So, not really much to report on the training front. I do have an interesting tack update, though :) In my quest to make Ben the most-expensive-cheap-horse-ever, I've been exploring different bits for him. If you have read any of my other posts, you know that Ben has always been a bit of a bugger with bitting. Super playful, mouthing, and then chompy and grindy. Not a quiet mouth at all. And while I have come to the conclusion that his issue is more of a fitness/possibly lameness/it-is-damn-hard-to-engage-the-hind-end issue, bitting also seems to make a difference to him.
After going down the road of special metals, super expensive sprengers, and nathe and back to basic cheapo bits with little overall success, I decided to jump into the world of Myler bits. I've not ever really had the need to explore these bits, and the ones I have used I never really saw anything special or magical about them. In any case, over the holiday break I decided to explore all their options and functions, and even sent in a contact form that Dale Myler responded to rather quickly. After asking lots of other questions, he came back with the suggestion that I had been mulling around in my head: a ported snaffle. Perhaps Ben needs the tongue relief.
Okidokie - so I ordered one with a low-port. Almost immediately I had a happier, quieter horse. It wasn't magical, but he was much quieter over all, and much more willing for a longer period of time. Hmmm.... so now I have a couple of other ported Mylers coming my way to also try, to see which might be the best one for him.
I will say, as frustrating and expensive as this horse can be, I am also enjoying the journey of learning.
So, that brings me to nailing down some goals for the year. As much as I want to get all lofty, I'm going to set the bar pretty low...so here goes:
- Ride consistently, all year. And by consistent, I mean 3-4 days/week. Seems simple enough, right? Wrong. My challenge here is riding Ben consistently while also riding and showing (hopefully) my mare. Currently they are boarded at 2 different barns and it is really challenging to make it out to see both of them. Heck, it was challenging when they lived in the same barn, too. Last year I let someone free lease Ben while I focused on my girl. I'm thinking it over again for this year, not quite sure I want to do that, but it is a possibility, and already a little bit of interest by others in that.
- Get the boy vetted. While he's moving better than ever, I still have this gut feeling that something is a little NQR in the hind end. At the very least, he probably could use a little support. Not that I am a fan of direct joint injections at all, but I'm also not opposed to making him more comfortable if need be. So, this goal is really to put my mind at ease about the level of work he's doing now, and possibly in the future.
- Jump, a little. A friend of mine has expressed interest/desire in bringing us along to her baby events. I think it sounds like a gloriously fun time to get out there doing something different. I think Ben plodding around on a baby cross-country course sounds like killer fun. Mind you, we have no skills in this area (I am a former jumper, though pushing 15 years into retirement haha). And of course, this goal is dependent on the outcome of the one above.
- Counter Canter. Last month our trainer told us that we're just about at the point where counter canter is going to be our next step.
- Shoulder-In, Leg Yields, Lateral Suppling. I will admit, I do not do a lot of SI with Ben, probably to our detriment. I play with it in walk, but haven't really done much in trot, not even in shoulder fore. I also haven't put a huge focus on LY's or any other lateral and suppling movements. This is me saying I need to make time in our rides to do these things. I am not great at teaching these in general, and it is hard for me to judge when there is not enough/enough, so I generally shy away from it. I really need eyes on the ground and coaching in this area.