Spring Training Begins!

Today’s Tip: Set goals to help focus your training. Read on for the goals I set today!

Muddy ClassyMother nature, for once, decided to cooperate and give us the perfect day to get started and get ready for 2010. It started out a little dreary, as you can see in this photo. And when I say “get started” I mean that I literally haven’t spent any time with him this year other than being his maid and chef. That’s why he looks the way he does in this photo – gross horse, gross hair, gross attitude, and gross paddock.

I loaded Classy up in the trailer and headed off to a nearby farm with an indoor arena (code for flat ground that’s not a swamp). The first task was trying to get him looking like a real horse again. Yes it was a long time, but it was also very worth it. A lot of that time was picking out the tangled, matted mess that was his mane. If you’ve ever dealt with such a mane, I hope you never tried to take a brush to it. It’s a delicate process that involves a lot of finger combing and delicate extracting of each little hair from one big mess. More than an hour and a half later, the diamond was starting to emerge from the rough. Classy Cleaned Up

As the grooming progressed, so did the amount of sunshine. By the time we were done, it was in the 50’s and and absolutely perfect day.

Then the riding began. I never have high expectations for the first ride of the spring, especially with this guy, because it takes some time to get the behavioral kinks straightened out. Happily we had an excellent ride. He’s obviously out of condition as he was soaked with foam and sweat by the time he was done.

Part of our preparation is getting him more responsive to a snaffle bit since we frequently work in a kimberwick or Walking horse bit. He works ok in a snaffle, he’s just not as sensitive to it. Today he was nicely on the bit, very well collected (though also needed a lot of stretching due to the whole out of shape thing), and responded to rein cues quite well.

One of the things today was about was establishing goals for this year. Here are the ones we’re starting with:

  • Developing clean transitions, including coming down to a nice walk out of a canter and not sticking nose and head up and out during transitions, including halts.
  • Attaining nice, square halts.
  • Consistently maintaining a nice frame.
  • Learn how to do a collected “dog walk” (his free walk is one speed and as soon as I pick him up to collect him, he speeds up, which is something I kind of taught him, but now have to UNteach).
  • And of course, get in shape! I’d claim total success if we start to see some muscles under the layers of flab that haven’t really dissipated any time in the last ten years.

Of course, as anyone who has ever ridden a horse until it got sweaty knows, the first thing they feel compelled to do the minute you let go of them is roll. Classy didn’t disappoint:

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