Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC
Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Introducing Jimmy

This week we have a new off-track Thoroughbred who arrived here for rehab and training. His name is Jimmy, and he raced in Florida until he was eight.  He's a super cute chestnut (I can already hear people exclaiming "oh good, I'll be able to tell this one apart from all the bays!") with white stockings.  He's been with the same owner since he came off the track about a year ago, and he was super fortunate to land with her.  She has been very thorough in caring for him during his letdown, including gelding him, having correct dental work done, and assessing and treating his "racing jewelry" so that he is looking pretty good now that he's ready to begin sporthorse training.

Jimmy has a white blaze down his face, with a little crescent moon over his right eye.  While it can't be seen in these two headshots, he also has a "kiss here" spot on his upper lip.

Jimmy and I worked together a little bit today, as a first getting-to-know-you session.  He's been an absolute pleasure to have around the barn so far, and he continued in the same vein today.  I tied him at the horse trailer to groom him, and the first thing he did was take pause to admire himself in the side of the mirrored trailer.  Often horses argue with their reflections when they first see themselves, but Jimmy merely waggled his eyebrows at himself and then settled in to munch on his hay bag.  I gave him a thorough grooming and inspected him nose to tail, and found that he's in pretty good shape.  He needs some muscling, but that's why he came to Bit of Honey.

Once he was cleaned up I brought out the parade of tack to see what would fit him best for this first training session.  I tried a few different saddles on Jimmy, and ended up with a dressage saddle that I purchased for Note, but I don't like how it feels when I ride him in it.  However, it must sit balanced differently on Jimmy than on Note, because I really didn't like it when I rode Note in it but I totally forgot the saddle while riding Jimmy.  For me that's the mark of a great saddle fit, when I don't notice the saddle at all.

After checking his teeth, which looked good, I put the bridle on Jimmy that came with him.  It's a french link snaffle on a Micklem headstall.  He did toss his head some when I first put the bit in his mouth, but I explained that if he doesn't like it to just let me know and I'll change it, and he then got very quiet.  I fastened the straps on the bridle leaving two fingers width between the leather and his face so there was no pressure being applied, and we headed down to the arena with Pascal the border collie.

Jimmy was so quiet for tacking and so mannerly walking away from the other horses that I took him to the arena instead of the round pen.  We walked around in the indoor for a while so he could look at all the toys I've accumulated on the side of the wall, and while he found them interesting he was more far more motivated to lie down to roll in the nice soft sand footing.  He made it to his knees, but unfortunately for him this is not allowed if you're wearing a saddle.  When I shouted once and hustled to get him back up before doing any damage to the tack he immediately stood again, and looked at me with a slightly bashful expression as if to apologize and say that the other horses hadn't told him about that rule yet.

I did a little lunging each direction with Pascal loudly encouraging Jimmy (Jimmy totally ignored the puppy antics).  He was going to the right to start and when he picked up the trot he had some odd movement in his hind end.  I had him change directions and he looked fine going to the left.  I switched back and he looked fine to the right the second time.  This fits with the medical history I have on him, and currently we're hoping that it's just needing strength training behind.

Jimmy was polite, stood quietly for mounting, and didn't seem phased by me adjusting stirrup lengths once aboard.  We walked around some, and then picked up a trot.  He liked the saddle and moved well in it, even trying to lift his back and stretch out his topline some.  The rhythm was consistent and while I did occasionally feel a bobble in the hind end, particularly in down transitions (again fitting the medical history) mostly he felt stable.

I had a friend with me who was able to take some video, and it's interesting to see how his posture changes from the beginning to the end of the short video.  In this still taken from the video at the beginning you can see that while his legs are in the same position as in other photos, he is carrying his weight very much on his forehand and not reaching up underneath himself with his hind leg.  I've added lines to show how his withers are lower than his haunches, and that his hind leg is touching down behind the back of the saddle pad.

In this photo from the end of the video, you can see Jimmy is less heavy on his forehand, and the horizontal line is less dramatically tipped forward.  The line showing his hind foot landing is now just behind the saddle, which is a much bigger step with the hind than in the first photo.

It's a small difference, but a change in the correct direction with regards to posture and using his core muscles!  Jimmy is shaping up to be a super fun project with a willing personality, I forsee many long walks in the back forty cruising up and down hills in his future.  Butt muscles for everyone!

Here is the short video in full:

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