Baby horses are a challenge, they are big and still learning to be solid citizens. It can require a bit of mental fortitude to get up the courage to take them on field trips, especially with a second horse, alone. So, I always try to make sure I am going places where there are supportive people in an appropriate facility.
I had emailed Inga Janke after a lesson last month on Bali and she was happy to help with Neuf, the 3 year old…with 3 months under saddle. I was also taking Bali and initially I had planned on taking Neuf over to my friend’s farm to acclimate him, alone, without the Bali screaming her head off at him, because there is nothing more frustrating than spending money on a lesson where your horse is just not ready mentally. But, the tire repair on the trailer ate into my time, and I didn’t get over there.
I almost chickened out, Neuf had turned into an utter heathen on Friday, at JJ’s farm. But, he’d settled beautifully at the end. I practiced loading and unloading him while Lauren was here on Tuesday, because he’d started getting a bit sticky on the trailer loading, and that is just not acceptable. I need horses to be 100% on loading, when I am alone, because I do most of my lesson trips alone.
I loaded up at 3:10p, my first lesson was at 4:45p. It is less than 10 minutes to the farm. I put on his chain, and he unloaded politely. My friend held him while I unloaded Bali and we tucked Bali into a spare stall. I decided to ride Neuf first, since I wasn’t sure if he’d get himself worked up in a new barn while I rode Bali.
Aaaannnd…he was boring! Yippee! Huzzah! He did not try to run me over. He was polite, he walked all around the arena, nibbled grass, ignored Bali screaming for him, and I was thrilled!
I tacked up, put on his side reins and lunged him briefly in the ring before I got on, and we had a half lesson, because that was the appropriate amount of work for him.
Now, for the lesson notes.
I need to get him more active and forward in the walk. He was super and moved off my leg. I need to remember to keep contact when I send him more forward. He is a baby horse and so I go immediately back into my old ways of throwing the reins away. I need to just send him forward into the contact. It is not like I am asking for collection, just contact. He needs to accept it…and he does, with little fanfare or fuss!
Then we trotted, his giant trot is still hard for me. This also needed to be more forward. Inga likes to have the baby horses even a bit over-tempo to get them forward as this can make it easier for them to reach for the contact. Get him in front of my leg! When my hands got too unsteady, I just took my handy billet straps that I now use as hand stabilizers. I spent years using a bucking strap, but it is too low and too far back. And, I realized I was using it too much, and not developing the core muscles enough, so when I got my new monoflap saddle, all those keepers were just sitting there, and I realized that it was in the right place and the right length to give me movement with limits! Inga liked it.
At one point, Inga told me not to do the see-sawing with my hands, and I said that I felt like I was not creating the motion, but attempting to keep a steady contact when Neuf was drop it, and she understood and said I need to send him more forward when I get that feeling. I will practice that!
When we got to canter, Neuf was fabulous, picked up the correct lead, both directions. I went large, then a couple of 20m circles and then trotted. A bit of a walk out and we were done.
I am giddy at how good he was!