Fruehling is a 5 year old, chestnut, 16.2hh, Hanoverian (1/4 TB, 3/4 hano) mare. She is my coach's horse, and I've been working with her. I've known her since she was born (watched the birth), and her mother was my old horse. I hope to buy her some time next year when I'm able to afford a horse, if she hasn't sold by then. She is a little hot, very alert, which is the opposite of the last horse I started. Like her mother, she is a little bossy, but is confident and personable.
I did a little ground work and saddled horse last year when she was 4, but other than that has had very little handling other than basic leading and hoof handling manners. This was partially because I was working full time+ when I was home, and then rest of the year I was away at school. Her owner (my coach/trainer) had a lot of client horses last summer, and didn't have time for her.
When I got back home this spring I started work with her. Did 3-4 days a week, and about 3 weeks of ground work, lunging, introducing tack, side reins, bridle, ground driving, and a rider on her back. Our series of rides looks something like this:
Ride 1: Me sitting up there, my coach leading us around. Getting on and off a couple times. No participation from me.
Ride 2: No lead attatched to her bit, just me steering and stopping. But we're still following my coach basically. I started using leg to ask her to go forward but she doesn't respond to it yet.
Ride 3: Small progress, went forward off my leg aid and me clicking a couple times. Stops and turns from my aids. Got a friend to lunge me. Still mostly listens to person on the ground.
Ride 4: Tried to get her to go on my own, not happening. Got lunged more, starting to really understand the aid on the lunge line. Walked around the arena on our own, but got stuck a couple times until my friend on the ground made a feeble motion towards us for us to move.
Ride 5: Decided to try a crop to help make the connection between lunging aids and rider aids. Needed help getting going, but the rest of the ride was a big improvement. Worked better when I used to the whip behind my leg than on the shoulder. My coach was on the ground and we circled around her and trotted a few steps. Hoping for now that we've trotted, forward will come more easily.
Ride 6: Brought a dressage whip. Had our first 100% solo ride!! Backed up when we tried to leave the mounting block, but then went forward after a little tap of the whip. Trotted solo down the long sides of the arena, and changed direction across the diagonal, walking before reaching the corner. She trot-walk transitions really nicely, same with the halt, it almost feels like a little reining stop because she tuck her hind end under.
Ride 7: Trotted more today. She tested the whip more today, had to use it more, but over all was more responsive to the leg by the end of the ride. Stops nicely with the word woah and sitting deep. Went around the arena, changed directions across the the diagonal and did 20m circles both ways. Steering, which was actually quite good to start with, is better.
Ride 8: More trotting. Moves just off leg now. Though I'm still carrying a whip, I only had to use it once at the very start of the ride. Practised transitions within the gait. While trotting down the longs side asked for a bigger trot and she popped into canter. It was a slow relaxed canter, so I let her canter about 4 steps before verbally cueing trot and going back to trot. Went the other direction and did the same thing (asked for a big trot, let her canter) but cantered further down the long side and through the corner.
Ride 9: The day before she went for her first trailer ride! A friend had a lesson down at our show grounds, so I trailered us down, and let Fruehling look around at every thing. She way bright eyed and bushy tailed but behaved pretty well and only whinnied half heartedly <a dozen times (over almost 2 hours) even though there were a lot of other horses there and a couple would not stop calling to each other. Just lead her around, didn't ride.
The ride was not one of our bests starting out. She was not as cheerful to see me as usual, and was a little more spooky of things around her, just more keyed up in general. While we were trotting a group of riders came out of the bushes near-ish the arena from a trail ride, and she was quite spooky, but still responsive. Put her back to work and she paid attention to me without much effort on my part, and continued. On the ground before I practised moving her hind end over. Got her moving her hind end over, but most of the time she just moved straight sideways which is really nice too!! Did leg yield once at a walk both ways. Worked on some circles too and yielding to the bit and she was really good about softening it ratherthan fighting it. She didn't flip her head at all when I put on pressure, rather slowed down, did nothing, or yielded to the pressure. Very happy with her :)
That brings us up to date, planning on going riding tomorrow! Pictures to come.