Navigator's Progress - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 267 Old 01-12-2016, 10:13 PM Thread Starter
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Navigator's Progress

I thought keeping a journal of what I work on with Nav would be a good way to track our progress and keep in mind that even if we have bad rides, we also have a lot of good going for us. So here we go!

Started our work today by lunging in sidereins. This is something I used to do more frequently last fall/winter, but stopped in the summer. I felt it really helped Navigator figure out how to carry himself so decided to start it up again as a supplement to our riding.

He did very well, reaching forward and pushing from behind. We didn't do too much because I didn't want to tire him out when I was going to ride. During the ride he was very attentive (aside from a small buck when he got excited about seeing the barn cat - he loves cats, silly horse!) and pretty soft, though he did get heavy at times. The main thing I'm working on with him is getting him to carry more weight on his hind end and not lean and pull into the bit.

We did some trot poles and he finally figured out how to place his feet, which was a nice small accomplishment. Afterward I had two very clear moments of trot during which he was definitely lifting his back and had his weight shifted back, and so we ended on that note. I was so happy with him though! It's always hard since we don't take lessons or have a trainer, so I have to do a lot of self-teaching and self-evaluation (when I can get someone to come out and record me). Things are a little slow going but at least they are going forward!

I think for next ride I will again do a bit with the sidereins, and then work on our turns on the haunches to shift his weight back.
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post #2 of 267 Old 01-12-2016, 10:18 PM Thread Starter
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Also wanted to share this picture. Not from today's ride, but just a couple days ago.

It's not perfect but look at that back leg reaching forward! Good pony!

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post #3 of 267 Old 01-14-2016, 10:57 PM Thread Starter
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Had an ok ride yesterday.

Once again, started off by lunging a little with the sidereins. Before attaching them I had him go around a couple times just to stretch out. He was so goofy, trying to look around at other things to the outside of our circle! It was a little frustrating to get him to focus on me. It's not like he doesn't listen. He responds very well to vocal cues and I rarely have to use the whip or line to get his attention, but I don't want him looking to the outside. It's counterproductive. Anyway, he settled some when I attached the sidereins and really moved for me. But still wanted to look to the outside at any little thing. :/

After that I got on for a short ride, since I had worked him pretty hard. Took him through some walk-trot-walk-halt-etc. transitions and he was decent. I'm really trying to focus on keeping my elbows at my sides and really use my core. I've noticed that he responds well to that, but I just have to remember to do it. We also did the trot poles again, I think I need to set out more than three though. He's getting good at it, and I'm thinking about spacing them a little more apart to see if I can get him to lengthen his stride a bit.

Ended by doing some turn on the haunches work, which is difficult for him. Unless I position my legs and ask perfectly it usually doesn't work well. He tries to evade by doing turns on the forehand (which are super easy for him) or backing up or sidestepping. But when I cue him perfectly he responds pretty well. I am hoping to get him to a point when all it takes is a small adjustment and he'll do it.

Gave him the day off today since I figure he's pretty sore after the hard work we've been doing with sidereins and undersaddle, but hopefully I'll be able to go out tomorrow!
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post #4 of 267 Old 01-15-2016, 11:16 PM Thread Starter
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Today we kind of had an easy day. There was a lot of excitement with a loose pony when I was getting Nav ready, and since there were only two of us at the barn we had to go after him. He ran down the nearby bike path and then out into the road! He ended up in some of the woods near the road which is where I caught him. What an ordeal.

Anyway, after all of that I decided to take it easy with Nav. We took the long trail up to the arena, and then just did some trot-walk transitions and a little bit with turn on the haunches before doing a hilly trail behind the barn to work his back end and kind of take it easy. He did really well on the transitions! I really focused on keeping my elbows at my side and engaging core during the downward transitions and the difference was huge! I need to make sure to always pay attention to that until it's habit for me. Turns on the haunches not as great, I believe he's just being a little stubborn and lazy about it, as soon as I reinforced my leg with the whip he turned very smoothly. Pretty easy and good ride overall though. :)
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post #5 of 267 Old 01-18-2016, 12:15 AM Thread Starter
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Well, today was a yucky, cold and cloudy day, so no riding for Nav and I. It's been two days by now, and it's looking like tomorrow will be similar. :( I really hate dreary winter weather.

Classes start up again for me on Tuesday, but thankfully my schedule is very flexible and open, so I should be able to do day/afternoon rides on all days except Tuesday and any times I have evening grad assistant duties.

And just because, here's the most recent picture I have of my cutie boy, from a couple days ago when the weather was nicer :)

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post #6 of 267 Old 01-24-2016, 11:17 PM Thread Starter
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After a long week of awful, cold weather I finally got out to see and ride Nav yesterday!I was worried that he would be fresh after such a long break, and with the weather being so nice for a change, but he was very well behaved! We didn't do a long ride, I was not feeling 100%, but he did a pretty good job after warming up.

Nav is very easily distracted and there were a lot of other people at the barn working today so it was a good opportunity to work on getting him to focus on me. We did a lot of walk-trot-halt-trot-etc transitions to keep him thinking and not looking all around. He eventually did settle down and listen to me, and we had quite a few good moments of self carriage. He still isn't super strong and I know it will take a long time before he is able to do it for longer amounts of time, but I am so happy with the progress he is making. We ended our short ride with some turn on the haunches work - it is getting easier! - and a little trail ride. Being able to take him on a trail and trot him without him deciding to bear down on the bit and run is absolutely amazing. He is a completely different horse from a year ago, much lighter and just all around nicer to ride. :)

The rest of this week should be decent weather (40s and some 50s!) so I will hopefully be doing some more riding when my schedule allows for it.
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post #7 of 267 Old 01-31-2016, 11:03 PM Thread Starter
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Well, school got into full swing and I haven't had time to write here. Have had some time to ride though! :)

I've been working Nav about two times a week only, unfortunately, though I made it out four times this past week. I just have to really plan and make time to do it. We've still been doing a lot of trot work, poles, and transitions. I've also been lunging every now and then with the side reins.

Today was excellent though! First of all, weather was in the 60s, which is amazing for January. I started off by lunging Nav, with side reins, and we have finally worked up to the point of having a decent contact with them. He worked really well and was lifting and really reaching with his back legs. Only did about 20 minutes of lunging total, and then got on for a short ride. I could actually feel a difference in his movement immediately! He was definitely lifting his back, and was pretty good about giving to the reins and accepting the bit. And in an open field too! It was so great! I just trotted him around and did a little hill work but kept it pretty easy since I had already lunged.

Very happy with how things are going :)
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post #8 of 267 Old 02-04-2016, 03:57 PM Thread Starter
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Unfortunately it got cold here again, so I haven't ridden since my last post. It was sunny and a bit warmer (like 40) here today, so I went out and lunged Nav. Don't want to let him go too long without work.

Decent lunging session, started without side reins and really got him moving forward. A little too much forward though because when I tried to bring him down from trot to walk he just kept trotting! Very frustrating since he's normally great with voice cues.

I used my downward transition voice, did some gentle give and take on the line and even pulled the line in until he was doing a small circle around me. That's what it took for him to finally walk, and when I let him go out again he almost immediately wanted to trot again! I'm not really sure how I can go about fixing this.

Anyway, I put side reins on after a bit, and he moved pretty well. There was still some slack in the reins, but he's not going behind the vertical so I think I could put them up a hole next time and give him some more contact. Not sure they're doing much good when they're slack.

He's a frustrating horse to ride. When he's good, he's really really good! But when he has an off day he is just totally frustrating. He's smart, kind of pony-like, and knows what to do to get out of work.

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post #9 of 267 Old 02-08-2016, 07:13 PM Thread Starter
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Rode yesterday, lunged only the day before.

He really wanted to lean down into the bit for our transitions from trot to walk. I tried keeping my leg on and doing half halts and giving with my inside rein but he just kept reaching. It was very frustrating. He never really settled out of it, though it helped when I did a ton of walk halt transitions. He seemed to get it, all I had to do was sit deep, close my thighs and barely take up the outside rein and he would halt. I noticed he does it better to the left (when my right hand is outside). I wonder if this is because I am crooked? I had a harder time cuing him properly going directionally right.

Anyway, his transitions got better, but when I brought him back to trot walk it wasn't as good. Better than before so I suppose I should think of that as a positive.

I did get some very nice walk-canter transitions though! This is something he has never been great at - probably in part due to is draftiness and heaviness on the forehand - but he did so well! It felt like he just stepped into it, instead of having any kind of run or rush around like he used to. Now, there were a couple of times when he did just try to run into a trot and then canter but I was able to bring him back down right away and get it better the second time. And when he would go into it it would be such a nice uphill round canter! I'll have to see if I can get someone to record next time we work on it, because I would love to see if he looks as good as he feels, or if he's faking it. :P

He was overall super spooky during the ride though and I could have done without that. I think he was looking for things to be afraid of! But I tried to just force him through it and we ended up with some good results in the arena. Even on our ride back to his field though he kept looking around. I guess it was just because it was pretty windy.

Today was very cold and gusty, so no riding this time. The week is supposed to warm up though so I should be able to get more rides in soon. :)
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post #10 of 267 Old 02-15-2016, 11:36 PM Thread Starter
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Well today felt like 100 steps backward. :(

Nav was just not listening to me. The whole way up to the barn he had his head high up and was just looking for things to be spooky about. Then once we got to the arena he settled a little bit, but refused to bend.

We didn't get a single walk to canter transition and the major extent of our cantering involved Nav bearing down as much as he could. I kept my elbows to my sides but felt awful putting such pressure on his mouth.

At the end I got an ok canter out both directions with an ok downward transition, but I am just not happy about how today went. :( We worked for an hour and it felt like it was completely pointless.

Can't ride tomorrow because it's my long day. Maybe I'll get another chance on Wednesday.
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