Thirty Day Check-In

The first thirty days came and went – where has the time gone? And Final Call is changing in subtle ways, from the silly little boy to – oh, who am I kidding, he’s still a silly little boy. And with that face and that kissable little white spot on his nose, he always will be to someone who loves him!

But it’s still a good time to think about milestones, and do a little mental check-in: where were we thirty days ago? And where are we now?

1. Body: His body type has lost that greyhound sleekness, that tucked-up belly that racehorses get. On the other hand, his withers are less high and sharp, as back muscle is slowly starting to fill in where before there were just hollows above his sharp shoulder blades. The saddle is fitting better, as it begins to sit higher, and I am less concerned about pinching than I was before. Initially, every time I put the saddle on his back, I was anxiously checking where it was sitting on his withers. Now it seems much more kind, and I’m not getting dumped, so that seems like a pretty good indicator!

2. Gaits: Just in lunging, it’s easy to see that he’s loosened up his shoulder and is reaching more. That’s nice. OTTBs always panic me when I first get them – their trot is always all knee action, I swear – and I’m left thinking, this horse will never perform in a dressage test! And they all loosen up eventually.

3. Riding: Let’s see, the first few rides were in a round pen, with a seriously defensive seat, head in the air, hands loose, shoulders rolled forward – not pretty. Now we have, rides out in the open paddock, serpentines and curves, bending about 90% of the time at the walk and about 50% of the time at the trot, and a sudden strong desire to travel with his nose on the ground and my hands on the buckle, wishing I had longer reins for his giraffe neck.

This seems pretty good for thirty days. I’ve heard of some people jumping in that space of time, and I’m sure that works for them, but I’m happy just to get a decent walk and trot and some transitions that aren’t me hauling on his face and him falling on his forehand. Heck, I’m happy to be out of the round pen!

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8 Comments

Filed under Dressage, Final Call, Training Diary

8 responses to “Thirty Day Check-In

  1. Sounds like outstanding progress to me!

  2. Sounds pretty darn good to me. It wouldn’t do him any good to rush him anyway, you’ve got plenty of time, right?

    • Natalie Keller Reinert

      Yes, one of the many virtues of refusing to set solid goals! I will say that it would be nice to be hopping over some little fences in six weeks or so… but I’m notorious for waiting and waiting and waiting until the horse is Just Right. No point in taking someone to a fence and inadvertently teaching him to rush or refuse!

  3. This is very good progress for the first thirty days! I spent my first 30 days on ground manners and in-hand work with Gabe. He had ZERO ground manners when he got here, didn’t think twice about running you over…wouldn’t stand tied, was very mouthy and nippy, barely led and did not respect me on the ground at all. Funny how some come to you with excellent ground manners…and others with none at all!

    I know what you mean about the nose to the ground…I seriously need some longer reins too…my short little arms just aren’t long enough to give Gabe the room he needs to S…t…r..e…t..c..h.

    • Natalie Keller Reinert

      I wonder where Gabe’s childhood was spent, who trained him and handled him, etc. My guess is that Final Call had a lip chain on at an early age and learned not to go back against it. There’s something to be said for that. The lip chain, when used gently and only for quick correction, can keep a stud colt or a fresh filly on all four legs and walking gently next to you when otherwise their natural instincts and bursting athleticism would send them into the atmosphere at the slightest excuse. On the rare occasion when he has spooked while leading, he has hit the end of the leadrope and not only stopped, but backed up again so that he’s at my shoulder. A very sensitive and sensible horseman taught him some valuable lessons about ground manners.

      And what is a horse without ground manners? I used to put my OTTB’s through Natalie’s Boot Camp. For about a month, they weren’t allowed to move a hoof or swish a tail without asking my permission. It’s how I transformed a teasing stallion into a kid’s horse. So there you go – that is often the first thirty days. I feel a bit lucky – I’m sure the next horse won’t be so easy. Don’t worry – you’ll hear all about that one, too šŸ™‚

  4. Great work, Natalie!

    And really great tips for me. Even though I’ve been working with Bar for two years, it helps to think back to the basics–especially when he decides he feels like testing the alpha status. šŸ™‚

  5. I’m glad there are riders like you out there!! I’ll just ride the babies vicariously through your blogs! That’s brave enough for me!

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