Rocky's first proper lesson
With Rocky now working sufficiently well at home, it is time to begin his education further.
At home we have been working on establishing what each transition aid means, and ensuring he is happy with those. Clearly transitions are very important for all horses, and an integral part of training, even for the baby horse.
Happy that these are established, I wanted to now check out his reactions to working away from home, a different arena, a different environment etc...
I booked a lesson at altogether equestrian with my trainer Gina Suddaby who has years of experience starting young horses and training them. As rocky has some big future plans, this is the time he needs this help and guidance. I have obviously trained youngsters previously, very successfully, however I am so excited about Rocky's potential it would be tragic to allow a habit of either mine or his to ruin such a good horse.
The lesson was booked for the Friday, so as rocky hadn't yet worked in a different arena, on the Thursday I took him to homestead and tried him out in the arena there. As always, rocky took it all in his stride and just got on with it!
Here is a clip from the first visit to Homestead: http://youtu.be/mrhjEn8AsVM
So Friday arrived, Lucy Morgans my new found mentor and very helpful friend accompanied us on our journey to cholderton. My lovely partner was waiting there for us as he was on route to work, but agreed to help and video our session.
Rocky came off the trailer, usual rocky style, ooh look, there is grass!!
His attention was grabbed by some of the horses at the yard as they walked past us, big warm bloods, gleaming coats, beautiful muscle tone, soft in their frame (sorry, got carried away there drooling!) rocky seemed to 'study' these gorgeous horses as they went by, almost saying "umm is that what I am meant to do?" Well obviously I whispered "yes rocky, please watch carefully and try to emulate them!"
So, tacked up and mounted, we wandered off to find Gina, she was just finishing teaching a group in the indoor who were just exiting the arena (more drooling from me and more 'studying' from rocky). Gina came out and said for us to go in and wander around, well, rocky has only ever been indoors at sparsholt in hand and that was an 'exciting' experience for all concerned! Lucy came in with us and john followed behind videoing.
Rocky didn't seem too worried about it, curious, but ok, it was the fact he could hear but not see the other horses on the yard, ears pricked, head up, a bit tense but nothing horrid.
Gina came in and we began our session, a short 30minute guidance session, focussing on working rocky into the contact, (I'd been a bit slack in this department, being a bit on soft) so as I took a contact, soft, elastic and following, rocky questioned it by stopping and bouncing on the spot followed by some piaffe! Well, at least he can do it! Gina kept on at me as each time he did this I was guilty of releasing the contact and being passive, rather than riding him into the contact from my leg and seat, as I was rewarding his negative behaviour with releasing him, sooooo bad of me, especially when I know it is Wrong!!
After I got my act together and had strict words with myself! The work rocky gave was incredible, rhythmical soft, connected (hmm wonder why that was then Sharon :/) and working straight. We finished on a great note, super soft work and both happy.
Here is a clip from the lesson with Gina: http://youtu.be/IISQuUhUg70
Gina was impressed by my somewhat hairy cob, and quite excited too, a great start to his future.
After our session Gina suggested we use our time there to ride around the yard and the outdoor arena, which meant going through the yard, and practice riding in and out of the indoor, all good practice for him.
The yard provided not much interest for rocky, even when the international GP horse MK Pegasus popped his head out to say hi!
The outdoor arena is a gorgeous walled area with a garden on one side with chickens etc, set up in the arena were jumps from the competition run previously, fillers, water trays etc, this was a little more concerning for rocky, he was fine with the garden and chickens, but a little apprehensive of these jumps, Lucy walked around the jumps and that helped, then we were ok.
The most worrying bit about the entire day for rocky was the drain he had to cross to leave the outdoor arena! (He had missed it totally on the way in there!!) but coming out he spotted it, it's one of those half moon drains with the metal grate ontop, well let's say he showed piaffe, passage, rein back, pirouettes and an ability to almost kneel down! Once again I sat quietly reassuring him, never telling him off, Lucy walked back and forth over the killer drain, and eventually rocky took a deep breath (yes really!) and leapt over it! Not quite how I expected our first jump to be! But then he casually strode away with a 'nobody saw me do that' feel about him.
For a first time out, he was just amazing, so pleased with his behaviour and how he progressed once I sorted myself out! That is exactly why I wanted to get on with the training now, not later, that contact we were missing is going to be crucial to everything we do, and it was ME causing a problem! Not any more though, we have our homework and will be working hard on it!