I rode the big fella this weekend.
He has been very obliging so far: I have been working him in the round yard, getting him to respect my space on the ground and teaching him that turning his butt to me, even when he wants to go back to his mates, is not acceptable.
Got that – I’m beginning to suspect that he’s not very bright, but he got that part down. I use John O’Leary’s methods for remouthing our horses, which is pretty foolproof and makes them very light, a important part of making sure you can execute a one rein stop when you need to. It means when you get on you can d put their heads here:
Nowhere to go from there, should things go pear shaped, except round in a circle.
Anyway – he was being VERY respectful on the ground, no bucking (or even humping up) under saddle, no reaction to stirrups flapping and thumping (not surprising given that he is an off the track Standardbred – after harness, hopples and headchecks, a saddle is no biggie!). I was officially out of excuses, so on Saturday I found the mounting block and after a few false starts, got on. And got – nothing:
Mac’s default reaction to anything confusing is to stop. Which is a GOOD thing, really. But he has NO idea what leg aids are and was clearly thoroughly bemused by having a rider up there. “Walk on” did nothing. Slapping his flanks with my hand got nothing (this often works on an Australian pacer, as they often will flap the reins against the flank as they ask them to walk on in the sulky).
In the end I was forced to get my daughter to lead him forward and then gradually move away.. We got a few rather uncertain steps and called it a day.
I am happy to report that on Sunday we did much better. Forward motion was fairly consistent and we even got to practice a few one rein stops (you must always TRAIN the horse from walk upwards to accept the one rein stop – it’s no good trying to use it first time up at a flat gallop!). I felt safe enough to open the round yard gate and ride him back to the shed (all of 50 metres, but it’s a start).
It will be a LONG time before he and I attempt a trot – he has HUGE movement and we will need to have a lot more confidence in each other before we try that. Not to mention that my 12 metre round yard is probably not the best place to try trotting on a 16hh horse! The first trot will probably be up a nearby hill.
Next up, a walk round the block with steady reliable company.
We’re still friends, anyway:
The rest of the weekend was very hairy:
Angel got an Irish clip: she managed to stay clean for all of 48 hours.
And Savannah a trace clip:
Faith remains feral and hairy: She’s growing well and is VERY cheeky. Weaning happens sometime in the next month.
Yesterday afternoon we went for a nice 15km about 9 1/2 miles) ride – the girls rode their ponies and I ended up taking Joe as Prycie came out of the paddock lame. He has probably done something stupid being paddock boss, but this is the third time he has had a lameness in the same leg. I think his race career and crappy movement are starting to catch up with him, sadly.
So I rode Joe for the first time since the 160km three weeks ago.. He was feeling – ahem – quite well!
The girls and I are doing a 20km LD ride next weekend. I will now be taking Joe – I hope he behaves…