Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Romeo's in the Zone

I don't have much to update on Dickie and Breedle. Bre is happily getting fat and getting loved on by Romeo's Girl. We have worked out a great trade systems. For every hour I teach her she gives me equal time in horse chores. It is hard having two horses. The youngest one is the most demanding so Bre doesn't get as much of my time. The barn owner treats her like their own and spends daily time in her stall cuddling and giving her treats. However, it is nice to have RG take her blanket off, look for rubs and cuts, and pick out her feet. I paid her to do this during nursing school and it was a huge weight off my shoulders. Bre think her prime role in life is being admired so the arrangement makes her very happy.

Nothing is new with Dickie. His ear is healing wonderfully and he got his feet trimmed on Sunday. He was filled with naughty both times.
Romeo on the other hand has had some very exciting breakthroughs. It is all a result of his riders wonderful riding. You may recall that Romeo ended the show season a hot mess. He was sore, his gaits were choppy, couldn't pick up the right lead, wouldn't move past a teensy jog, and chomps at the bit like the worries of the world were on his shoulder. He has had a lease for the last year but I didn't think it was his rider causing the issues. I had seen her ride back when she first started leasing Romers and she had the making of a lovely rider back then.

I had a suspicion that it was misguided (although well meaning instruction). That instructor left the state and I graduated RN school so it was great timing for me to take over. She rides western and that isn't my gig. However...... I know more about western that I let on. And, unless you are wanting to do breed shows, good riding is good riding. Romeo is naturally a WP horse so if you ride him correctly he naturally wants to jog around smooth as silk.

I am so impressed with the maturity of the youngster. She whole heartedly accepted that to move foreward we had to go backwards. He was stressed, tight, stiff, unresponsive. To get out of that we had to let him stick his head up in the air, trot/canter too fast, and chuck the curb. I didn't care if he was on the forehand or rush he just needed to remember that leg/seat means go not suck back/chomp the bit and break gait. Nothing could look less like WP than the first few weeks. She got the concept of what we were doing so fast that in just a few lessons he started stretching down and actually using his back. Pretty soon he moved out without the crop and hardly any leg. Somewhere in there he stopped breaking stride when she asked him to move out. Did I mention his young gal can get him to go from jog to working trot without anything visible from the ground? He is back to picking up his right lead canter EVERY TIME even when doing 10meter serpentines from right to left.

Then there's the bitting issue. He has a very sensitive mouth and is a worrier. You wouldn't think it to meet him. He is a mellow slow moving guy. He internalizes things though and it comes out through an incessant spazzy champ champ champ. It is kind of hard to present a relaxed picture to the judge with that going on. I had a feeling when I started with him that a different bit would help. I also know that this type of horse works better when you just leave their face alone entirely and ride them from your seat. Once their back/butt get moving correctly it is more work to have a giraffe then just relax and stretch. If you get into the mode of "headset" it will never work with this kind of horse. I had switched him into a french link snaffle that they didn't use for half the year. Then they added a curb (he is over 5) and he HATED it. He hated every one they tried. They all had long shanks and high ports. A few weeks ago she had him going in the snaffle with pretty much zero champing and sucking his chin to his chest so it was time to try a curb again.

Last week our new curb got here and they looked AMAZING from the first trot. I think he might have liked it better than the snaffle. He still needs some help with tight turns neck reining but he was stretching down and foreward. He didn't champ one time and we were asking him to so some complicated things. I was so proud of how she used that curb. She was using is very differently than what I observed this summer. She gets when to release better than many adults.

I am so proud of the two of them. Things are rusty and I think the upcoming show will be sloppy. High School Eq team will probably be a little messy too. I let her know if she tries to put a headset on him before he is ready they will be back where he was after state last year. They are on track to peak at 4H not this winter and she is OK with that. However, if they keep on this path they will be in the ribbons for High School Eq team next year. The biggest thing I am proud of is that she isn't getting antsy for things to be perfect now. That has to be hard for a teenager. And I see her making such good independent decisions. He was getting all fired up and rushing when we worked on patters. Without me even asking she took him out to the rail got him moving forward and relaxed then brought him back to a WP pace. I think it is a big deal for a young rider to decide "Moving my horse OUT will work better to slow things down more than holding him back".

Sorry it was a novel. I am just so happy at where Romeo and his Girl are. I knew things would get better but I never expected them to improve so fast. I am going to tell her it isn't about the ribbons but I will admit to you guys that I am going to gloat big time this summer if she cleans up.


  1. That is so fantastic!! She sounds so talented and sensible. Keep up the awesome work!