Friday, July 06, 2007

Good Lessons

And a Pretty Nice Day

Glad it wasn't too hot today for the lessons.

Tucker and I worked hard in the lesson and I am really pleased with how well he went. Gabriel's take on the horse show scores was interesting in that he said in no way would he ever make the comment "on the forehand" for Tucker. He said we all have to ride our horses correctly and not rely on judges to decide whether we are doing it right.

Of course, the judges make the decision in the show ring, but that does not mean their opinions are always on target.

So, off we went into some excellent work, getting Tucker to really use his body well. As the lesson progressed, he became more and more steady and more and more "together." Gabriel finally decided that lots of transtions would be the best exercises I could do, so we started off with trot/walk/trot transitions, with me keeping Tucker really forward off my leg into the walk. After a little work, he mastered that and I could feel him beginning to understand the need to stay forward and actually elevate his front end as his hind legs stayed more active and stepped underneath.

These are not new exercises for either one of us, but doing them in the lesson with a ground person to offer critique and correct reminded me of how valuable they are. Gabriel feels Tucker is the kind of horse who right now needs constant half-halts to keep him focused and working properly. The transitions, without actually going all the way down to the walk, are those half halts.

We did the same at the canter, doing first canter trot, and then canter, collect, canter. That got a little exciting with Tucker offered a little "bucky" resistance now and again, but all in all I could feel it improve his canter quite a bit.

By no means is any of this making Tucker "Light" to the bridle, but that is just fine with me. I like the feeling of contact in my hands as long as the horse is pushing into the bit from behind. I was really pleased with how my boy worked.

Except for the backtalk. Because I had brought Toby along for Bonnie to ride, Tucker decided to keep whinnying to him during the lesson. Tuck is not prone to talking at all. At home, if Toby calls to him, he never answers. Today, he just keep on calling during the lesson. Gabriel found this all quite funny, along with the other little pranks Tucker pulls, and said that if horses could talk, Tuck would have quite a story to tell. That is exactly what I used to hear about Russell R. Nothing like having a Thoroughbred with "character" to brighten the day.

High character reigned with Toby when Bonnie got on him. What an absolutely marvelous teacher he is. Bonnie was able to put into practice all the skills Gabriel has been trying to teach her over the last several months, and everything clicked. If she did something wrong, Toby responded in the wrong way, reacting exactly to the incorrect aid or cue she gave. If she did it right, he responded correctly. He really did look good as she rode him. I had a big grin on my face watching him. He was steady, honest, and a absolute star. I am so proud of him!

Bonnie has been looking for a new horse for quite some time and she has ridden many potential purchases. Most of them are supposed to be trained to about the same level as Toby. Apparently, he was head and shoulders above all of them. Now, what she needs to find is a young horse with his attitude and training.

Of course, Toby is 17 now and has 15 years of training under his girth. But still, Tucker, at only 7 is well on his way along the same road. Surely there must be a horse for sale somewhere with the proper training. Horses she was looking at were priced upwards from $40,000 and none of them were as good a ride as mine. I'll have to figure this all out, but right now, at 1200 or so pounds, Toby might really be worth his weight in gold!

Well, that goes without saying anyhow, because he is worth ten times that to me.

And Tucker is even fatter.

Chance seemed to have been fine at home by himself. He was not at all upset when the older Boys came home. I hope he doesn't feel too left out. I will get him into the work schedule as soon as I am sure he is OK. There is just no point in stressing his hind end until I know it really is healed. Once I start riding him too I am going to be really fit.

And, it is supposed to be hot this weekend, so maybe I can start my summer swimming.


  1. that sounds like really good lessons all round....

    i often wonder about these huge prices you see for horses....

  2. Hello Jean,

    Really interesting lesson.
    I am just wondering is your friend looking for "dressage" horse or just for a schooled horse. I have the feeling that "specialised horses" arte over-priced. But one of the yard private owner just bought a 4yrs mare for ... hacking, my trainer is giving her more refined training. TBH, she would a be a very fun horse to take on. She has a great potentiel.

    Maybe your friend needs to go browsing more. If in Italy we have interesting horses. I am sure that in the US, you should have many more :-)