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Oso Schooling at Woodside

Another great trailering and training session with Oso at the horse park. After a nice hack around the cross country course, we headed up to the arena to pop over a few show jumps. In the last few weeks, I have focused on developing Oso’s strength and adjustability in the canter through work in the lunge. Lunging Oso in side reins and Pessoa system (not something I use on every horse, but Oso seems to like the support it provides) has helped him develop confidence in his canter and steadiness in the bridle. It has definitely paid off, as he trotted and cantered small cross rails and verticals in good rhythm, even throwing in a flying lead change when we changed direction. We ended by going up and down the banks in the arena–Oso’s first introduction to this element! Looks like we might be off to our first show on Sunday, stay tuned!


Oso’s First Cross Country Jump!

Oso and I had a great ‘field trip’ to the Woodside horse park yesterday! He trailered like a gentleman, and was calm and confident as we rode out to the cross country course. Despite horses galloping in the distance, he was focused and listening. Once again, he went right into the water without hesitation, and we were able to quietly trot and canter around with other horses (something he used to find very exciting when we would attempt this in the ring). Oso even jumped his first cross
country log! I am very proud of him, he was a pleasure to ride and seemed to enjoy himself!


Building a Few New Skills

In the last week or so, I started working Oso in hand from the ground with the intention of increasing his suppleness under saddle, developing his focus, and teaching him more extensive lateral work. I stand next to Oso on the ground and use taps with a long whip to direct his hind end and the reins to keep him soft and round through the poll and the neck. As expected, Oso was smart and willing as we tackled something new. He also really enjoyed the cookies I fed him throughout the training process! He quickly picked up shoulder in, haunches in, and a bit of turn on the haunches. I am looking forward to putting these new skills to work under saddle!


Learning to Jump

As Oso learns to jump, I have made it my goal to challenge and help him progress while keeping him feeling confident and successful about his ‘job’. Some horses take to jumping easily and quickly, others take a bit longer to figure out how to jump. Oso is careful for the most part to keep his feet out of the way of the jump, and when we are able to maintain a good canter coming to the jump, he is simple to ride! Our biggest challenge is to continue to improve the consistency of balance and rhythm in Oso’s canter. We have worked on a few different exercises so far: trot poles for strength and coordination, canter poles on the ground to improve adjustability and jumps on the circle to improve suppleness. In the next week I am planning on working on Oso’s canter on the flat, (getting him to accept my leg and allow me to sit a little more deeply in the saddle) and hopefully start jumping through small grids!



Learning Some New Things

July 5th 2016 – I am so proud of Oso, he is becoming accustomed to handling trailering to other locations to ride with no issues. I have made an effort in the last week to get him over to the Woodside Horse Park a couple times within the span of a few days, as it sometimes helps young horses figure out that trailering is part of their program and not a big deal. Today was our best ride yet, we hacked all over the cross country course, up hills, around jumps, and through the water! He walked right into the water with no problems. We also went in the arena where the A circuit Hunter/jumper show was being held and schooled over a couple of jumps! He did not blink an eye at the brightly colored poles, plants and gates. Oso is brave to the jumps without being hot, I think he likes to jump! Jumping training has also helped his canter develop. Having a jump or pole in front of him makes him balance from his hind end. I am looking forward to seeing how Oso does cross country schooling!



Oso is Growing Up!

June 19th 2016 – Oso has made great strides since our last blog update. I started him over some small fences, and we made our first trip away from the home barn! With a young horse, my only goal for the first ‘field trip’ is to make it a positive experience, even if that means simply trailering to a new place, walking around, and trailering home. Of course, given Oso’s easy going and affable personality, I had high hopes we would be able to accomplish even more on our first trip! He exceeded my expectations, and we had a great ride, at the Woodside Horse Park! After getting over some initial nervousness about being in such a large space, we were able to do some nice trot work, and then hang out quietly as I taught a few students in their horses. We ended with a trail ride on cross country course. Looking forward to our next adventure, and hopefully our first show sometime soon!

Oso Woodside At The Horse ParkOso Woodside In the ArenaOso Woodside On the Cross Country Course



We Can Canter!

image1A week or two ago, I started working Oso in the canter a bit, just to see how well he was able to balance himself initially. Some young thoroughbreds are heavy in the bridle in the canter as they are used to leaning on the bit or rider’s hands for balance. For dressage and jumping, we want to help the horse to learn to accept the bit, hold a steady contact, but balance from behind and remain relatively light on the forehand. My initial impression was that Oso had good natural balance in the canter, but his straightness, rhythm, and acceptance of the bit was going to take some work. Our first few canters consisted of a few straight strides, followed by several sideways and silly steps! The next few rides (and the last week or so) I have focused on continuing to develop our ability to bend to the right, and our adjustability in the trot. We revisited the canter for the first time in our latest ride, and Oso was fantastic in both directions! He picked up both leads on the first try, and was able to canter a big circle quietly and in good balance! We even had a few steps where Oso softened and held a contact. Love this boy!


Trail Ride Time!

image1It’s been a great week with Oso, we went on a little trail ride today and he was a good boy! With young horses, I find the more they get out to see different things the more focused they are when asked to work in the arena. This is definitely proving to be true with Oso. A few days after moving to the bigger turnout, we had a real test of his focus while riding. New horses were being let out into the turnouts (right next to the arena), and they started running around playing. In the past this has been a definite cause of excitement for Oso! This time, though he looked to check out what the other horses were doing, he stayed calm and remained focused on our work in the arena. Today we did a relaxed walk on the trail to finish up our ride. Oso has a good head on his shoulders!


Some Windy Weather, and a Little Cantering

Oso-TrotOso and I have made great progress in the last week, despite some very windy weather. While Oso is an even tempered and mature five year old, the wind still has a tendency to make him excitable! After a couple mildly wild rides, I decided it was a good idea to introduce Oso to a bigger turnout paddock. Oso lives in a stall with a connected paddock, but turnout in a bigger space has been a good addition to his program. He loves hanging out all afternoon with his horse buddies, and as an added bonus, he is spending lots of time next to the tree he finds so spooky when we ride and it’s windy. In the last few days, we have started doing a few steps of canter and did our first ride in the dressage saddle! The canter will definitely be a work in progress, but Oso seems to have good ability to balance and carry himself!


A Very Smart Boy

Oso exemplifies the intelligence and extraordinary work ethic of the thoroughbred. He remembers what we have worked on the day before and (for the most part!) goes to work with focus and relaxation. He seems to enjoy training, and tries hard to please. Because he is now able to hold a consistent rhythm in his trot, and I have started to ask for more impulsion, balance and suppleness in our work. We are now doing 20 meter circles, shoulder fore, transitions within the trot, and changes of bend. He is beginning to be able to engage more from behind and becoming more confident in the contact. Though I have led him over poles and around jumps, this weekend we did our first rides in the ring with poles and cavalettis set up. I have found in the past that young horses occasionally find these spooky and was prepared to introduce him to riding around them slowly. However, Oso was a perfect gentleman, and did not even seem to notice the poles! In the next few weeks, I am hoping to continue to develop his strength in preparation for beginning canter work!


Learning to Long Line

I have started long lining Oso in the last few days as a way to improve his straightness, ability to bend, and acceptance of the bit. Long lining is a great tool for young horses, as it allows them to work the correct muscles without the weight or stress of the rider. The rider can straighten the horse’s body as the lines run from the bit to tail. Additionally, with the lines supporting the horse from nose to tail, he or she learns that bending happens through the rib cage, and not solely through the neck.

Oso, like many former race horses, is more comfortable going to the left, and has a tendency to get crooked going to the right. He accepts the leg as a bending aid nicely going to the left, we have not quite mastered this concept going to the right! Our long lining sessions have made a difference in the way he is traveling under saddle going to the right.

Our first session, I started by getting Oso used to the lines going over his rump, under his tail, and touching his hind legs. As I got him used to me walking behind him ‘driving’ him forward, I also had a helper walk next to his head for a few minutes to reassure Oso (and to make sure I had brakes!). Once Oso was comfortable with the concept of long lining, we worked mainly in the walk, lots if big circles and changes of direction. we worked on softening and bending to the right, traveling straight with Oso’s shoulders in front of his haunches. Besides a few minor mishaps, (once when Oso decided to turn around and I couldn’t dissuade him from coming to say hello to me!) he was great! I am hoping our long lining work will prove to be an important ‘building block’ in our flat work!


Oso Smart’s Breakthrough Video!

Oso is proving to be a very smart boy! The last couple of rides have been nothing short of fantastic. He seems to be starting to understand that his new job is different than racing, and is staying relaxed and quiet the whole ride.

Before our last two rides, our trot work has consisted of short, choppy steps. Oso did not yet understand that I would like him to stretch down into the contact, lengthen his neck, and relax and use his back. Yesterday, after our 15-20 minute walk warmup, we picked up the trot and did our trot half the arena, walk half the arena exercise. I like to do this exercise to make it clear to Oso that once his workout starts, it does not get progressively faster. Every ride, I try to show Oso the way I would like him to carry himself by keeping my hands lowered a bit on either side of his neck, and providing a steady, but soft contact.

By our last trot yesterday, Oso took a deep breath, relaxed and accepted the contact! As soon as he lowered his neck and softened his back, I rewarded him by giving forward with my hands. I trotted another half lap, cooled him out and gave him lots of pats! Today we picked up right where we left off. In our first lap of trot around the arena, he was looking to soften and accept the contact. We were able to get some nice moments going both directions today. What a good boy!