May 2, 2008
So, Nova had his very first lesson with Diane today. I lunged him a bit first, just to make sure he wasn't feeling broncy (haha, as if!). He started off listening really well, but got a bit excited after the first canter, but I got his attention again and we finished up the lunging on a good note. He wasn't paying a ton of attention to Rhythm, which was nice.
I then put on the sidepull and mounted. He stood perfectly while I adjusted my stirrups and wiggled around a bit. From there... I can say that he's a fantastic follower. He didn't really clue in (or was really playing the lazy card) that bumping and clucking meant to walk ahead. When Diane would jog ahead to make him listen to me (ie. I'm asking him to turn, instead of him following Diane in the turn) he actually felt like he wanted to jog ahead to catch up with her. I do have to say I was a little bit disappointed that he didn't really 'learn' more today, but I'm also very happy that he was relaxed with everything that was going on.
A couple short clips:
May 11, 2008
Today was another fantastic day with Nova! I first thought about maybe just having Mom ground drive him, which she did, but instead, I actually got on and rode him again.
Instead of using the sidepull, I decided that he has to get used to the bit, so wore that. He was easy to bridle as I just did the 'hold and wait' until he decided to take it. It worked out well, and he took the bit without a problem after thinking about it for a minute. Mom then ground drove him around the yard again, and after his 'I don't wanna walk ahead' start (like usual) he settled into it and was really good. Mom complimented him again saying that he's picked it up really fast. Even jokingly said that we could hook him up to the cart he was that good.
I decided that since he was behaving so well I'd get on and work with him. I used the western saddle this time, and he didn't even blink when I went to throw that on him (instead of the tiny english saddle). He stood good to be mounted (I just had Matthew stand at his head, but not holding him). We then followed Matthew around the yard. I needed his help to give a tug on the halter a couple times when Nova got 'stuck' and didn't want to walk forward. But he was much better at walking ahead when I asked. Then Mom offered to hop on Rhythm bareback and see if Nova would follow her. So, we actually went down the driveway, around the circle, and up to our neighbours driveway before heading back up. We did well up until we were going up the hill to our neighbours - a car passed us and he spooked a little. I knew he was going to do that (I could feel him getting tense), but he only jumped ahead a stride or two. Next time I'll make sure to turn him so he can see the vehicle coming. And then not 30 seconds after that, our neigbours dog decided to run through the pasture to the fence. Nova spooked again, but actually stopped when I pulled on the reins (it helped that Rhythm's butt was right infront of us). We waited a minute, then turned and walked back down to our driveway. He got a bit stubborn right before the driveway (stopped and didn't want to go anymore), but I got him going and up we went. He was really awesome!
May 12, 2008
Today was another highly successful day with Nova. Though, no surprise there. They pretty much all are!
We decided that we'd take him down to the arena and ride him. He stood very nicely for me to tack him up. I didn't even need anyone there to hold his head while I put my western saddle on. He doesn't usually move when I go to do this, but I do like to have someone there sometimes to stop him if he does, so it doesn't become a habit. And when I went to bridle him, he only had to think for a few seconds before he opened his mouth and took the bit. Progress!!
He led down to the arena fine, and was plenty interested when we arrived and our neighbour was down riding one of her morgans. Nova thought the mare was pretty cute. And our neighbour (we took Nova to her place to be gelded) was very surprised at how big he is. Thankfully when I led him around the arena for a couple minutes he wasn't very distracted by the mare. I mounted him all by myself this time as well (though I did have him facing Matthew who was sitting on the fence), but he stood like a statue for that. When I asked him to move out he did so really well. And we actually had a couple of minutes where he didn't even try to stop on me. But alas, he was doing so well, I asked him to whoa... And then, well, walking became a wee bit of a challenge. We did have a couple times when he didn't want to walk forward at all (over by his 'sticky area', ie. Matthew on the fence) but I had Mom grab the halter and he'd easily follow Rhythm. I think I might try my dressage whip the next time because he knows what I want, he's just being a bit stubborn, so if I back up my walk ahead cue with something that he understands and doesn't like, perhaps he'll be more inclined to listen to the first cue.
Anyway, right before I finished with him I managed to get a bit of a trot out of him. Only four or five strides before I asked him to halt, but he did well. It wasn't enough of a trot to tell if he's going to be really smooth or not. I then had him walk ahead, stop, and back up a few steps before dismounting.
I was really pleased with how well he behaved. He definitely isn't one to get overly excited about much, which is really nice.
May 16, 2008
Tonight was Nova's second lesson with Diane. We were a bit rushed tacking up for the lesson (supper took longer than planned), but Nova was a champ. I didn't bother to tie him up, and instead just brushed him and tacked him up while he was eating grass. He didn't even blink when I put the pads and the saddle on. I'm very happy he isn't trying to move around - I hate when they get that habit.
Mom ponied him off of Rhythm to the arena for me, and he did okay. He lagged behind a bit, but soon remembered how to walk a bit faster to keep up with her. Once we got to the arena I bridled him, and he was perfect. Pretty much took the bit instantly! Yessss! After leading him around for a moment I mounted again by myself with no one by his head. He stood like a rock! He doesn't even get unbalanced while I'm getting up, which actually surprises me a bit considering he's all legs and skinny.
Right when I was about to start walking with him our neighbour came into view leading her mare down, and Nova got pretty excited about that. To the point of forgetting I was up there for a minute. I had to have Mom ride over and grab his halter and lead us away from the gate so our neighbour could come in. After standing for a minute to regain our composure we started to walk around. He did pretty well following (but not right behind, we had a few horse lengths between us) Mom and Rhythm. I could feel that he was listening to me and not totally following Rhythm. He even did really well about ignoring Tika (neighbour's mare) who was being lunged in the other end and was trotting or cantering around. But of course after a bit he decided he'd had enough of this 'riding business' and hit the brakes. Diane came up and gave him a little swat on the butt once to get us going, but when he did it again I had Mom ride over and grab my dressage whip.
He's figured out that my legs don't hurt/aren't effective enough to make him move when he doesn't want too. So once I got the whip, I would ask him to walk on, and when he refused I would ask again and then gave him the tiniest tap with the whip. It was just a very tiny tap, but it worked like a charm and after a bit of a flinch he walked off. I did have to use it a few more times, but every time was just a very light tap and off he was moving. I even noticed that a few times he'd go to stop and I'd add my leg and he'd keep walking.
ETA: I just remembered that during one of my taps with the whip he decided to break into a trot. I let him go a few strides before asking him to slow back down to a walk. It seems like his trot is going to be fairly smooth.
Not only were we walking, but we were also turning circles! Diane had a huge (think entire arena) figure-8 type pattern set out with plyons and I worked on getting him to walk between the plyons. Mostly on the far end of the arena to stay away from Tika being lunged, but towards the end we were walking around the outside of her end and even doing smaller 'circles' in the middle of the figure-8. I noticed that towards the end some of our smaller circles actually had somewhat of a circle shape to them. Or at least part of a nice circle. We didn't always make it between the pylons, which was definitely a steering issue on my part. I do have to remember to keep my eyes up and watching where I'm going, as well as remembering to not drop my hands when asking for a circle.
All in all, I was SUPER proud of the progress we made tonight!! By the end he was even chewing on the bit less - yay. My boy is sure smart when he wants to be!
No pics or video from the lesson, my photographer(s) were either riding or were late arriving. I'm definitely going to try and get some from either next week or our next lesson.
May 19, 2008
After two days off I decided today was nice and sunny and perfect for another ride. As I was tacking up Nova (again he was loose and just munching on grass) Mom and I were commenting on how well behaved he was for it all. I guess it means that we haven't made being tacked up/ridden a bad thing for him, which I'm very happy about. Now, it a little while he might clue in a bit more and start to anticipate what the saddle means.
I led him down to the arena again, and I am happy to say that he is leading a lot better than he was last fall/winter. The jogging ahead is gone and he is a lot more respectful. I do have to work about getting him to walk just a few more inches away from me so he's not crowding, though.
Today, instead of of putting the bridle over his halter, I took his halter off and just put the bridle on (complete with noseband this time). Bridled like a champ, so I think I can say that our bridling issues have officially been solved. And again he stood perfectly still for me to mount. I also noticed that he never stumbles sideways or seems off balance when I go to get on (and I'm not 'preparing' him before I mount). This is pretty impressive, I think. I'm making a point of standing for a minute or two before walking off so as to make sure he never gets in the habit of taking off right when I get on. This is pretty easy though, since he's never in a hurry to get moving!
Today was a pretty successful ride. We walked all around the arena, then did some large circles and some smaller circles, walked past the gate/Matthew area without stopping, etc. I even walked up the centerline and quarterlines with him... We were very far from straight! It's like trying to control a soggy spaghetti noodle. But I suppose considering how very few rides he has on him it wasn't too bad. I did have to use the whip a couple of times because he got stubborn about going forward, but I was still pleased with how much more responsive to my leg he was. We even trotted a few times. He's only comfortable with about 6-10 strides before he breaks back down to a walk, and I'm okay with that. The first time I started to post his trot he did the slight speed up ("what the heck??") but then slowed down and a then stopped after a few more strides.
After our ride in the arena I decided that he was good enough that he could pack my butt home. It's totally different when you step outside of the arena on a greenie. One, he has a bit more motivation (grass and going home) and two... No fences to stop you! He was really good though. Stood nicely while Mom battled with Rhythm, so I let him eat a bit of grass before he became frustrated. When we first started off it seemed like he was going to be a bit spunky, but he actually settled into a semi-decent walk (read: definitely faster than the pitiful one in the arena) and we followed Rhythm home. He didn't seem too impressed with going up the huge hill and then our driveway, though. He did break into a trot a couple times coming down the hill to the end of our driveway, but was easy to get back to a walk.
After untacking, giving him his goodies, and brushing him down I had some pictures taken of him. Here's the best one of the bunch, I figure.