Tag Archives | SLJ Eventing

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!

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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!

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Sometimes, the horse chooses you…

Sig-Oso

Oso Smart and Sigourney’s second day under saddle

Sometimes, the horse chooses you…

Just yesterday, I was asked to point out why I thought one young OTTB would be a better competition prospect than another. Confirmation, bloodlines, race history, and temperament can all play a role in choosing a horse off the track with the ability to be successful in a second career. In a completely objective world, only these things would matter. But, sometimes it’s the look in the horse’s eye as you meet them, that special feeling you get when they give you that first nuzzle or whiskery kiss that makes the decision for you…

I met Oso for the first time in a shaded barn aisle at Eclipse Equine Sports Therapy Center in Paso Robles. I walked down the aisle, searching for his name on the stall door, excited to see him for the first time. I found his stall, and he looked at me and came to say hello. Now, I can try to say it was the rhythm and fluidity in his walk down the barn aisle, or the suspension in his trot as he jogged down the driveway that made me conclude he would be an excellent prospect for eventing or dressage. But in truth, it was the friendliness in his gaze, and the gentle way he reached his nose out to nuzzle my hand that told me Oso was a special horse.

Time will tell if he will be a future dressage or eventing star (I think he has all the tools to be!). For now, I’m going to savor our first few rides, and enjoy seeing his lovely face over the stall door every morning.

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Neigh Savers’ Horse to compete in Retired Racehorse Project’s 100K makeover

Oso SmartOso Smart begins his journey to Kentucky

We are pleased to announce that our professional trainer, Sigourney Jellins of SLJ Eventing applied for and was selected to participate in the Retired Racehorse Project’s 100K makeover competition to be held in Lexington, Kentucky October 2016.

As her horse Sigourney chose Oso Smart, a beautiful 2011 dark bay gelding by the great sire and two time Horse of the Year Curlin.  Oso was just coming off a lengthy rehab with us for a bow tendon injury.  He last raced in February 2015. Oso came to Neigh Saver’s through the CARMA (California Retirement Management Account) Placement Program. The program helps transition horses, typically ones with injuries from racing to retraining or retirement programs.

We are very excited for Sigourney and equally excited for Oso who is being offered a tremendous training opportunity.  Sigourney was chosen for both dressage and eventing so we will see what discipline Oso will eventually compete in.

Oso has no sponsors and we would appreciate donations towards his professional training costs, board, farrier, medical, shavings and supplements.  We also need to raise money to send him to Kentucky and then back to California.  After his competition he will be offered for adoption through our program.  Any sponsors to Oso’s training and other supportive costs will have first right of refusal if interested in adopting.  Oso is a beautifully built very athletic horse with lots of Irish sports horse in his pedigree.  He is a kind and willing partner as well.  In other words, even without the exceptional training is now getting, he is a real find.

We are thrilled that Neigh Savers will be participating in the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover and wish both Sigourney and Oso great success. Oso Smart will be available for adoption after he participates in the Retired Racehorse Project’s 100K makeover competition to be held in Lexington, Kentucky October 2016.