HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!! Who has eaten too much festive food!? I know I have!
Toby on the other hand is looking very slim; 458kg on weigh tape to be precise, probably the slimmest he’s ever been! His work load has increased and becoming more technical with more lateral work. I’ve also been very strict with treats (ZERO!) and monitoring his grass/hay/feed intake, which all seems to be working. Next challenge will be to keep him slim during the Spring/Summer months. Thankfully I have a very understanding yard, and they have allocated me a small, rough grassed paddock for him as summer turnout. Rather than one of the bigger fields like he previously had. If need be, I’ll put extra hay out for him. This just means I can monitor his intake better & reduce the risk of laminitis reoccurring.
Now I have a plan, we can start looking to the year ahead. We’ve got lots planned for the year ahead, along with new riding techniques & lots more.
Lots to look forward to this year. We already have a clinic booked in May! This will be our first outing where we will be staying away!
The clinic is training for Trail work and will feature plenty of poles and obstacles that we may come across at a competition. We plan to arrive at the venue the day before. Allowing Toby to get use to the new surrounding and arena. The following day we will probably be having our session in the afternoon, meaning the morning I can sit and watch the more experienced horses/riders.
Until then my trainer has been helping us prepare for the clinic. The last thing we want when we arrive is not being able to get Toby to do basic movements such as backing up, moving sideways and generally being able to move his body other than just forwards.
Over the winter period, as mentioned above, my trainer has been helping me learn how to move Toby sideways correctly (stepping across with his feet, rather than shuffling).
To start with, whenever I try to teach Toby something new, he always has to have a discussion about it… being an Appaloosa cross, it doesn’t surprise me! He will always answer any questions I ask him with “why should I?”, which is then normally followed by stamping feet.
To teach him sideways movement (the starting process of teaching side pass) I make him face a wall or fence. I hold my reins with a slight contact, and form a triangle; hands far apart, about level with my knees. Keeping an even contact will help keep Toby’s head straight, and just correcting when I need too, with simple “bumps” down the rein.
If I want to move right to left, I take my left leg completely off Toby’s sides. With my right leg I push it onto his rib cage. No kicking or on-off action, the leg needs to stay on his side, and use my leg pressure to “push” him over. The moment he steps sideways, even one step, I take my leg off, release my contact and let him “rest”. This is his reward.
Obviously, in true Toby style, it wasn’t that easy to start with. We had a discussion about it, and a few stamps of the feet, but eventually he got it. Then the more I asked the better he got. A couple of days later, I asked the question again, and he was even better, and instantly knew what to do.
The more exercises I do like this, and the more control I have of each part of his body (quarters, ribcage and shoulders) the more “broke” he becomes. This basically means the more willing and responsive he is the cues.
This month I wanted to show how some horses are presented in western classes. English showing you generally have 3 basic categories;
In western riding much of a horse’s turn out is dependent on what class they are doing. Normally anything fast like barrel racing, cutting or reining, the mane and tail is left long and natural.
Anything like Showmanship, Horsemanship and Western Pleasure, the tail is left natural, and the mane is normally banded.
Banding is a little like plaiting, in that you section the mane off in small, neat sections, but instead of plaiting, you banded it like a pony tail. The mane must lay flat and the bands be level. Some people put white bands in with a black mane as a contrast.
The tail although left natural, can have extensions put in, to make it appear thicker and longer, especially if your horse has quite a thin tail (like Toby).
Emma has been riding for 20+ years. She started off riding dressage, with a small amount of jumping. With Toby at her side she’s been building up her confidence in riding again after loosing it a few years ago. She & Toby are hoping to get out to some western shows this year. She also works full time, plus run a business with her partner and enjoys modifying cars and attending car shows.