Navigator's Progress - Page 19 - The Horse Forum
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post #181 of 205 Old 01-05-2017, 02:31 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the kind comments!

Since it's a new year and almost one year on this journal, I thought I'd take a minute to reflect on the past year and Nav's progress.

I started this journal with the intention of keeping better records of what I accomplished with Nav, and how he's improving. He's a bit of a tough horse to ride, at least for me, and a little green, and I just really wanted to keep track of the goods so I didn't focus on our bads. I think this journal has been really helpful in that aspect. I realize I never set a super specific goal, and mostly just wanted to "get better" in general, and I think we have.

Nav has gotten much stronger and is able to carry himself much nicer than he did a year ago. He's become softer in the mouth and more sensitive to my leg and seat. He's also become much less spooky (though he still is a bit looky!). We went to our first show together and did extraordinarily well - so much better than I expected, in both performance and behavior in a show setting. We had a few lessons and are in the process of trying to continue that more regularly. Nav has become such a gentle and steady horse that my good friend was able to regain riding confidence on him and canter for the first time in years with him.

There was that setback with basically two months lost due to whiteline, and I so wish I hadn't lost that time to work him. But I am meticulous with his hooves now and they are stronger and sturdier than they've been in a long time. (pictures of the back left to compare: late summer to mid December. Still some things to work on but so much better!)


And another comparison, first ride of 2016:


Versus final (documented, in mid November) ride of 2016:


No, not the same moment of canter, but I feel like he's definitely lifting more and carrying himself better than in the first one.

It was a good year, but I think 2017 will be even better. I'm hoping to start regular (monthly at least) lessons, and go to a couple more dressage shows at least! Can't wait to see what happens!
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post #182 of 205 Old 01-08-2017, 05:17 PM Thread Starter
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First ride of 2017!!

Today I went out to see Nav and have our first ride of the new year! It was a bit cold, just above freezing, but the sun was out and I bundled up. It was so good to see my pony!

We did a pretty short ride in the big field. Nav was super fresh. I should have expected it all, after over a week of no riding. Overall the ride was alright, with some bad at the end where our bend went out the window. It felt worse than it looked though, when I watched the footage.

Mostly just did some trot and canter work. His bending was much better for the most part, and even at the canter to the left he transitioned easily and didn't lose the bend much. Still need to get stronger but it will happen. I'll just post the video. Unfortunately it is a bit blurry (darn auto-focus), and not super close but I think it's a good representation of the ride.

0.00-2.25 - initial trot work
2.30-4.50 - canter work, starting with a nice left lead canter
4.50-end - more trot and I think a bit of canter, with more contact

(mute if you don't want music!)

Overall pretty happy with the first ride of the year. Hopefully we will just get better from here! I have a lesson tentatively scheduled for Tuesday so I think that will be good for us. :)

Last edited by NavigatorsMom; 01-08-2017 at 05:22 PM.
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post #183 of 205 Old 01-10-2017, 12:00 PM Thread Starter
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Yesterday we had a dentist come out to work on all of the horses. Not necessarily a fun day for them but it needed to be done. Nav was pretty overdue and I'm wondering if his teeth were causing part of his undersaddle issues? Probably unlikely but it will be interesting to see how he goes today.

In other news, we have a lesson today! With a woman I used to take lessons from about 2 or 3 years ago. Nav and I improved a lot with her and I'm excited to see what her take is on our bending problem. Hopefully she will ride him a bit so I can see how he does for someone other than me.
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post #184 of 205 Old 01-11-2017, 03:29 PM Thread Starter
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So, lesson went really well!! I really like her teaching and I am sad that this was kind of a one time thing, but we got a lot figured out and I have something concrete to work on now.

First thing she did after I explained what I've been working on, was check Nav from behind and right away she noticed that his left hindquarter is less developed than right. Our hypothesis is that since he was off on the right front with white line, his left hind became weak too (since horses work in diagonals, and he was likely favoring those two and putting most weight on front left/back right). He hasn't been tracking up with the left hind and his left hip was a bit sticky. She suggested a chiropractor who could take a look at him, so I'm considering that. Really though, (and these were her words too) it seems to be an issue of muscle development. Once he gets back to working the left hind that muscle will develop and he'll become straighter.

Apparently also it's not that he's not bending to the left, it's that he's not straight. She described it as if for him "straight" is more like a normal horse's shoulder in left. And that's what feels normal to me, so it will take some time to get used to a true straight. Once he strengthens that left hind and becomes straighter the bending should work itself out. He is very supple in the poll and shoulders too, in spite of how broad he is.

So now that we figured out what the problem is, she got to work giving me a bunch of exercises to use.

The first thing she had me doing was a haunches in to the left. This is hard work for him since he hasn't been using that hind, and he wanted to fall out onto his shoulder. She had me going just a couple steps at a time and then letting him rest. The other exercise was a shoulder in to the right. Again, pushing the left hind out and making him put more weight onto it and use it more.

Another exercise we did with cones in a square, though later she told me to do it with a triangle for more of a turn. I started by walking along one side of the square circle. When we got to a cone, did a turn on the forehand (to move the hinds and supple it) and then continue. Eventually we did this at the trot as well. Then change direction and do it again, but with a turn on the haunches instead, to keep him thinking. I'll insert a clip of that here. No music this time, so you can hear my instructor's commentary, though I don't think she said too much. We have a little bit of right canter in it, and while it's not bad, I know it will be better when he is stronger and able to push off with the left hind better.


The other exercise we did was called the Snowman. It was a twenty meter circle and at the end of it, change direction and do a ten meter circle. The goal was to keep him from falling onto his shoulder, and also pushing the left hind out. That was the main goal of all of the exercises, just getting the left hind to work.

By the end he was tracking up and over with his left hind and was much more loose in the back!

One other thing we talked about was how smart Nav is. He begins to anticipate so she showed me ways to change up those exercises. When he begins to rush instead of move away from my leg I need to either half halt and slow him, or come down a gait. And when he gets grabby and heavy on my hands I need to ignore it, keep my hands light and forward so he has nothing to bear down on, and get him working. He knows that getting heavy is easy for him and that if he fights me there then I'll ignore his hind end - which is exactly what I need to be focusing on!

I'm so thankful I was able to have this lesson. While I won't be able to do any more with her, she did mention to me some clinics coming up and said I should come and audit since that's free (which is my price range, haha). So I'm looking into going to one in a couple weeks.
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post #185 of 205 Old 01-11-2017, 04:08 PM
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that's great! Isn't it exciting to have a good lesson?

in the video, I get the feeling that Nav is favoring his hind left. just 'whiff' of offness.
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post #186 of 205 Old 01-13-2017, 02:50 PM Thread Starter
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@tinyliny , I wish I had your eyes! I'm not able to see the offness you're seeing, but I suspect that if he was favoring it at all, it would be because we were at the end of a long lesson where he had been using it much more than normal and might have had some soreness? I haven't ridden since then (been stuck at home with an awful cold) but I'll try to see if he's stiff or anything when I ride again.
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post #187 of 205 Old 01-13-2017, 02:55 PM
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well, I am such a worry wort, I think maybe I see things that are not there. so, don't worry. I am probably just 'seeing things'.
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post #188 of 205 Old 01-17-2017, 05:11 PM Thread Starter
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Well, unfortunately after my amazing lesson I spent the rest of the week getting over a bad cold, and wasn't able to ride again until yesterday! And yesterday of course, I only had a small window of time to ride. I made it out there though and we had a really good ride!

We did basically the entire ride at walk, since that's the easiest gait to do those exercises I learned at the lesson, and I had some really nice moments with Nav. We did a ton with the haunches in to the left, and some shoulder in right to get him working the left hind, and then a lot of turns on the forehand. He did wonderfully! Kept wanting to trot, but I expected that.

It was a short ride but it was good. I feel much more confident having these exercises to use with Nav.
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post #189 of 205 Old 01-21-2017, 07:23 PM Thread Starter
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I think I had one ride in between this one and the last but I forgot to write about it.

Anyway, today I got Nav a new bit. The same as what I had been using, a loose ring French link snaffle, but in six inches, as recommended by my instructor at my lesson. Hard to find a bit that big! Used it today when I rode and Nav seemed fine with it, though the mouthpiece is a bit thicker and this one is "sweet copper" instead of just steel or whatever the old one is. He was good about accepting contact with it and didn't seem like it was a problem. Since it's a bit thicker it is probably even softer than the old one!

I didn't want to do much today, so I just took Nav on a long (for us!) trail ride. Just about two miles, along roads and bike trails near us. I did have him working on some of the haunches in left/shoulder in right at the same time, so it wasn't a complete break, but it was a lot less than I typically do. It was just nice to go out and relax and not think too much. In spite of the wind an not having done this trail in a long time Nav was pretty calm, so I am happy with him. :)
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post #190 of 205 Old 01-30-2017, 06:21 PM Thread Starter
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Bit of a break from writing. I didn't do much riding in that span though, I think all I did was a bareback hack one afternoon.

Yesterday I went with the woman I had a lesson with up to a dressage clinic hosted by the dressage club that I'm planning to get involved with. It was a really good time! The instructor is semi-local (I think), she does clinics pretty regularly at the farm we went to yesterday, but also travels between a few other states nearby. She was a bit intense but seemed very knowledgeable. The big thing she focused on was straightness, which is the base of the "training pyramid" so a good starting point, and it was interesting to see how she worked on similar things with such a wide range of rider abilities. I didn't ride, but it was good to watch and I think I will ride in one if I save up some money and have someone to haul me. My friend I went with was very generous and offered to haul for me to any of the club events she's going to, and I think I'll take her up on that! I also have a potential regular lesson instructor lined up, so fingers crossed that that will work. Yesterday was a good day for networking. :)

Today I went out to ride and was very motivated to make it a good ride after yesterday's clinic. I haven't had a real working ride in a while, so I wanted to make some good progress. Beginning of our ride in the arena went really well. I used an exercise that I got at my lesson a couple weeks ago but also saw in action at the clinic yesterday. After a bit of warm up, at the trot whenever Nav would speed up and get hollow, I circled him on about a 10 meter circle. After a few minutes Nav really settled and loosened up and had some nice round trot. It was harder to get him going left, but he did it eventually. Then I did a bit of work on haunches in and shoulder in to get the left hind working, and we ended with a turn on the forehand exercise.

I thought we had a nice ride so I headed back to Nav's pasture. We follow a road to get to his pasture and at one point, on the opposite side of the road, there is a field that sometimes has cows. This is where things got extremely frustrating. When we got within sight of the field Nav became super tense, neck up, trying to spin. He has always been afraid of cows, but there weren't any there and he was fine walking up at the beginning of the ride so I'm not sure what triggered this. I tried getting him to flex, leg yield, turn on the forehand, anything to get him focused on me but while he was responding hyper-sensitively, he was not relaxed and was still trying to stare at the field. This is all happening near a road so I was trying to not let him get too excited. I got off at one point and walked him back and forth along our side but he still didn't really settle. I got back on and walked him some more, he was not relaxed at all and kept trying to trot, which I responded to by halting him and making him stand. He kept letting out huge sighs/snorts, not the relaxing calm kind. When we were a bit past it in a field within sight of the cow field I did some trot work with lots of circles to try to get him focused but he just kept trying to run. It was so frustrating, I just gave up and took him back to his pasture.

I'm not sure why he acted like this today. It almost seemed like he was looking for something to spook at. Cow related spooks aren't the same as normal looky behavior for him though. If he's scared of something, like a sign blowing or something, if I ignore it he typically calms down, but with cows, no matter how much I ignore it he panics. I want to fix this but I have no idea how. Anyway, this led to a very frustrating end of ride, which was discouraging after all the good he did earlier. :(
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