So it has almost been a full 3 months that I have had Oliver at "Home" meaning a a lot closer to where I live in my case. I have him on Vashon island and I live 5 minutes from the ferry in Seattle and have been able to commit 4 days a week to him, that alone feels amazing! He has really progressed in the last three months mentally and physically. When bring him here he was underweight, not motivated to be work, not enjoying his work and I was worried about him in both mental and physical aspects from going through a rough time with the last trainer. Don't get me wrong we had fun and learned things but it wasn't what we both needed and we had a lot of things skipped over that really needed to be addressed, worked on and move on from. This trainer just threw him over fence after fence after he came back from a scary bout of pneumonia. I got into bad habits as well and am now working those kinks out to help him along.
So in the last three months we have accomplished and are continuing working on the fallowing:
*Back to lunging before riding to start from the ground with no "argument of my hands" and to send him forward into the contact of the bridle. We have just started adding canter to this and he is going with it very well, he is much more balanced and I can affectivly use a half halt to rebalance him and then send him forward again all through the canter and his trot is better after the canter.
*Started cross training, getting him out of the arena and out on the trails! Doing hill work and group work. He really likes this and its very relaxing and rewarding for both of us!
*In my coaching sessions we are going back to getting my arms to flow with his movement, at what ever gait he is at. To stretch my legs down and ride him up through his hind end into my hands and stay forward without me pulling.
*Staying fluid with change of bends and through transitions.
*Keeping our workouts very positive and a happy place for him and I
WIth all of this in the last three months I feel like such a better horse owner, and rider. More committed, able and finding it very rewarding and that I am doing the work correctly as it shows in my coaching sessions as well as when I help my best friend out. What I find works for Oliver and I works is parts for my friend and her gelding and that in itself is extremely positive and rewarding to me!
This last week in watching a couple lessons of friends I know (all at different levels) and different instructors, I have found that its so much getting your brain to release and relax for your body parts to do what you tell them. Giving up the control and letting your horse hold himself/herself and letting the mistake to happen is so hard!!! You want to hold them and do it for them but then you aren't riding correctly or helping them at all and its the telling myself over and over to just not pull the inside hand/arm and to trust him and allow the mistake to happen....its all I can do to scream.
Today I did it I allowed myself to go with him, we had impulsion through our transitions, we had the most amazing trot work at the end of our session that I was almost in tears. I figured out my half halts for our corners to prepare, re balance and sustain the forwrad realxed trot out of the corner and onto the long side that helped me ride him straight through his hind end and up through into my soft hands.
Today was one of those day where all the hard work payed off, showed me it was worth it. Showed me my little horse had really taken also from all that we have been doing and he has showed me that he enjoys it, that he understands we are working to make it a happy working place for him..and I. That feeling of having him right there....for 10 minutes today at the end was all I needed to remind myself of what a great horse I have. How big his heart is and open he is to learn all this and thrive off the positive reward and pretty much be a completely different mentally and physically (and for the better) horse.
I know we have a very long road ahead of us still but the foundation work, the trust and the enjoyment of our rides has grown from a small seed into a flower. (corny I know but that's all I could think of right now while in my overjoyed spirit's...yes I am a complete dork.
I can't wait for the upcoming dressage clinic next week. It will only open more doors, give us more to work on, give me new insight and understand to learn from and use. I feel so empowered tonight.
Here are some "before and after pictures" of our long journey, These pictures date further back then three months.
Thanks for reading this whole thing!! I look forward to sharing more inspiring motivational rides like today's.
This picture here is from before I bought (got given) him :) What a stunner!