Sunday, 26 October 2008

Clocks go Back

Another couple of weeks have passed and Santana makes progress all the time. Most of our work is still trotting - large circles, small circles and figures of eight to encourage him to listen to me. We have short bursts of canter when the ground is dry enough for him not to slip. Otherwise we go into the field and have a canter or two along the straight. I've not been working him hard, 20 - 30 minutes at a time is enough. He has a lot of maturing to do so I don't want to make him work too hard at the moment.

Another milestone that we have managed is to canter over the log. He has done a proper jump over it which was lovely. At least I know he can jump. He needs to sort out his legs as he doesn't really know what to do with them at the moment. That will come with practice.

We have been out round the roads a couple of times which has been fine. He doesn't seem to be worried by traffic. We had a scary moment when he spotted something in the nettles beside the farm track and we ended up in the nettles over the other side of the track because I wasn't paying attention. So we went backwards and forwards past the spot several times until he wasn't worried about it any more.

I took his headcollar off in the field today, so he is now naked! I hope he catches next time I go out there!

I must take some more photos.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

First Jump!

Another good week of riding. Santana is making progress and every day he gets a little better.

We reached two milestones today:- One - I managed to get on without anyone holding his head and he just stood and waited. What good manners he has! and two - we did our first jump! Okay, it was only a log on the ground, but it was a jump all the same.

He's still heavy in my hands around the circle, but I'm sure he'll lighten up with time.

I love him to bits! Trouble is, I'm thinking that maybe things shouldn't be going quite so well, maybe something is going to go wrong at some point. But, no, those are just negative thoughts, banish them from my mind. My horse is gorgeous.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Another week has passed and Santana has been gradually doing a little more each day. He had a day off on Saturday as it is riding club day and there are just not enough hours in the day. Sunday was pouring with rain, but we battled through the elements and had a good forty five minutes of riding. Unfortunately we don't have an indoor school or an all weather surface so it was a tad muddy. We weren't able to canter in the mud as he was slip sliding about just trotting. We did manage a canter along the straight side of the field though.

I am now able to mount using the stirrup and he doesn't bat an eyelid. How laid back is that?!

On Monday we started off on our own for the first time, ie. without a leader to follow. He was a bit perplexed by this and it took him a few circuits of the circle to settle down. But he was fine after a while. Today (Tuesday), he didn't even want to come in from the field. He stopped at the gate and wouldn't budge. It took a bit of persuasion and the assistance of a carrot to encourage him out of the field. He had changed his mind by the time I had tacked up though and was in a better frame of mind. Today he felt much more relaxed and I felt we had made progress.

I feel as though he is very heavy in my hands at the moment. I'm hoping that as his training progresses he will lighten up in front. It's rather like driving a car without power steering. Also, if he's spooked by something he doesn't take any notice of the bit and is very hard to pull up, whereas if we are just walking or trotting along he'll stop in an instant. Again, hopefully this will improve as he understands more.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

So, now we are not on a lead and are going it alone. I am still getting on by having a leg up and someone covering his eye, although he is very accepting of everything and I'm sure when I mount using the stirrup he will be fine.

This week I had my first canter on him. He wasn't sure what to do at first and just trotted very fast for half a circuit before breaking into canter. Boy, he has such a long stride! I can see his front legs thrown out in front of him with each stride. He really covers the ground.

I took him round the circle completely on his own while my daughter took her pony over some jumps. He was quite wary and looking at everything around him but still listened to my voice and continued moving forward. Even when my daughter's pony cantered past he just sidestepped and carried on as before. What a good boy!
So, we returned to Santana's training in September 2008. This was when I first rode him. He is still on the lunge and learning what is expected of him. He is a little confused at first but, after a couple of weeks, he is getting used to moving forward and listening to voice commands.

We had one minor hiccup when whilst following another pony around the circle he spooked at the pony's tail swishing, lost his footing and slipped over, dumping me on the ground. We were both unhurt and unfazed and remounting, carried on but this time we kept the lead pony at a respectful distance. My first fall from my new horse!

Next stage is to come off the lunge and, being led with a rope, follow a rider on a pony. The lead pony was chosen carefully as Santana had proved not to like being flicked in the face with a tail! Billy was the obvious choice as he is a very experienced and sensible lead pony. We love Billy! Santana seemed to be quite keen on him too and followed along beside him like an old hand.

At this point we had another minor hiccup when a calf, who was in the paddock with his mother as she was being picked on by the rest of the herd, thought it would be a good idea to charge at the young horse to see what mischief he could create. Santana wasn't impressed with the naughty calf and made off at a canter in the other direction, yanking the lead rope out of the hands of Elby, my leader. This could have been potentially disastrous at this stage of his training, but I talked to him and told him to whoa and fortunately, he did. He stood still while Elby came over to us and we carried on, avoiding the mischievous calf!

The next big step is to come off lead altogether and go it alone.

In the Beginning

I first saw Santana in June 2008. He was looking sorry for himself in his field having recently been turned out after having a stable all to himself for the last couple of months. However, he was not interested in making friends and made off if I came too close. He was 3 years old and was unbroken. Santana is a Welsh Cob (Section D) whose registered name is Ridgehill Ellis. (I couldn't use Ellis as a stable name as it has unfortunate connotations for me!)
In late July, he was brought in and the training began. He learnt about bridles and saddles and he learnt how to lunge. He accepted all these strange new things with good grace. Then the moment of truth - how would he take to a rider.
Surprisingly, he took everything in his stride and a rider was accepted, along with all the other new experiences. Unfortunately, due to circumstances his training was interrupted for the whole of August and it wasn't until mid September that we were able to continue.