I was only home for a couple of days this time and so my time was rather limited. As I type, we are en route to Vancouver for the Olympics, where we will remain until March 1st. Just prior to returning home, we will be taking a look at a (likely) new mare!! I'll update after our viewing :)
I did have one evening with Link the dink, lucky me! Since it had been awhile since we had worked together and I could tell he had a lot of pent-up energy, I figured some groundwork would make for a good start to our session. I started out on the 12' line but soon progressed to the 22' doing both the figure-8 pattern (at the trot) and the serpentine pattern (also at the trot). We also did some extensions of the circling game (traveling circle, his maintaining a trot while spiraling in and out on the circle, etc) as well as most of the other games. I even got him to do some limited canter (and some wonderfully calm up/down transitions); after the first shot, he continuously picked up the correct lead to the right, including the 12' and 22' circle. He was actually quite high energy - whether because he finds it too slippery outside to run (and thus is excitable in the arena at the prospect of being able to run on the good footing) or because it is the time of year he would normally start training at the track, I am unsure. He did well but kept 'blowing the turns' at the figure-8 pattern at the trot on the 22' line, so eventually I just turned him loose in the arena so he could rid himself of some of that excess energy. He obviously wanted to run, so why not let him! At first he ran and ran and ran (some excellent collection in the small arena as he galloped full-out!!), but eventually he started slowing some, and when he was finally ready, he came in to me once more to play ;P He was pretty wet and hot by that time, so I tried to keep him down to some slower work. We completed the figure-8 and serpentine patterns at the trot on the 22' line, and called it quits there. I still wanted to ride though and felt it was ok, so bridled him up for at least a little under-saddle work. To be honest, our under-saddle work was not quite as successful. He tracked up a little and relaxed and stretched his frame most of the time, but he just did not have the impulsion necessary to do too much - he was too tired from all that running! We did a little leg yield, achieved some absolutely fantastic shoulder-in and shoulder-out (it really clicked for me how to ask him properly, so he gave me quite the shoulder-in's in particular!!), and called it a day after some lengthy cooling out. I found he was very very stiff to his left, with virtually no improvement no matter what I tried. Not sure what was going on there!! I will be home more come mid-March (at the latest), so by then I can start working with him regularly and get him where I want him. I really think (provided I can manage it financially) we can compete successfully at Training Level this year, which would represent quite the success for us!
I did not have the time to do too much with him, but I wanted to try out how he was with his feet and see if we could make any progress in that area (as last time he was quite defensive about his feet). To my surprise, after working with him a little (just lots of rubbing and appropriate body language), at liberty (no halter, just in a large paddock), he picked up and held all four feet for me - including his hinds! No problems, provided I took it slow and kept him relaxed. With his hinds, I even held them quietly and gently rubbed his raised leg until he relaxed more in my grip. I was so proud of him! I was happy too that I was able to do all this leaning/bending work without any harm to my back - it was not sore whatsoever, surprisingly (yay!), whereas usually I have a difficult time even straightening up after lifting a horse's hooves. At one point, I stood at his neck, arm over his back, chatting with the owner of the place, and felt something in my back. I turned around and there was Cody, sniffing and prodding my back lightly! Progress for him for sure. I was very proud of the effort he made and for choosing to work with me. I finished and walked away after quietly and gently stroking both his cheeks some (something he seems to enjoy), with his even following me to the gate :)
Has gone out on a 15 day trial for a (min 3 month) lease to a 13yo (I think it is) girl who wants to do some jumping (once he is in condition) on him! I believe she is currently jumping approx. 2'6. The only 'concern' was that Koolaid might not have enough impulsion for the girl, but he is certainly safe and quiet enough. I assured them that if they worked with him correctly (I provided a few tips), that he would have plenty of impulsion, and that he loved jumping and so would be great in that area (plenty of impulsion, lots of scope and athleticism, etc). I think the coach they brought along was not overly impressed (though of course not disappointed, just not 'wowed') by him, and with reason of course - he's got his winter coat on and is by far not in any sort of riding condition, really. I think they'll be surprised and impressed at how he works and moves once he is in condition. He is very athletic and bold to the fences - don't be fooled by his small 15.2hh size!! I think many under-estimate him due to his small stature as well, however whenever I've had him in condition and actually jumping, I've received nothing but impressed compliments and sale offers. He'll be safe and a great confidence builder for this girl, but he'll also have the athleticism and ability to continue to do quite well. I am looking forward to Koolaid doing well under someone (hopefully this girl), since I know he can!!!
I was hoping I would be able to move him to where Link and Sonny are, however I do not think I will have the financial means to do so, what with everything else going on, so I am still looking for a lessee for him. I've got a couple of interested individuals, so we'll see what pans out! He's a bit harder to find a rider for than Koolaid since he is so high energy and sensitive (really, your typical Arabian). I only want to lease him out this year though, since next year I should easily be able to afford to work with him myself (time permitting!) and I miss working with my boy!!
Continues to do very well under his riders. He is being ridden 3x per week minimum, with once-per-week lessons with my own coach, under two of the riders. The third rider is not getting much time in on him, however I've continued to leave the offer open for her to ride him whenever she is able to. I am very pleased with how Sonny is doing though under the two intermediate/beginning riders, especially for a 6yo OTTB!!!!!
Otherwise I think that is about it!! I will update more once I return in March, particularly as the horses progress (I should be working with them essentially full-time by mid-March at the latest). I'll publish info on the (hopefully *new*) mare by that time as well! March I am hoping to invest my time fully into Link and by April I will add Cody onto my schedule. I also have two horses lined up for training (deposits down) come April first, one over May as well (60 days), so I should be busy this season :)