Friday, April 1, 2011

Big News!

Well we did it. Today Doug's and my offer was accepted for a piece of land. We bought 135 acres, 5 minutes from the 102 (the Trans Canada Highway). We are very excited!
Thinking of a horse business, this location is ideal - it's central in the Province and there aren't any back roads to travel over to get there (easy with a trailer), yet it is pure rural. It's only about 10 minutes to Truro (a large town) and 40 minutes to Halifax (Atlantic Canada's biggest city and NS's capital). It's also close and convenient to get to from Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.
We'll take our time now and think about what we want to do. Maybe it will just be an investment for the future, or maybe we'll develop it as a horse business sooner rather than later. We need more market research and  work on our business plan before we decide if / when to move, but it was the right location for the right price so we took it. We feel sure the land is a good investment even if we don't do a horse business. It's a little scary, especially at our age, to embark on a major business investment - but at least most of the investment is in land or buildings :)
Back to training journal writing - I'm slowly but surely realizing (no one will ever accuse me of being a quick study when it comes to dressage) that Rogo, for whatever reason (young? big? genes?) isn't like any other horse I've ever ridden. He is REALLY different almost every time I ride him. When I first backed him I thought it was because he was so young and inexperienced. I could never develop feel with him, because he always felt different. With Dan and Savanah and other lesson horses I've ridden, I pretty much know what I'm going to get. They may be a bit more frisky on a windy cool day and a bit slower on a hot day, but that's about it. With Rogo, the only generalization I can make is that he's more forward spring and fall. However, that doesn't mean he's forward every ride spring and fall (and I've been very careful not to over do it). He can be extremely forward one ride, and two days later he can be slow, slow, slow, after a day off. I'm sure he isn't uncomfortable because he's soft and happy, just low energy.
I've talked to the vet about this, given supplements, experimented with his diet but I can't connect anything to the dramatic change in energy. It's disconcerting to try to plan a warm up or a ride when you have no idea until you're on him what kind of ride it's going to be. That wouldn't be so bad, but how do you plan your ride at a show? This is my big question if anyone has any advice. It could be he'll need a lengthy (40 minutes or so) warm up with lots of bending and canter work to get energized, or he may just need 10 minutes to get supple on days when his energy is good.
I hope this doesn't sound like complaining because he's really fun and has a great personality. Matter if fact I can't imagine riding another horse now - he's just too much fun. Some days it feels like magic.  I'm just thinking out loud and continually puzzled by this.
Ride before last, almost from his first step, I felt like I could have taken him into a show the next day. Yesterday it took at least 25 minutes to get him to connect and become more forward. Dear knows what it will be next ride.
This is a challenge for me, because warm up routines and a planned training session make me feel like we're having a productive ride and getting somewhere, whether it's true or not :). Maybe it would help me if I developed a slow, medium and forward bag of tricks I could draw on, within broad parameters, so I wouldn't have to try to figure out spontaneously what to do. That will be my goal for my next post.
Meantime, the broad parameters:
  • don't expect connection and rounding until he's warmed up, whether this is a minute or 20 minutes, and be ready for either
  • improve his response to moving forward and laterally from my leg aid 
  • focus on our weaker areas: the stretchy trot circle, riding the canter trot transition, leg yield

17 comments:

Shannon said...

Congratulations! 135 acres, wow! You could grow your own hay!

I've noticed a lot of WBs can be forward one day and sluggish others, more so than other breeds I've worked with. But any horse can be like that, sometimes they're just having a sluggish day. That's why I always remind myself "ride the horse you're on"! ;) That's also why it's important to have a big bag of tricks and to never rely on one style or method of riding.

Dom said...

Congrats! That is a lot of property :) How exciting.

Annette said...

Congratulations on the property! You must post about your plans as you go along. Exciting! On the Rogo front, I can't be much help other than empathizing with you. My Friesian, Auke, was just like that. And shows were challenging as you described. Although he was a blast to ride, it became too frustrating for me and I threw in the towel... not that you should AT ALL. Just my experience.

achieve1dream said...

Wow congrats on the land! I would love to buy acreage like that. And it sounds like it's in the perfect location. :) How far is it from where you live now?

On the Rogo front I really don't have any advice. I've never dealt with anything like that (that I can remember). I do remember my trainer saying (regarding her Oldenburg) that some days she was riding the Oldenburg and some days she was riding the Thoroughbred and she never knew which day it was until she mounted up. Maybe it's just a warmblood thing. :) It could also be a baby thing. He'll probably grow more consistent as he gets older.

Grey Horse Matters said...

Congratulations on your purchase. How exciting. If it was me I wouldn't be able to wait to build something there and move the horses and barn lock, stock and barrel. I'd probably be putting up paddock fencing and sleeping in a tent. Good luck with whatever you decide.

Having been the owner of a Dutch Warmblood for 15 years starting at his age of three. I say welcome to the wonderful world of warmbloods. I empathize with you, one day different from the next. I would say your best bet is to do a good twenty minute warm up and see what you're dealing with before you continue with a lesson plan and then adjust the plan to fit the mood. My horse was lazy most of the time unless jumping or out of the ring work was on the agenda then he perked up. But I think he got tired of doing the same thing over and over and was bored. So I switched it up as much as I could. One day outside of the arena work, jumps, flat work, cavelletti etc. Once he got bored he got sluggish and I mean snail sluggish. Have fun.

TeresaA said...

hey Carol, congrats on the land. it's very exciting!!

Horses can be different every time you ride. Irish is like that as well and he's TB/QH. Here is what I learned- if I let my horse set the agenda I can spend a frustrating hour. So now I take 5-10 minutes to determine what the issue is 'today' and then I work on that. If it's forwardness then I work on being forward. That may mean getting into 2 point and CANTERING. If he's just wanting to plop along on the forehand- then it's a hundred transitions. If it's bend then I work on that. From that I then move onto the rest of the training. If you set up the expectation that the horse can decide the pace then you will always be struggling. I am not saying to be mean but you need to be clear and firm. Some things are not negotiable.

smazourek said...

Congratulations, land owner!

TBDancer said...

Congratulations ;o) I have one acre and a large house. Want more land less house. Had my priorities mixed up when I moved here, for sure. As for the horse, my OTTB is warmed up the same because he's got a tight back (slight roach back from birth and injuring himself by going up and over backward at the track). We warm up about 10 minutes on the buckle at the walk, then another 10 minutes with long and low, also at the walk. Then canter. Lots of canter--circles, spirals, forward, back, shallow loops, changes of direction, long and low. Warming up the muscles. ;o) His trot is ALWAYS better after the canter work, so we don't do much trotting to warm up. THAT part of our riding routine doesn't change. After that, like you with Rogo, it's "cook's choice"--and sometimes the cook isn't communicating :oD

Rising Rainbow said...

135 acres! All I can say is WOW! That's a chunk of land. Enough to grow your own hay and have oddles of horses. That's my big dream to have "real" land for my breeding operation.

Interesting about Rogo being on and off followed by the comments that is typical for warmbloods. I had no idea. I am spoiled by having horses who love to go.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Carol-

Congratulations on your new land. Very very exciting. Looking forward seeing this project develop!!

I totally agree with what Teresa said about you being the one to make the agenda! But would add - always be flexible about how you set up your training session. I've found that more often than not I must also be willing to let go of my agenda and "ride the horse I have today".

It requires more thinking and responsiveness on my part and is something I really struggle with - but very important! :)

Story said...

Congratulations on the new land! It sounds so perfect. You must be so excited.

in2paints said...

Congratulations on the property! That must be so exciting! It doesn't seem like land is ever a bad investment, so you've definitely done a good thing!

I keep trying to set an agenda with my horse as well, but she's terribly inconsistent and it's a challenge to keep her on schedule. I'll find she needs more work here or there, and before I know it we haven't done any of the things we set out to do.

I wish I had a sluggish horse! :)

OnTheBit said...

Congrats!!!

Carol said...

Thanks everyone.
I really appreciate the feedback on the training and warm bloods. Now it makes more sense.

Brittany said...

Congrats on your purchase! How exciting. I'm sure you'll love every acre of it!!

Jan said...

Carol, That is wonderful news about your land purchase! Congratulations! What wonderful adventures you can contemplate at your leisure with the purchase now made. It sounds exciting. On Rogo, I think your idea of having three different plans in mind is great! Then you'll be somewhat prepared right from the start of your ride. You have lots of good ideas! Rogo is lucky to have you!

allhorsestuff said...

VERY AWESOME!!! You and your man are going to have fun with this one and it is very exciting! Congrats!

Well, having been out of the arena for so long now..I'm rusty feeling. AND I have such a forward go go mare that, your Rogo would be a challenge.
You got some excellent comments...and the one thing I have to share with some oters too that mentioned it is: every day is a potentially different horse. I have found, even out on the trail, I have to GIVE UP MY AGENDA, and have a general agenda for correct trainng and riding the horse that I am on-THAT DAY-. It's tough sometimes and sometimes a behaviour will show up that is unwelcome..and I must sometimes litterally and quickly-redirect energies-.

I just saw a clinic where the horse was breaking into canter when asked to extend the trot. The clinitian had her quickly turn to the right then to the left, then straight back to the line of travel again..the horse only tried to canter once more in the next 3 times she asked for extension. With the abrupt change
it kinda changed the horses circuits towards a pattern. It was certainly interesting.

My stable owner has a Paint mare she is having the darndest time with..she is NOT forward and almost resists her asking for impulsion. Her trainer had her put a bag on her dressage whip. (of course she is used to it from many ground work sessions and riding with it too) When the mare seems to be resisting her leg or sleeping... she flicks the bag right as she asked for more movement...it again, disconnected the circuit of what the horse has choosen to do. She does NOT have to do it again usually.

I think what ever measure is used, be it some ground polls or a new pattern,riding the hacking track, outside the arnea for 10 minutes, or a simple free lunging. The measure can be different each time too ..but the same end is to redirect the Current of energies, ans sometimes start them flowing!

I love reading about your experiences!!! Makes my mind dig into things I will be doing someday too!