Tuesday, April 17, 2018

To PRO or not to PRO?

I'm just going to start blogging again like I haven't been the worst blogger in history (ahem, my last post was a month ago)... but I moved my horse, and bought a house and that's enough with excuses!

Scout has settled in beautifully at his new farm that is THREE miles from my new house. Having him so close feels like such a luxury and I'm feeling quite spoiled about just being able to pop down to see him even if just for a few minutes. It's also taken a lot of pressure over what we do each ride so his life feels more varied and less stressful in my opinion.

You could say he likes his new farm just a little bit:)
So with the weather starting to settle down (if you can call 83 degrees Saturday and 50 and thunderstorms today settling down) -- I'm starting to look ahead at what the year might hold for us training wise.

And with all horse planning, I've been cautiously optimistic because literally anytime I set money aside for any sort of training/showing purposes the shit hits the fan (I'm looking at you NYE emergency vet call). So naturally just as I reach out to an UL rider for training my truck's transmission starts slipping. But this is not a post about that.

Getting the basics solidified
I'm a decent rider. I can ride a green horse and teach it to walk, trot, canter, leg yield, go on the bit and jump little things.  But beyond that, I want the building blocks to be rock solid. I have loose goals that I'd like to achieve. Scout is athletic and has a wonderful attitude, he's brave and willing. He's a big, bay ball of clay waiting to be molded into an event horse and I want to it to be done right. Because when I take him to an event I want to feel like we are BOTH well prepared.

When we had our short stint over in South Jersey he was being ridden fairly regularly by a wonderful event trainer who gave me some serious words of wisdom after she jumped him the first time. She said, "Don't get greedy... he's nice, he's got the brain and the athleticism, but it would be easy to do too much too quickly, go slow." And you know what, it really struck a chord in me.

So here we are after a winter of intentional and not-so-intentional slow going. Lots of tiny legos being pieced together to build him up to where he needs to be to tackle the next step. Lots of long walk warm ups, lots of doing 100 transitions per ride, you know, boring stuff. So when it came to getting him going over fences in earnest, I decided it would be well worth my money to invest in some training rides with a professional who primarily works with young TBs. I want him to feel confident and comfortable and to be rateable and bold.

I took him over to a big fancy indoor for a test ride to see how they paired up and she just LOVED him. She walked him around under saddle so he could check everything out (including himself in the mirrors) and warmed him up on the flat. She figured out his asymmetry pretty quickly and worked to block his un-eveness at the walk which helped him stay straight and balanced in the trot and canter. It's these types of nuanced fixes that make me feel like my money is being well spent. I get to see how someone more skilled that me can zero in on little things and figure out the best way to unlock him. She trotted him over a little vertical once or twice and quickly moved onto to cantering everything. Keep in mind, he's jumped maybe 4 times under saddle before this!

Cantering the vertical the first time:)
And what she was able to do, that I know I couldn't do nearly as well, is help him stay balanced and straight to the jumps, leaving at an appropriate spot and landing in rhythm. Sounds simple enough, right?

I want jumping to be fun for him and for it to all feel easy.

Weeeee! First square oxer!

This ended up as a wide X in the end

Scary waves are NBD
She let him see everything first and took her time introducing him to the liverpool even though he didn't care at all. He seems to understand the idea of lifting his legs and getting to the other side.


When we finished up, she concluded that she was dying to do more with him because he's just so KEEN, and yes... she'd take us on as clients:)

A week later (truck fixed with rebuilt transmission) I took him to the barn that she primarily trains out of for a follow up session. He unloaded, took a look around and I tacked him up for her. She got right down to business warming him up for 10-15 minutes at the walk getting him to keep his hind quarters aligned and to keep the contact and throughness in his upward transitions. She really got him stepping under himself so nicely, which paid off in the canter work. She started this time by cantering him over a cavaletti in both directions while holding him accountable for a good canter.



He did try to go around the cavaletti once when he got there with a bit of a bad canter, but man if she didn't hold the outside aids and he STILL jumped.

Again, she let him look at all fill on the jumps and touch the barrel with his nose, but then she just jumped him around like he's been doing it forever. What was really cool was seeing he rebalance him after the jumps, if he got a bit too keen she'd make a adjustment and then leave him alone, sort of an exaggerated half halt and he'd come right back into balance.


just SO cute


!!!!!
My favorite part was when she said she going to canter over the barrel one more time on the right lead and I see her heading to the two stride. He just boldly jumped in and out and even though the second jump caught him a little by surprise she brought him right back around and he jumped through like a pro. She stopped and said, "he just felt so good and the canter was so balanced I figured why not?"





What I am learning is that my horse is bold and keen, he wants to get to the other side. He doesn't really know what he's doing which is why I have utilized the help of a pro to get him feeling like a superstar over fences. I want him to jump out of balance, and even though she makes him look super easy, I know that my greenness would not help him at this stage in his training. She'll continue to jump him at a higher level then me for awhile so that the whole thing just becomes quite boring for him.

But seeing him go with a pro on board makes me VERY excited about the future. My goals are quite modest and I know that if I can get him happy, sound and comfortable mentally, I'll be well on my way to achieving them. Better yet, I'm able to get real time feedback about where he's at in his training. Where the holes are and the types of things I should work on during my rides with him.

I want him to feel this confident every time he jumps:)
So what say you bloggers? To PRO or not to PRO? Do you find value in having a professional school your horse, or do you prefer to do all the training yourself? Why or why not? I know the answers for this vary wildly and I'm so curious to hear your opinions. Meanwhile, we'll be over here on the slow boat to BN, one jump at a time.


19 comments:

  1. New house!? Congrats! My OTTB has two training rides a week by a professional and I can tell you that my rides on her are getting a LOT better. I wouldn't have gotten a completely green horse without a trainer backing me up. Love Scout's eagerness to the jumps!

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    1. Yes! I'll have to post about the house soon. It's my absolute dream house! I'm really excited about his attitude regarding jumping:)

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  2. He is SUPER nice! I think it's really smart (and the mark of an educated rider) to let a pro get on at key times in a horse's development. Everyone comes out better in the end.

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    1. Aw! Thank you for the kind comment about Scout. I think he's going to be really cool. Yea, I think my money is being well spent in a once a week training ride to build his confidence and balance. It can only help me in the long run! And, it might not be forever, but I think establishing a good relationship with a trainer like this makes it easier to then have tune ups down the road:)

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  3. I’m all about having professional help! Just depends on the horse and your skills and how that combination works out if I would get help from a pro to ride my horse or to watch me ride my horse… but a professional would be there either way! (If that makes sense)

    Glad you found someone you like so much! You’re going to have so much fun with Scout with all his new fancy knowledge!!!!

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    1. Yes! Eyes on the ground are great too! It's interesting because one of the issues I have with Scout is that he really wants to go wit his hind quarters tracking in... I've been struggling ways to get him to swing his butt back out and trainer was like, Oh, I just control his shoulders, it's much less work and he can't fight it as easily! Light bulb!

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  4. He looks wonderful! It sounds like you found a good Pro to keep in yours and Scout's corner!

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    1. Thanks! Yea she's great. She's run at the two star level and trained all her own horses from the ground up!

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  5. That's so awesome! I wish I had access to a trusted pro to put rides on my girls. I know I'm doing them a disservice by not being as knowledgeable as they need to truly reach their potential (not that they care, haha). Scout looks SO CONFIDENT in those photos, I love it. So excited for both you and him!

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    1. Well, I highly doubt you're doing them a disservice (I think you're a super nice rider and your horses look awesome). Ha! You're so right about them reaching their potential... I'm sure a lot of people would think I am wasting Scout by only having goals of BN, but he doesn't care!

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  6. I'm definitely soaking up the pro rides right now and it's doing us a world of good.

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    1. Yes! And I love watching my horse being ridden, so it's a win-win.

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  7. Aw he looks wonderful! Ain’t nothin wrong with letting a pro have the ride if you have the inclination and the means for it! Personally I’ve tended to do all my own riding bc I really enjoy the process and don’t like to share my toys. Plus I don’t necessarily need my horse to know exactly *how bad* some of my habits really are. Like. For all Charlie knows, all my mistakes are just the way life is. I don’t need some pro to get on him and tell him all my secrets by riding actually correctly LOL (kidding obvi, sorta). Seriously tho pro rides are basically like investing in the horse, and sometimes it’s nice to let the pros get through the thing better and faster than we would ourselves. Esp if we don’t feel great about our own ability to get through it.

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    1. I mean, I can do all these things with him, but the journey would be more bumpy and less confidence inspired for both of us I think. I am hoping that by building confidence and balance in him, that my riding mistakes will be less impactful. Ultimately, he has to tolerate his far-from-perfect owner and have a sense of humor and some tolerance under saddle. Ha!

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  8. i consider myself a better than average rider and ive had a LOT of pro rides, on both my horses. runkle definitely had more. but I think both he and indy benefited. funnily enough... my trainer kinda refused to jump indy... I think because she didn't think she was in good enough shape and he tended to jump TO THE MOON. she was like yeah you can have that.

    But i love my trainer rides for a couple of reasons:

    1. I like the horse to be in super consistent work. and my life is super inconsistent. I love being at a barn where i can text my trainer and be like "I cant come out today, can you hop on my horse?" and shes normally like OMG YES THANKS

    2. I feel like it helps my lessons so much. She knows exactly what things feel like and what we need to work on. She also can figure out whats the HORSE and whats me (which helped us get to the root of indys crookedness/soundness immensely)

    3. I like having a pro tell me what a great job I've done and how great my horse is :P :P :P

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    1. Haha, yea the whole jumping to the moon this is real dude! Scout was jumping MP out of the tack when she rode him, so that's why we dialed everything down and took things even slower. I love getting feedback from the pro about his nuances and how to help get the most of of him. Sometimes it's a simple fix that I hadn't figured out on my own! It's really nice to have someone else know what your horse "feels" like because as we all know, what we see from the ground and feel in the saddle and very, very different.

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  9. He looks SO good through everything. That two stride especially. Damn. I hope you're just the most excited EVER, 'cause I know I would be! As is, I'm the most excited FOR you! =)

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  10. What a natural he is!! He looks great and I have no qualms about pros either. I put Emily on Remus this winter and he is freaking 14 years old. But it helps so much they do this shit for a living :) I like him a lot!! I can't wait to hear how Saturday goes ;)

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  11. He is so gorgeous and talented and wonderful!! I am so thrilled he's so close to your NEW HOUSE (omg congrats!) Love all the visuals in this post. I never get tired of looking at him, and always love your IG posts :)

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