Fugi and I have been doing lots of hacking. He is now venturing further and further beyond his old comfort zone of where the other horses were. He used to very tense and not like being out of the arena on his own, but the other day we did a mile loop around the farm's property. Fugi quietly walked up and down hills, along the road, and past a herd of cows. He even went in the creek this summer! Talk about a brave OTTB! This past week I took him for his first jump lesson with Tara Ziegler. He took in the new atmosphere like an old pro, and was completely willing and game to try jumping some of Tara's jumps that he had never seen before. Flowers, blocks, an old christmas tree, even a skinny! He approached everything with eagerness and over jumped everything as if it was all too easy. He is an extremely careful jumper and I think that in time he will make a wonderful amateur or kids horse. I could have ridden him all day, he is just a pleasure to work with! One thing that Tara said that I agree with is that you can usually find a horse that is a careful jumper or brave and game to the fences, but its hard to find one that is both.
Chewy and I have been plugging away at building his strength in the canter. He has lots of power but I'd like him to be able to push more from his hind end in a bouncy way, lifting his back and keeping his body straight. He is still young and it's my job to help him develop the muscles he needs. To work on this, I have been using ground poles to canter over. I set some up on a circle, and on both diagonals and on the center line so that I can keep changing direction or circle where needed while getting the distance without getting strung out and losing his impulsion. I also will length and shorten his stride between poles. For example if he canters two poles at a comfortable canter in 7 strides, I will then shorten his canter to fit in 8 strides, then lengthen to fit in 6. It is very hard work for him, so to make sure he doesn't get burned out, I have been taking him on lots of hacks also. Chewy is a well-known hacking champion, so I usually take him out for longer hacks of 30-60 mins. I make sure to take him up and down hills lots, and on our hour hack he crosses a large creek and a ditch/stream. Water has never phased him, but I like getting him lots of casual exposure to things that he could see on x-country.
In July I took Chewy to Olde Hope Farms unrecognized horse trials and then to Fair Hill recognized horse trials. I entered him at novice (2'11") for both. Olde Hope was his second unrecognized novice level attempt. The first time I took him there he was obedient on the flat (minus bucking at horse flies) and good stadium, but had a very green xc round. It didn't help that I missed a jump and got us eliminated(Bad Ellen!). So at our second attempt there this summer we had a much better result. He had one of the best stadium rounds yet, and was much more brave xc besides a green stop at the second fence, which was a huge solid black ramp. He jumped it easily the second time and continued happily around the rest of the course.
Next I took Chewy to Fair Hill for his first recognized horse trials, and my first recognized in two and half years. We were in a tough division with all three and four-star riders, so I don't think our placing reflected how well Chewy really did. He was very obedient and quiet in the dressage, jumped his brains out stadium with one spooky rail going in to the two-stride combination, and was brilliant and brave XC, taking everything in stride just loping around the course. What a good baby horse! He is so talented I just adore him. I'd like to improve our dressage score so that I can get him the marks he deserves. Next stop - Marlboro HT & Flora Lea HT!
Enjoy the last bit of summer,