Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

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

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Sunday Rides

Today I was super tired, so I got on Highboy bareback and hacked around in the arena a little while Jasi jumped Sam.  Then I got on Jimmy and we went for a easy ride in the back forty while Jasi jumped Beauty over some logs.  I feel so fortunate to have this amazing place to ride and live.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Saturday Jumping

Today Kimberly Hale Photography took photos of Jasi and I riding.  We're hoping to be able to open up the barn to boarders and riding lessons on a limited, scheduled basis next week, but in the meantime the horses are being kept busy!

Jasi rode Beauty and had a great jump school.  Because Beauty was jumping so quietly and confidently over the gymnastic grids, towards the end of the ride Jasi took her through a bounce with pretty large crossrails, and then topped off the good ride with a good sized orange oxer.

While Jasi was on Beauty I rode Silver.  He went well, but he's really ready for some larger fences and some gymnastic footwork.  To improve his form and technique he needs to jump up and push off with his hind end a bit more, rather than taking the long, lope-y strides over these small fences.  I do need to balance his training progression however, because I want to make sure adding power doesn't overwhelm his rhythm and steadiness.  It's a balancing act, especially with a client horse.  I have good fun when I can ride them and they get progressively more athletic, but I want to make sure that he's still very steady and confident for his owner since the main goal is that she is able enjoy riding him herself.

I include this last photo of Silver to show how sensitive he is to his rider.  Notice how he and I have exactly the same expression on our faces and are doing the same things with our mouths.  This is why I'm so careful with how I use my body, because the horse will do whatever I'm doing.  If my jaw and tongue are tense, so are his.  To get him to soften and relax his mouth, I must do just that with mine.

Jimmy also came out to ride today.  He wasn't quite as supple and loose as he's been in previous rides, and it was more noticeable when tracking right.  He's not sore or lame, just not moving as nicely as I know he can.  We still had a decent ride and added in a couple crossrails.  I have to remember he's only been here seven weeks, and while he looks well muscled and is at a nice weight, it takes a long time to gently strengthen all the soft tissue structures we've been addressing.

It makes sense he's just not yet at a point where he can do more intense workouts at faster gaits.  I think we'll spend the coming week returning to some long walks in the back to see if we can get him to loosen up and stretch out.  He has the idea now of cantering quietly on each lead and hopping over crossrails, so there's no need to drill the exercises.  Cruising around on a loose rein up and down hills will be just the thing for him to relax and continue to strengthen the appropriate muscles.

Ferriana had a blast today as well.  She was one of the many horses who had dental work done a week or so ago, and it is incredible how big a difference balanced teeth make.  Prior to her dental she wasn't misbehaving, she just was really struggling with picking up her left lead, and holding her right lead at the canter.  I also had noticed a very mild head tilt when she was tracking left, and hesitancy to stretch forward and down into the bridle.

The dental made all the difference.  Today she had absolutely no problem picking up the left lead, she held her right lead consistently, there was no head tilt at all, and we were able to work over a crossrail on a twenty meter circle at the canter both directions with no difficulty.  Cantering on a circle that size wasn't possible for her prior to the dental, but now she can do it with ease and even add in a jump.  Hooray for good dental work and thank you to Dr. Landes with Equine Medical Services for the attention to detail and helping our horses be their absolute athletic best!

This next strip of photos shows one of Ferriana's green horse moments.  Most of the time she looks totally in control and balanced, but every once in a while we have an "oh dear" fence.  This occurred when we were jumping down a diagonal line, and she wasn't sure which fence came next.  I kept on looking where we were supposed to go, and she got it sorted out, but it was pretty comical.

After that was ironed out I let her pop over the orange oxer.  She jumped it too big - notice she cleared the 4' standards, but learning to jump the fence at the accurate height will come with more experience.  At least we know she's got the upper level talent, and she doesn't hesitate to remind us.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Jimmy's First Jumps

Jimmy originally came to me for rehab and training, and we've been working slowly but surely towards building the skill set, muscles, and balance he will need to do some eventing.  He definitely has the brain for the horse triathlon, he is super willing, eager to please, and likes to think through different exercises. 

His dressage is coming along nicely.  He's developed enough strength in his core and haunches to start a little jumping!  We're doing all this in the good footing in the arena and we stop before he gets fatigued.  This ensures we quit while he's still enjoying himself and before he gets frustrated.  He knows what he's supposed to do now, and you can tell he's trying really hard to do it right and he's a little stronger every day. 

Yesterday I added a little bit of jumping to his workout.  He's been going over cavalletti since he arrived, so we started with a series of poles to trot over.  Once he was thoroughly warmed up I raised the center poles to a crossrail and we trotted over that.  Rizzo was in her element, she ran around barking and cheering in excitement, racing over the poles and crossrail in front of us to show Jimmy what to do.  As soon as she had landed after the crossrail she would spin around to watch Jimmy take his turn.

We only went over the poles and crossrail a few times each direction, and we did it all on a very loose rein.  That lets Jimmy use his neck for balance over the jump and keeps him calm on the approach and landing.  Because he raced for so long and was so good at it, he's well versed in going heavy on the forehand and using the rider for balance by leaning on the reins.  In transitioning him to sporthorse riding it's important to ride him on a loose rein so that he has nothing to brace against.  Without the crutch of leaning on the reins he will use his own body for balance. 

Jimmy has such a nice mind that I think he'll be game to try anything in his after-the-racetrack life.  His training has been steady and he's progressed at a pace which allows him to gradually gain the strength he'll need for his job.  I am eager to see what he's able to do as he continues to build strength and takes on new tasks!