Tuesday, March 13, 2012

When He's Good He's Very, Very, Good and When He's Bad He's ...

I should warn you that this post is an unabashed, unapologetic ode to Rogo, who isn't exactly an angel in many people's eyes (I'll explain that in a bit). This winter has been a turning point for him/us. It's been one of the most challenging times of my life, and he hasn't been easy, but it's worth it many times over. As you know, we've been at Fraser Equestrian Center for the winter. There are two big, game changing, developments:
  1. Rogo is forward - as you may remember, I've struggled with Rogo being super lazy in the trot. He just wouldn't go forward no matter what - kicks, whips - nothing worked and it felt awful to try that way. You may be cynical and credit the spurs you see me wearing now. I can tell you that didn't get him forward. I wore them for weeks before there was a difference. The thing I believe made a difference was a coach who made me push him forward until he built the muscles and the muscle memory to go forward naturally. For weeks Sue would tell us every few strides, "more forward". Now if she mentions speed at all she is telling me to half halt on the outside to steady him (slow him a bit and get him on his hind quarters). When I mount, Rogo is raring to go and the first part of the ride requires a lot of half halts to keep him from running. He actually jigs :), so be careful what you wish for. He is so forward he had to have his feed cut in half and he is still an energizer bunny. How could you not love that? The other day Sue said to  me "he's gone from a diesel to a sports car and he's not going back". So, that about sums it up - after two years + of lamenting lack of energy / forwardness I've got a young horse with a go button. Heaven. 
  2. The second big development, and of course hand in hand with the first, is that Rogo is developing roundness. He's been flopping around on his forehand for 2+ years and now he's learning to use his hind quarters. I can't describe how happy I am, how amazing it feels, that he's driving from his hind quarters. This is kind of flaky of me, but I'm so impressed and amazed by the feeling that I am literally dreaming about riding him almost every time I fall asleep. Keep in mind this is my first warm blood and first time starting a horse, so having this power develop is very big to me. It's a sensation I'd describe as having a powerful motor driving you forward. Rogo is big boned and has a strong jumper influence in his pedigree. When those hind legs start coming underneath him and sending us forward it's a feeling like I've never known before. I love it and I love knowing it's only going to get better as he develops. 
My niece flew in to visit my Mom who just had a hip replacement (thus I've been off blogger for a week) and she took the videos you see here with a phone. The quality isn't good but at least it's something for the record I want to keep (glare is from back door being open - it was 17 that day!). The first is just a short clip but you'll hear Sue referring to Rogo's power (he's been wanting to go, go, go). He isn't fast here; as a matter of fact I've slowed him to the point that he's slower than usual. Just for the record, once he gets warmed up and into the lesson he's all business. This isn't a spooky energy, it's a forward energy.
The next is of him doing 10 m circles down one long side and (supposedly) leg yielding up the other side. He pokes his nose out and goes on his forehand during the leg yield (he does it okay sometimes, but not in this instance), but he went like this all the time last fall. Anyway, this is pretty average fare for someone doing dressage, but it's big to me! (You'll see Brittany and Spider at the end. Spider is schooling PSG and he's spooking at my niece in the corner videoing. I think Spider is an Appendix Quarter Horse and he's very talented. He does very well in competition. I don't know how to edit it out.)

  




 Now, for the 'when he's bad' part - Rogo is very strong minded and he hasn't been, shall we say, 100% in favour of roundness and using his hind quarters. This manifests itself in the canter where he will suddenly, with no warning turn on a dime and veer off course, trying to leave the ring (and succeeding on occasion) and / or getting very strong/fast and refusing to turn. He'll also take the wrong lead which he'd never done before and even went through a phase where he'd try to refuse to canter. Generally anything to create a little chaos and avoid the intended work plan. It has taken all of my perseverance to stick with it. I feel bad because if anyone else is riding it is a little disconcerting to say the least, but I'm not giving up so it is what it is. It's gotten a lot better but it still isn't great.
So even though he's missed over a month (sarcoid surgery) out of the last four months, he's made great progress over all and even the 'bad' is getting better.

We have another Cindy Ishoy clinic coming up in a couple of weeks and I'm really looking forward to that. I'm also looking forward to catching up on my blog reading again. Dear knows what I've missed. Coffee and horsey blogs are on the horizon...

    18 comments:

    Annette said...

    You guys are making such progress!! I know what you mean about that feeling and wanting to ride again and again. Its addicting! I haven't experienced more than a taste, but enough to know it makes you want more. With forward well established, you guys can do anything! You'll get through the canter evasions. There's always something to work on - and keep our feet on the ground.

    Niamh said...

    Such progress! His back looks lovely and swinging at the trot!

    juliette said...

    So happy for you and your excitement to ride. You and Rogo were meant to be together.

    Kate said...

    Looking good! The canter stuff is just young horse stuff, I expect. You should be delighted with his progress!

    Amy said...

    YAY! You guys look great!!! I am so happy for you. The canter will come just like the trot did. It will just take work. Steady has to have major fitness to get a canter that isn't wonky and all over the place but boy oh boy when he builds the fitness, oooh his canter is awesome (his best gait). But just cantering around an arena is one thing but when you start asking him to canter on the bit, round and using his hind end that is asking ALOT muscule wise. So just like you had this amazing break through at the trot, you will have the same at the canter. Just stick with it and help him build those muscules.

    Jeni said...

    Carol! You and Rogo look Great!!!! Canter will come in time I wouldn't worry about it.

    Wendy said...

    You guys look great! He travels so well across the arena. Lovely movement! As for the canter thing - he's just keeping you on your toes and making sure you have something to work on. LOL! He'll get past that in no time. So fun to see and read your progress. I can feel your enthusiasm in your words.

    Sandra said...

    You two look great together and Rogo's trot looks wonderful, lots of rhythm, relaxation and schwung! Canter is harder for big horses, it will come.

    Val said...

    I can see the nice forwardness! You look good up there, too! He will be just as good at the canter in no time.

    I like the Appendix.
    Go PSG quarter horses!

    Calm, Forward, Straight said...

    You and handsome Rogo are looking great - smooth and swingy! Results are coming from all your hard work. :)

    Lori Skoog said...

    Good for you. Things are cookin'

    Jan said...

    Carol, What a wonderful progress report! What great things you and Rogo are doing!! I'm so impressed- what a great horse (and you are a terrific trainer for him!!)!!

    prairienerd said...

    That is an absolutely beautiful trot, Carol. Well done! I hope I can have that kind of power, energy and rhythm coming out of my new horse in four months time.

    Thank you for saying that there is no "secret weapon" to get that trot - it's just a persistent coach, time and patience. That is very encouraging for me to hear.

    Grey Horse Matters said...

    You and Rogo look great. You've both come a long way. The canter will come and someday his antics will be nothing but a memory. I know how good you must be feeling when he's forward and listening, I used to get the same way with my lazy warmblood. Trust me it took a long time but we finally "got it."

    Nina said...

    Congrats! Love the power that you are showing from behind. I have the same problem - no go! Sometimes when we do have it - Wow it is amazing so I understand where you are coming from. Well done and keep going ou are doing a great job!

    Carol said...

    Thanks for all of the great feedback and encouragement. I really appreciate it.

    achieve1dream said...

    He looks so fantastic! You're doing an awesome job with him. :D

    Oh and wanted to mention I've never even ridden Chrome and I go to sleep dreaming about riding him lol.

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