Happy New Year everyone!!
As a few of you know, I had the opportunity to purchase a young, green horse (Romeo) this past fall. Yes that’s right, a third horse… This horse wasn’t much to look at in the field,
and it wasn’t until I sat on him twenty minutes later that I felt something in him. This horse very quickly reminded me of Breaking Boundaries in his attitude and the feeling that there is something worth searching for hidden under that heavy horse build.
Unfortunately purchasing a horse in November in Ottawa when you don’t have an indoor arena leads to a slow start. The first month was slow in progress do the weather conditions, but now that we are settled into our winter facility with an arena we are well underway. We’ve quickly learned that while Romeo can certainly jump and has some scope he still needs some of the building blocks to put it all together, as all green horses do. So thus began the gymnastics work! Gymnastics are a great tool for horses of all ages and experiences, as well as riders and trainers to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the horse.. For green horses gymnastics are fundamental in teaching them rhythm, accuracy, balance, straightness, and overall correctness.
With green horses it can be tempting to move too quickly in our hurry and anticipation to see what they are capable of. However, it is very important to take the time and ensure that the horse has the time to fully learn and understand a skill before he is asked to learn another or improve upon the current skill. By rushing the process we, as trainers and riders, often find ourselves having to back up and correct the skill later on. All the same, this is not to say that we cannot change how we are working on a skill. As with human athletes, all horses are different and may have more success attaining and solidifying a skill with a different approach. Romeo, for example, has been jumping a one stride 2’3″ vertical to vertical gymnastic for the last few weeks, each time showing some improvement. Over these weeks we have been adding and removing ground lines, placing poles and guide poles to see what set up he is the most successful in. As a rider and trainer it is important that we take these changes gradually, not adding or changing too much all at once, and taking a mental note of what works well and what does not. We are responsible for the success of these horses and they are depending on us to help guide them through new situations and learning days to come out the other side successful and more confident than they went in.
While it can often feel tedious and repetitive, that repetition is what solidifies the skills and training that we spend so much time and energy on, and in the end produces a successful mount.
On that note… off to another schooling session! Fingers crossed!