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Author: Stephani Hren

Lesson Recap: Our First Bounce

Lesson Recap: Our First Bounce

Sunday morning Raglan and I had a #crashandburn moment. I hadn’t planned on jumping him, but another boarder had a couple jumps set up and she put one down to 2’0″ for me when she was done. We trotted our way up to it, but he was so busy listening to the ducks next door that his head wasn’t in the game and he slammed on the brakes, took a nosedive down towards the jump, and barely managed to scramble back onto his feet at the last second. I ended up sitting on his neck, but otherwise unscathed.

We made it over the jump eventually, but it definitely scuffed his confidence

The next day, TrainerM set up a bounce for our lesson. Raglan’s never been over a bounce. The first was a cross rail and the second was a little vertical, but despite the tiny sizes I had a feeling it would be a big challenge. Still, he warmed up nicely, and he popped over a lone vertical without trouble.

My gut wasn’t wrong, though. Raglan went over the first part, then brake-checked me at the second. My leg wasn’t forward enough and I got thrown over his shoulder. I swan dived straight towards the jump, but managed to kick free and land on my feet before my face could smash into the pole. We got a round of applause, then I knocked the jump over and forced Raglan the Cow to walk over the whole thing with me.

I didn’t get my unplanned dismount on video (booooo!), but TrainerM dropped parts of the jumps down and eventually Raglan figured out how to go over the bounce like a proper horse.

Afterwards I put Raglan on the lunge line and handed him over to TrainerM. We put the bounce up to two verticals and sent him over it riderless. It was a great experience for him! He got to figure out his feet without me there to pressure him. We even put the rails up a couple of holes and he did a great job bounding over them. I want to schedule a time with TrainerM to set up a grid for him to free jump one of these days!

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ohhhhh I DO LIKE DIS 😀

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Because of how athletic and savvy Raglan is, it can be hard to remember that he’s really green over fences. There are so many things that he needs to experience before he’s a confirmed jumper. It’s important to follow my instincts and remember that it’s okay to put the jumps down and go back to the basics. It’s easier to set him up for success from the beginning than it is to rebuild his confidence after the fact!

Look Ma, No Shoes

Look Ma, No Shoes

LOOK AT WHAT MY JERKWAD HORSE DID ON TUESDAY.

I’ve been trying to turn him out more often lately. The barn just restructured their monthly turnout service (more reliable and you pay a flat fee instead of per turnout) and I want to be able to take advantage of it, but Raglan’s got a habit of trying to giant-horse-smash his handler on the way to the paddocks. We’ve been working on his manners. Lately I’d almost even call him “civil”, if not “polite”.

In case you missed it, Raglan’s not a normal pony. When I first got him my farrier pulled his (weird, square-toed, set back) shoes off and he immediately went lame. We put regular shoes on him and he was still lame. Eventually we narrowed it down to a sole sensitivity problem, so Raglan’s been happily rocking bright yellow No Vibe pads on his front feet for close to a year now without any troubles.

Pics from last September, the first time we put the No Vibe pads on

A couple of shoeing cycles ago my farrier thought we might be able to take the No Vibe pads out of the equation. I wasn’t so sure about it, though, and since they’re only an extra $30 I decided to err on the side of caution and keep them on. I liked knowing that he could strut across the gravel without having to worry about any ouchiness, that no matter what he walked over he was going to be A-okay.

Taking a grass break while our farrier works on another horse in the background

But when he came in from turnout on Tuesday with one front shoe missing and the other one hanging on by half of its nails, my farrier and TrainerM both agreed: pull the shoe, ride him anyways, see if he complains. Raglan’s thoughts on his missing pads/shoes setup? He DGAF.

TALL RIDER = ACTIVATE FIRE-BREATHING DRAGON MODE

Yesterday we had a fantastic ride. Raglan was feeling fresh, but he was in such a good mood that it was easy to channel all of his energy into positive outlets. I made some adjustments to his canter, practiced my two point, and worked on using my core more through canter to halt transitions. With the help of a few words of advice from TrainerA, we even managed to do another clean lead change!

And then I took him back to the barn and started to untack him and found THIS.

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HAR U SERIOUS RIGHT NOW?

I stared at the crack for all of thirty seconds, then put my horse back in his stall and didn’t look at him again until I came to get him for his farrier appointment. #ASHAMED

The farrier’s verdict? Since he wasn’t showing signs of lameness without his shoes, we decided to leave the No Vibe pads out of the equation for now. We can always bring them back into the picture if his soles get sore again, but with any luck he should stay sound without them. He was also able to cut most of the crack off, nail on his shoes, and then file out the rest of it. I forgot to take pics, but his feet are back to looking 👌

ALSO THIS LITTLE VOLE WANDERED UNDER RAGLAN WHILE WE WERE SHOEING SO WE PAUSED SO THAT I COULD SCOOP HIM UP AND MOVE HIM BACK TO THE GRASS.

LOOK AT HOW CUTE HE IS, I CAN’T EVEN
Lesson Recap: Right Shoulder Up

Lesson Recap: Right Shoulder Up

This week I made the questionable decision to give Raglan Sunday off so that I could spend the day sleeping, getting a pedicure, and finishing up some stuff that has been trapped on my to-do list for weeks. Raglan’s a monster after a day of down time, so I got to the barn early on Monday so that he could spend a couple of hours getting his sillies out in a turnout paddock. I told myself I’d get some writing done while he was outside, but instead I ended up just watching him play.

I put him on the lunge line after he was tacked up, about thirty minutes before our lesson. I like to be on Raglan early so that we have time to get warmed up and are 100% ready to get started when TrainerM arrives. As a broke amateur, nothing is worse than a lesson that’s wasted because I have to get off in the middle of it to lunge my stupid hot horse. I take that hour of instruction time seriously.

His warmup went fab. I’ve started cantering him earlier in our warm up. I was worried that introducing the canter too early would just get him revved up, but instead it really helps him settle down and get to work.

Now that I’m back on a weekly schedule, I’ve started lessoning with one of the younger students. She and I get along super well, plus we both ride OTTBs (her family’s horse is Raglan’s neighbor!) and are jumping similar heights. It’s nice to have someone to trade off with so that I can take walk breaks LOL.

TrainerM asked us what we wanted to work on. My new lesson buddy wanted to do flatwork, but I really want to focus in on more jumping. I thought about our flatwork, though, and I knew I also wanted to improve the bounce in Raglan’s right lead canter to help with his right to left lead changes. TrainerM started pulling out cavaletti and I think that made us both happy.

The goal was to make it through without swapping leads. Raglan’s right shoulder tends to drop, which means that to keep that shoulder up I had to hold tightly to my right rein. The first few times we went through I was doing so much work that I felt like I was micro-managing, but he quickly became more self-reliant, softer, and willing to be adjusted. For now TrainerM wants me to focus on keeping him off of that rein when we’re on the right lead and keeping his neck very straight when we’re on the left lead.

Our right lead walk to canter transitions suffer from the same problem. It doesn’t matter if I push his hip in towards the inside if I can’t get him off of my right rein so that his right shoulder has the space to take the lead. Being aware that this is a shoulder problem has made it easier for me to school these.

Raglan was spicy side during our lesson, though not to the point where his energy wasn’t constructive. We had a couple of small moments of snark when he knocked cavaletti over (boy howdy does he hate making mistakes), then one big moment of snark when he landed with his hind end missing on the right lead. I grounded myself in the saddle and REALLY felt my outside hip sink down into the right position, like I was connected straight through his body. It was electric! I slid my leg back, pushed my calf in, and

He turned into a snot and tried to buck me off! 😂

He’s so handsome, but also SUCH A BUTT. I love him.

Hoping that we’ll get to see some grid action in next week’s lesson!

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