After a a long, wet, and hot (American) summer, I’m excited to see September edge closer to October.
I spent the hottest months of the year going back to the basics with my Thoroughbred gelding. It feels like we’ve been stuck in the same cycle for a long time. During my first year of ownership, there were many more lows than highs with Mikey, a big goofy chestnut gelding. He had seemingly endless health problems. But after many vet visits, equipment changes, and reinventions of his diet, we are *fingers crossed* finally in the clear.
Now that my horse was healthy, it was time to get him working again. He’s a big green bean. And even though we’ve been working together for more than a year, we hadn’t made much progress under saddle. Well, until recently.
I enlisted the help of a dressage trainer and show jumping instructor to help get my horse going. We were running into the usual gamut of issues with a young horse: evasion of contact, inability to be straight, unbalanced in his gaits. So I decided to cut out the jumping training and focus only on flat work for at least three months.
And I’m so glad I did.
It’s paid off ten-fold! So when September rolled around, I had a horse that was fit and willing to go around in a frame, in balanced gaits, and most of all: STRAIGHT. He became so much more adjustable after our flatwork summer boot camp, that when we slowly started jumping again this month, I felt like I had a totally different horse. He was jumping better, with much more scope. I could adjust the strides between lines much more easily, and I could ride more jumper-like turns with less of a fuss.
There was a small hunter/jumper school circuit picking up at the start of the month, and I decided it was a good temperature-taker show to get Mikey out and about off property again. There was no pressure — we would jump a couple of 2’3″ jumper courses (which are shorter than my giant horse’s knees) just to get around. But we’d be applying all the things we learned over the summer: balance, straightness, adjustability, to put our newly achieved skills to the test.
The horse show day came, and it arrived with thunderstorms. Luckily we were showing in a covered arena. Mikey was gentleman all day at the show grounds. He was happy to hack around the warm up and watch all the action of the show. When our classes finally came, he cantered around rhythmically and easily over all the fences. He was incredibly adjustable, so much so that we were able to take quicker, sharper turns on the jumper courses than I anticipated riding!
We weren’t very fast, mind you. Our courses looked more like eq trips than anything else. But it was a wonderful, confidence boosting evening for the both of us.
That summer of trotting circle after circle after circle was really the game changer for us. It was a good reminder for me, whom at times, I admit, became impatient with Mikey’s slew of mysterious ailments and inability to focus under saddle… In the grand scheme of things, this is merely a few logged baby steps, but from where we were a year ago, it’s a huge improvement. It makes me eager and excited to keep working hard — but slow — on bringing along this giant green horse.