Sunday, September 2, 2012

Progress Notes

Last evening, Starlight and I chased cattle off our property as a warm-up, then worked in our “dressage arena.”  It’s an unfenced bit of hay field, defined by the wooden letter signs I painted and pounded in. 

In no particular order, some thoughts about Starlight’s progress:
  • She runs away from me when I approach her to go for a ride, but, once caught and under saddle, she tries to do everything I ask.  She DOES everything I ask, as long as I ask correctly.
  • She immediately understood that the little signs represented the confines of an arena, and puts her head up and ears toward me in surprise if I ask her to go outside of them.  If she could color, she would definitely try to stay inside the lines.
  • She is too smart for much repetitive practice, such as drilling a dressage test, because she learns the pattern and then she makes the gait transitions herself, without my asking. 
  • She goes better in a bit than without one, because she responds well to light hands and I have to be ham-handed with the bitless one.  However, when I teach her to back-up in a pattern, I’ll use the bitless one to spare her delicate mouth. Teaching this type of work will involve some pressure. 
  • She is starting to understand my requests for lateral movement, moving off the track and back on it.  She confuses these cues, sometimes, with a request for more speed, but is starting to understand that legs can give a variety of cues that mean things other than "trot."
  • She is learning to vary speed and extension at walk and trot.  She is still too unbalanced at the canter to ask for this sort of variety at that gait, but she cracks me up by going from a big extension in the trot to a pokey, Western pleasure jog when I ask.
  • She started getting ansty at saddling when I was using the 36 cm Duett, but is perfectly calm now that I switched to Hudson’s wide Thornhill.  My guess is the Duett hurt her back, yet the cheap Thornhill feels OK.  She is the second horse I have who hates the Duett, even though I personally love it, and I don’t like the Thornhill, due to its tendency to put me in a chair seat.  But, of course, their comfort comes before mine.
  • I let her hooves grow a touch longer and also use the boots every ride, except in arenas, and she has no more foot soreness. I use Cavallo simple boots and will soon order new ones, as hers are starting to wear out.  I may look into some that fit her a little more closely, but it might just be the Cavallo sport boots, since I love the Cavallos.  I'm also considering the Marquis Supergrip. I also added a vitamin E/Selenium supplement, after learning she was low in SE. 
  • I’m planning to show her in the Sept. 14 Empire State PaintHorse Club show, weather permitting. 
  • She doesn’t know it yet, but she will soon be learning how to jump.

A good horse and her dork.


    1. Keep this horse! She's wonderful-- everything you report is perfect for her age and experience. Good job to both of you!