, but when I finally got aboard for the first time last Thursday, he was absolutely lovely to hack around for fifteen minutes. I even took him outside for his first solo trail ride where he doped along and didn't make a peep.

Then we dipped well below zero, and I was shoveling two to three times a day for three days straight to keep up with the fucking blizzard we got, and I didn't get back on until Monday. At which point he did make a peep--several peeps in fact, though I suppose all less ear piercing than when I first got him.

if someone would just pay attention to me instead of being so concerned about
everything anything else going on...

Regardless of the minor problems going on elsewhere in Opie's little world, we are getting a lot done under saddle. This kid doesn't take steps backwards, he retains everything good or bad. He's smart and sensitive, and he tends to get frazzled when he doesn't understand what you're asking. Also he's pretty lazy so he's not above throwing childish tantrums when he does know what you're asking but it's hard, so no thanks, maybe if he flings his giant head and tiny neck around you'll be super intimidated and quit. Yeah, no.

"work smarter, not harder. then you get more cookies."
So here's where we're at in the baby dressage horse getting its learn on stage of training.

Bend: He, unsurprisingly, had no concept of what this is, and I felt like it was the biggest issue with picking up the right lead. So I went to the ground because that's where I'm more comfortable introducing new issues, not being any sort of real dressage whiz--or, you know, having any real understanding of keeping up with my horse's body parts in real time while I'm riding. After my concussion, my brain is so slow to process while riding, and it just frustrates me and then the horse and things spiral down unnecessarily. After a few in-hand sessions, the wheels got turning in Opie's head, and now we can mostly get proper bend around the corners and on big circles. Sometimes the steering still fails, and sometimes he'd just rather not so he gets mock offended by my leg and swishes his tail to show me his vast displeasure before quitting and just doing what I ask because lazy.

Leg: Putting it on does not mean go, except when it means go. This is very confusing for Opie who initially was like, "Okay, you said don't go faster when you add leg, so I won't!" and then I try to squeeze to get him to move forward more and he's all, "Nope, not falling for that. You said no going faster!" He's getting better about listening for other aids when my legs do something, and he's got quite a cute little shoulder-fore and leg yield at the walk now.

Canter: I've said it several times before--our arena is long, but really narrow so balancing around the short sides is hard fucking work for a baby racehorse with a huge canter stride and next to no sense of balance. He flip-flopped at the beginning on which lead was easier for him, but he's firmly in the left lead camp now. I finally wised up this morning and shortened my stirrups a hole to canter which was a massive help for me being able to sit and use my body with him. I'll get video this weekend of his canter so hopefully it comes across, but for how small he is, his canter is enormous. Even Riding Bestie was all, "Whoa, I was not expecting that." when she rode him. We can now do several circles in a row on the left lead, but the picking up the right lead is cause for much angst for Opie. If he gets upset and doesn't pick it up, we go back to the walk and trot until he's calm again, and then try again. If he picks it up, we do a lap, come back to the walk, and then cookie.

bobby never put his ears forward either, but at least he wasn't always shooting me
dirty side eye while looking like a petulant donkey.

Nothing we're working on is out of the ordinary for where he's at. In fact, I think he's a thousand miles ahead of where he could be just due to his natural affinity for seeking the connection and being light and easy on the bit. He doesn't llama, and he only tries pulling when he starts getting anxious which usually goes away after a couple of chill-out laps.

He's able to carry a little more forward at both the walk and trot without losing his balance and tripping over his own feet and falling on his face. That is not an exaggeration. It happens just like that.

I messed up so many things early on with Red, Storm, and Bobby that I'm probably going too slow with Opie, but I don't want to lay down another incorrect foundation. However, I'm also far and away a more educated rider now than I was with any of those horses. Part of me really wants to scramble around and dig up money for lessons that unfortunately just aren't in the budget quite yet, but at the same time nothing we're doing is out of my realm of experience. He needs strength, and he needs to learn about his body parts, and I'm more than capable of getting him to the point where BM can actually teach us things instead of telling me to do exactly what I'm doing. Just gotta trust the process!

and keep feeding cookies. obvi.

31 comments:

  1. I'm just here for snoot photos 😍 carry on!

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  2. man he's got some serious side eye!!! also that pic where he's kinda looking back at you from the saddle.... yea that looks mighty familiar lol (tho my horse's ears are usually more pinned when he shoots me that look). sometimes these ottb brainiacs think they're just so smart, too clever for their own good!

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    1. That's Opie's "Cookies are Incoming" face. It would have been Bobby's "I'm Judging You So Hard Right Now" face.

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  3. Every horse we get a bit better at training horses and its a wonderful thing. :P

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  4. Petulant Donkey. I can't stop laughing.

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    1. I have one of those, and minus the fraggle bangs, she makes that face every single day when I bodily push her out of the barn.

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    2. If you're not careful, your face will freeze like that! #petulantdonkey

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  5. that side-eye tho hahah. glad he is being a good donkey for you

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    1. Pretty sure he came out of the womb throwing side eye.

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  6. I love the foundation you're putting on him! Sometimes I worry I'm going to slow with Scout, but I think that learning from past horses and seeing the little holes or things you overlooked in training become valuable tools to help do things right this around:) I can't wait to see Snoot's canter!

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    1. OMG, I just saw your "If you can't say anything nice, fuck off"... I LOVE YOU!

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    2. That's been up for awhile now, and fortunately seems to work pretty well! :D

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  7. I'm really impressed with where you guys are already. And he's so smart... I hope if I ever attempt an OTTB again, I get one with at least half that brain.

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    1. You should do a little Finger Lakes shopping--I'll go with you!

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    2. Be careful what you offer! When the time is right, I'll totally take you up on that!

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    3. You know it! I'm available for long distance on track stalking as well if you can't make it out.

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  8. I love how we actually learn and are able to be better with each horse. I definitely feel that way with Zoe and it helps a lot.

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    1. Some were hard lessons, but I'm definitely better for them!

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  9. I just love him and all of his expressions

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    1. I was going to say the say the exact same thing. His facial expressions are the best!

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    2. I wish he would look a little sweeter instead of like a grumpy child all the time.

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  10. I've now learned that Jack also does not do well with breaks... like 3 weeks with no jump lesson turns into 20 minutes of aggressively riding past flower boxes because OH GAWD WHAT ARE THOSE THINGS. Opie is cute enough that he can be easily forgiven though?!

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    1. Does that work for Jack? BECAUSE IT DOES NOT WORK FOR OPIE. ;)

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  11. I MUST SEE THIS CANTER!

    Man, I feel you on the getting attention thing. I finally feel like Bast is starting to get that I still deserve attention when I'm on him, which, thank you Lord. The trumpeting has likewise nearly disappeared, though it will come out every once in awhile when the weasles in his head make bad decisions.

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    1. I feel like I've set myself up for failure now, especially after he was a little rooting piglet during it this morning!

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  12. i would buy a calendar with Opie Side Eye Bitchy Petulant Donkey expressions. just saying :) HA HA HA HA Oh what a bad Snoot. :) Love him. And his opinions. :) Never dull right?

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    1. There's certainly no shortage of that look being thrown around!

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  13. I really dunno if there is a "too slow"! I think everything you're doing seems perfect for him and for you for where you are.

    And damn does he ever have some serious freaking side-eye. My word...

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If you can't say anything nice, fuck off.