I’m terribly remiss in my blogging.. I ride more than I write.
We’ve been so lucky to have seen a bunch of horses off to their new homes and careers the last few months Mazzie, Hurry, Cadence, Casey, Bid, Jester, Bolt, Tommy and Wheatie..and while I look at those name and remember each individual horse I’m reminded how unique they each are. Each has their own personality and quirks. One might be quick off the leg, or a bit through his body than the others.. one might have a easier time cantering in balance at first . But at the end of the day they’ve all been delightful to work with and have made me wonder if it really IS this easy…it is, isn’t it? They ARE all different, so for EACH one we do whatever it takes.
Well meet CMA Clearview Heights.. a big 5 yo chestnut gelding.. big looking, big moving, big pony!This picture is one of the first times I rode him in Allie’s ring. He started out started great in the ring but we quickly found he got a little anxious hacking out. To be honest he was pretty naughty. Sadly, the video camera never seems to be on during the spin and wheel episodes! ha! Suffice to say, he makes very good use of the Wild Jersey Boy Memorial Neck Strap!
Some of them just don’t “get it” and going to a new environment and having to stand still, in the woods, for example.. can cause a bit of anxiety.. such WAS the case with Clive.. So after two attempts at hacking out which ended with us jumping off and walking him home.. in hand.. we decided I’d focus on working only in the ring with him. Whatever it takes, right? This is a video Allie took the first week of ring work:
Yes, he’s cute, yes he can move.. but notice how behind my leg he is, and how I am kicking every stride! 🙂 I didn’t know it at the time but would soon find out that Clive thinks HE is the Decider. He thought it was up to HIM how fast we went, what direction we went and how fast we went there.. oh no, Clive, my friend.. how wrong you were!
So, I basically took things back to basics with him. I started with ground work. Call it Natural Horsemanship, call it what you want. I call it Plain Old Horsemanship. After a solid week of nothing but ground work, I introduced light flatwork into the routine. One day ground work, next day flatwork, next day ground work AND flatwork.. follow me? Then, when he was consistent in that at Allie’s farm, Clive moved up to Vass to live with my horse, Tip.
Clive: dis grass iz gud! Tip: I know, right!?
Once in Vass Clive settled right in but still demonstrated some nappiness when hacking away from the barn, and even stranger.. while going back TO the barn. Most of us have felt that anxiety under us and its not a great feeling. My least favorite is when they don’t stand STILL so you can get OFF of them.. unnice.. Well, out came longe lines and let the ground driving begin!! I said “we’re going to HACK and hack is what we’re going to DO! “.. ( even if I’m walking behind the horse!)
Let’s just say I’m a huge believer in long lining/ground driving or whatever you want to call it – its a fantastic training tool. From the perspective of walking behind the horse you can see WHAT they do instead of just feel it, and can also see what might be going on to cause it. You can also make corrections without the risk of things deteriorating into a bad situation.
This process took weeks. I would long line Clive one day, the next day lead him to the riding area, get on and do light flatwork, get off and walk him back to the barn. The next day I’d long line him around the farm or literally into the woods on a “hack”. The next day I’d walk him out to the riding area, get on and do some flatwork, get off and lead him back. A HUGE deal was when I got on AT the barn, and rode out to the riding area, did some flat work, then rode him back. A giant thrill was when Clive hacked out with my friend Karen on her horse. A even GIGANICER thrill was when i got on and I took this lovely ( but naughty) horse on a hack all by himself.
So to make a not-so-long story even longer.. Clive is doing very well. I can hack him out without issue but I STILL am disciplined and keep ground work in Clive’s program. He’s the kind of horse that needs it and benefits from it.
This is a video of him that Allie took last week.
Notice the change in his balance (more uphill) and how much more in front of my leg he is now. Both of those things are MY decision! (OK, Clive, I know YOU’RE the one doing the actual TROTTING! geez.)
I have high hopes for CMA Clearview Heights. He’s not for a beginner, but with the right rider I know he will do great things. Its been a long road with him, and I’ll continue on that road until he finds his ‘person’. But till then, for this horse, and for all of them, I’ll do whatever it takes.