Wish I could give you mine guys :( Brock moved from that into a mullen mouth eggbutt which he prefers, so I've got a spare sitting round. It cost me about $50 which is pretty standard for a half-decent bit here.
So we checked out the mare today! She seemed reasonably nice from the ground, although the owner had already caught her for us. Oh well. Brushed her, moved her around a bit - good manners overall, but testing a lot. Reasonable hooves, although there should be some trimming done. Checked her back for - soreness - none, checked her legs for scars and injuries - nothing on touch. Then the owner admitted that the mare had a ligament torn in one of her hocks 4 years ago, but healed nicely, supposedly never had a limp in her life after the rest. Uh-oh... Well, I still tacked her up (the saddle was too narrow and the owner did incorrect adjusting with a thick fleece saddle pad) and she stood nicely for saddling. Didn't want to accept the bit, though, and asked the owner to do it - appears the mare has her head to be held down with one arm over her nose to do it, otherwise she won't let it happen. Teeth have been recently floated, but not by a vet who does that good, though.
The owner rode her first. Seemed fine at walk, then, at trot, I noticed that, although there was no limpness, the leg with the past injury seemed to get suspended more in the air and being weirdly rotated in the hip. There was some asymmetry in her gait and she carried her tail a bit crooked. I still got on, walked, trotted, cantered a bit. The mare was opinionated, yet willing to cooperate, with very energetic movement and flowing gaits - yet she protested on transitioning to canter on her supposedly injured side, trying to offer choppy, nervous trot instantly and leaning on the bit. So my decision was that, albeit the mare was sweet and I enjoyed her gaits, she was not "The One" for the teenage girl I'm horse-shopping for. Luckily, the girl agreed - she didn't feel that she should stay with this mare either. I hope she finds a good and kind owner to give her the rest she deserves.
It also seemed weird that, although she's on free choice hay, a scoop of oats, a decent amount of alfalfa and carrots every day, she was still quite thin - not skinny, but could use some weight. I'd have a serious look at her teeth first thing if I was her owner.
Hey Saranda, I have a question for you! I want to do some ground work training with my miss Hunny and wonder how you are able to move into teaching your horse so many things from the ground. What did you teach first and how did you move up in the levels? I won't be able to ride until about September and want to make the best of my time by doing a loooot of good ground work with her so when I get back on it's like I never left or like she is even more experienced. I can free lunge her fairly well in an indoor arena as long as it's only me in there, but besides working on turns, reversing directions, whoah-ing, and going from walk to fox-trot, and having her come to me I honestly don't know how to do much more!
I want to teach her to collect from the ground so I can greatly improve her gaits, but haven't the slightest clue on how to do this. I also want to be able to engage her mind very well so when I do work with her I can remember that she is actually learning something. Also having it be a little physically challenging for her would be good since I am not riding her and she is a bit of a firecracker right now :) gotta love my blonde bombshell!
That's a tough question, cowgirl! Mainly because there's SO much to do!
First, you should set up the basic rules - a good foundation system can help, for example, the parelli lvl1 or something alike, that explains to the horse how you ask direct and indirect yielding, in order to perform circling, backing up, accepting different kinds of pressure, etc. That shouldn't take you longer than a week or couple of them, so that the horse doesn't get bored. Also, you have to learn to use precise body language and focus on using your energy and body more than any tack. A good comprehension for both the handler and the horse about what is personal space is also a must.
We move up from there just as in riding - in order to achieve collection one day, we first have to work on rythm, balance, contact. Also, the horse has to trust the handler completely and be relaxed and willing to do things with the human.
I like to start with the simplest things. Spending time in the pastures and doing nothing, observing the horses and waiting, until my horse comes to me. Then I offer following me around, offer the halter to be put on (and respect it, if the horse shows that he doesn't want all of that the particular day!), do some leading and go for long in-hand walks down the trails, in which we work on/"talk about" being light to the pressure of the halter and respecting each others' space, myself being focused so that he is interested to follow me and we then graze where I show it's to be done - just as a lead mare would do. The result should be effortless walks, in which the horse stays light, happy, focused on me, ready to go over any obstacles. There we can also do in-hand trotting hillwork, stretching long and low in trot, doing walk-halt, trot-walk , trot-halt-trot transitions, sidepassing over logs, climbing with forelegs on treestumps, flexing neck, arching back, backing up, lunging with encouraging to use the hind legs more, and doing other exercises that support the suppleness of the horse and that prepare him for the collection. I always suggest, not command, and I try to make everything short, fun and sweet, so that the horse feels rewarded even by just being given the chance to do something with me! In the arena, we can do cavaletti work, the Spanish walk (to encourage good shoulder action), etc., and also ground driving is a very good thought, as it can help with working on light contact, straightness, flexing and more. Also, I always remember to spend as much or more undemanding time with the horse, as I spend in doing something with him.
Overall, the collection cannot be taught, imo. We can help their bodies and minds to evolve, we can support their energy, personality and pride, and then, one day, the collection starts coming naturally, as a result of the horse being fit and ready enough to present it to us.
Being a larger, slow growing horse, who is inclined to be on the front and lacking impulsion from the back, this is what he is offering me now. Still work in progress, of course -
I would highly suggest that you do some reading for inspiration. This is what has greatly helped me in the way and given me some valuable ideas on precise exercises or techniques -
Got some nice news to share! The friend who was searching for a horse for her daughter hasn't found one yet...but she did find one for herself! It's a 4yo, very green Latvian Warmblood mare, who was being sold by gypsies, which is usually bad news around here. But, surprisingly, she was extremely nice and willing, and the vet just gave the green lights - she's also completely healthy. I got to test-ride her, and she's got the nicest trot, although she is quite flighty and nervous still. No canter under rider yet, and lots and lots of groundwork will be needed, but she is still super nice, and - guess what! It turns out Snickers is her uncle! The best part still is that I get to train her groundwork and ride her with the help of a trainer until my friend is ready to handle her herself, learning on older and calmer horses in the meantime.
I am at a point in my partnership with my new gelding, Jax (2 months!), where he is just making me incredibly happy as he starts to really trust and listen! At a trail obstacle course the other day, we made a lot of progress and learned how to move just one foot at a time (eg. To stand on a platform with his fore)... pics below! Yesterday on a whim, I had him yielding his fore, hind and sidepassing even though it's not something he has done a lot in the past... today (I have had a few spooky issues with him and so we have spent sooo much time over the past 2 weeks trust-building) I went on a trail with a barnmate whose horse is oodles more "bombproof" than Jax, and while my barnmate's horse spooked multiple times, Jax didn't bat an eye!!
We are doing so well together that my heart sings every time I think about going to the barn.
I ordered and am starting to receive my endurance tack-- we ordered a biothane bridle & reins and a synthetic saddle and Toklat pad. The biothane tack came in from Taylored Tack and oh my GOODNESS I love it!! (sneak peak below...) The few pictures I snapped simply don't do the color justice. It is so darn flashy and fun. I had a small issue-- the throatlatch was too small, and Amanda was kind enough to mail me a larger one at no cost. She is truly wonderful to work with!
When I purchased Jax, he had a problem with one of his hind legs in that it was stiff to pick up (pulling it up and in towards his body), but didn't appear to affect his stride and he wasn't at all hind lame, as per a vet. He wasn't on supplements, vit/min, etc... so I set him up on a regimen that included some joint support and he is improving by the day! He is a little stiffer the day after a tough ride, but I think that he is on the up-and-up. My fingers are crossed that between the recent addition of Hyaluronex and chiropractic work, he will be 100% for more rigorous endurance conditioning.