Saturday, May 14, 2011

A summer of potential

So, it's been almost 4 months now since I last blogged here. This is mostly due to the fact that I was working on the road a lot - 3 weeks a month, and thus it was difficult to accomplish much, if anything, with the horses, let alone find the time! I've been doing a lot of work on me personally as well and am learning, growing, and accomplishing much. While our work was supposed to run out (break-up in the oilfield) in March, it was instead extended and we have been working through since last June. Furthermore, it looks like we will be working through next spring (break-up) also. Currently I am working a 2-2 schedule (2 weeks out, 2 weeks at home) and while this still hampers my work with the horses, it is a necessary evil at this point and still allows me sufficient time at home with the horses to accomplish some goals this year. My hope is that, after having gained some ground financially this year and especially this winter/next spring, that I can 'retire' and find work elsewhere that allows me more time at home with the horses. Ultimately, I have my eye on a specific Master's degree but am content on taking a few years to achieve said goal. In the mean time, I am trying to balance work and personal life with accomplishing what I need to with the horses! I've made good strides toward such a balance thus far however and intend on continuing along this path.

I felt it apt to re-commence blogging though as I drop more work on the road and take up more work at home with the horses. My primary inspiration has been all that I have been accomplishing with my own horses as of late, in addition to my want to blog about the horses I currently have in training. I have made showing (Link, in particular) a #1 priority this year and have already taken Link to a Greg Best clinic at the Mane Event (more later!) and also am planning on attending a show at the end of the month with him and Onyx. Sonny's lessees will be taking Sonny as well (more later!). Several weeks ago the BO at the primary facility I board at sent out a mass email noting a local barn was looking for a trainer. Seeking to spend more time at home, I naturally inquired, and eventually struck a deal whereby I am home 2 weeks a month, and working on the road the other 2 weeks a month. During the two weeks I am home, I work with 5 fillies and mares - 4 to be started under-saddle, 1 to be taught basic groundwork. So the proceeding blogs will be filled with my adventures with these horses and also with my own.

So to start, an update on all my own horses first:

Phoenix is to be moved at the end of the month - with Soraya - to the facility where Link, Sonny, and Onyx currently are boarded. This puts him closer to me (only about 15-20 min from my house). I also plan on (likely) handing Phoenix over to the hubby, provided we can make him sound, as hubby has taken quite the shine to him. Phoenix has got the right 'tude I think to make a good first horse for hubby, especially with my guidance. Keeping Phoenix so close to home will better enable hubby to work with him, especially if I am already out there with my other horses. Phoenix dropped a lot of weight this last winter - it was a hard one; keeping him here at this new place I think he should put that weight on. I currently have him scheduled in for the vet Monday the 30th, so I will update at that time, when we better know what is going on. Last year we did flexions, blocks, and a Legend injection and narrowed the injury down to the left front ankle, but beyond that, we need x-rays, which is what we will be doing the 30th. He has been off the Previcoxx though now for several weeks and appears to have the same level of soundness as he did on the drug (now), so I am hoping that is a positive indicator. Fingers crossed!

Soraya will also be moved, seeing as she is at the same facility as Phoenix. This will allow me a lot more time with her since she will be closer... the indoor arena, too, will be a bonus! Currently, after training the horses at the barn I am training out of, I head on over to work with Link and Onyx; it won't be difficult then to include Soraya in my schedule. She really needs to be started under-saddle this year - that is my other #1 priority besides showing this year; it would be nice even to include a show or two under her girth by the end of the year, but we'll see! I am beyond excited to work with her - she is showing so much tremendous potential! I have worked with her once yet this year (though I have of course been out several times) - last I was home, May 2. Hubby and I went out there on a bright, warm day - he brushed Phoenix and spent some time with him while I worked with the big munster. Initially she was quite reactive and tried to intimidate and dominate me, even turning her hind in towards me a multitude of times - it didn't help that she was in heat and that when we arrived, she had been running the fenceline and working up a lather! We quietly worked through the first 5 of the 7 games, with a few spurts of her reacting poorly to my requests, and finished with a notably quiet horse and some good grooming - I'm sure it felt nice to remove some of that old winter hair still lingering ;) She was extremely responsive and light and sensitive, and as I worked with her, she became increasingly willing. None of the really bad behaviour I've seen from her over the past year - the blatant disrespect. I think she has actually got a decent nature and will sweeten up further with a little more work... keeping her in with Phoenix though we have noticed a drastic improvement in her nature, and I think also putting her in with the herd initially last fall - where she learned some boundaries and respect - was of great benefit also. All in all, I am quite pleased with her. She showed a lot of athletic ability even in our short work, and a lot of change in behaviour and receptiveness with only 20-30min of schooling on the ground. She is so bold and confident though! I can't wait to get on her back. I will probably start her a little slower than I will my client horses, but she should be under-saddle by end of June. So much potential! She is filling out and maturing much, so I will try to get some photos of her next I am home, and post them here. She's yet a little bum-high, so I am hoping that evens out this year, as she turns 4 end of July.

I've done a lot of in-depth research on Soraya's bloodlines though as of late and am quite impressed with what I've found. I had considered doing a broodmare lease on her but have decided against it fully, now. It's just a lot of hassle for me, limits my time to work with her, and is going to be costly. My hope is that next year I can breed her myself - after researching her lines my thoughts are turned to Landkonig, though I have much research yet to do and advice to seek. I love Viva Voltaire as well and am also considering him. I love the Quidams though, but temperament will be #1 and some of them are known for throwing more of a difficult temperament. Since the foal would be sold, I would be breeding for an ammy ride, but for pro potential. It would be optimal however if I could breed Soraya now so she is a proven broodmare prior to her career. So I am in the market (within the next few years) for fresh semen from a jumping stallion who will complement Soraya's conformation, temperament, and bloodlines... I have in mind a stallion auction in the spring I might go for next year. First things first however will be to have Soraya inspected - preferably by both the Hanoverian and the CWB associations.

Link continues to progress and demonstrate a ton of potential. Though I didn't feel the least bit ready and the mere thought of jumping and schooling in front of so many people struck the fear of God into my heart - I decided to enter him and I in a Greg Best clinic at the Mane Event. Our schooling sessions leading to the clinic were okay but increasingly progressive; the day of, Link warmed up very nicely. I was literally shaking with nervousness though, which really did not help relax such a sensitive horse! Poor Link! He did phenomenal though, earning the compliments from Greg that he was quite brave and athletic. I will try to post video and notes of our session asap! When I exited the clinic, tired but happy, hubby immediately commented to me - "he said everything you always say!". *facepalm* - haha, he was right! I loved Greg's approach - it was all about setting up parameters for the horse and not micro-managing... exactly as I teach and train. I wasn't doing it though when it came to jumping, down to telling Link when to jump! When I finally let go of my biases and just allowed Link the freedom to jump, he excelled. It was incredibly challenging however to let go of those old habits (from where I acquired them I have no idea!) but they were the only thing hampering Link. I will delve into the clinic further in a separate post dedicated solely to the Greg Best clinic. Too much learning to share here, and I still want to review the video hubby took, for more to sink in and so I can recall things correctly. Anyway, I learned enough to really feel confident in implementing a program for my jumpers. I am going to take some of the exercises Greg taught me and apply all my other new-found knowledge also to further lesson plans (ie, there are a great many excellent exercises in the book by Islay Auty - Progressive Schooling Exercises for Dressage & Jumping). I am showing Link at a small local show at the end of the month (May 28/29) - an excellent start for us. Hopefully I can quiet my nerves enough not to interfere so much with Link! I am also hoping - if I can get a ride for Link - to take Link down for some schooling rounds at Spruce Meadows while I am home (and continue to do so throughout the summer). I think the schooling rounds will be of great benefit!! Ultimately, I am aiming for an RMSJ show at the end of August and a Spruce show at the end of October. I'd love to have Link competing 09-1.10m by the end of the year - bit of a reach for the stars, but I think if I push myself, that we can really do it. My recent experiences though are further proof it's all about us, the rider. I have done my homework with Link and will continue to do so - not it's about improving myself so as to not hamper Link.

Onyx continues to do well and to progress, albeit not at the pace I would like for her to, as I have not been home much. Now that I am on a 2-2 schedule and home 2 weeks at a time however, she should progress at a greater rate. Her only issue is her confidence - when she is in heat, she loses confidence too. That said, she continues to progress w/t/c, is great going out by herself on the trail, and I have her going consistently over jumps 18" and under at a trot without hesitation, though with a little work encouraging her at the start. She continues to be ridden by one of Sonny's riders, an 11yo girl who does wonderful with her. Mom has expressed interest in possibly purchasing Onyx from me and selling Sonny instead and though I am hesitant to offer any bias, I am of the thought that Onyx might be a better fit for her. I expect a decision by the end of the month, at which time I will commence advertising Onyx if mom decides against her. In the mean time, Onyx will also be entered in the same show as Link at the end of the month and will be entered hors concours in the poles division. Entering her in a couple classes will allow her some great experience but running hors concours will be necessary given show rules and also given the fact Onyx is not ready yet to be actually jumping in a show (yet!).

Sonny is shaping up to be quite the little hunter! He isn't 100 percent consistent yet under his novice riders but continues to progress. He looks fabulous though and is also entered in the same show as Link and Onyx. He will be ridden by his two lessees, the 11yo and her father and will be entered in the 18'' and 2'-2'6'' classes. He's got to be at least 17 hands now! If mom decides to sell, I will put some intensive rides on him and refine what he's already got - he's actually got a lot of potential and really is proving a great little horse.

Silver and Koolaid are doing great in their lease homes. Koolaid is being used in weekly lessons and as his lessee's 'fun' horse to relax on. His lessees decided to continue leasing him throughout the year, at least until this fall. Silver is being ridden by a 15(?)yo girl who does all the same things I did with him at that age - cows, barrels, poles, jumping, etc. He looks great and seems happy; he is entered in a yearly lease but his lessee's intend to keep him indefinitely. His lessees decided against moving away and I decided against an indefinite lease or other. Both horses are settled in good homes for the year.

I think that is about it for now - I will blog about the new horses in training and the Greg Best clinic, separately in my next blogs. For now, I am really looking forward to getting home next Wednesday and commencing my work with my own and my client horses Thursday.

With my own horses, after reviewing some of my previous blogs, it really struck me how much some liberty work (ie, using it to create draw and cement our foundation) will be of great benefit. I also would like to focus on on-line work simultaneously. So I am really excited to dedicate say one day a week of work as liberty work in the roundpen and on-line work in the arena with all my own horses (more with Soraya of course since she is not yet started under-saddle). Check out this link - I recently discovered it and feel it really articulates what I've heard Pat Parelli discuss (albeit in other words)... I feel it has much to apply to Link and Onyx especially! So, incorporating even more relaxation, more rest breaks, and more work on a loose casual rein (ie, trail rides!) will be a priority. Since I work the horses Mon-Fri (with exceptions, especially given weather at times), my line of thinking with my own horses - Link and Onyx specifically - is to dedicate one day to groundwork, two to flatwork, and two to jumping. Any extra days I throw in will be dedicated to trails (which can be included also during the week of course) and anything extra we need to work on (ie, jumping), if we are not showing. I've become so focused and work-driven that it's time to also incorporate some play and to cement and progress that foundation, language, and partnership all our work stands on! I anticipate it will greatly benefit all the horses and particularly Link and Onyx.

No comments: