Monday, April 6, 2015

Sheldon Under Saddle

I'd like to attempt to keep an accurate and detailed record of Sheldon's training, but as I'm currently in the middle of finals I'm going to have to keep this brief. Before I purchased Sheldon, he'd had maybe 10 rides post-track, most of which had been trail rides. His owner doesn't have an indoor, so if she wished to do any real work with him, she would have to ship out. As a result, before test-riding him he'd had maybe 3 actual schooling sessions since coming off the track.

His former owner was kind enough to ship Sheldon (henceforth referred to as S) to a friend's farm so that I could test ride him. I was incredibly impressed with what I saw, especially after going to look at a rather disappointing horse the previous weekend. S was calm, steered quite well dor a horse so fresh off the track, moved cute, and calmly popped over an x! When I hopped on him, I found him a little onnthe lazy side, but incredibly comfortable to ride. Though small (15.3 max)he has a comfortable, floating stride and,fresh off the track, one of the most comfortable rockinghorse canters I've ever ridden! His only vices (that I could detect) were a tendency to randomly pop into the canter for a stride or two when he felt confused, and an inability to pick up the right lead. I popped him over a few jumps, and found him brave, but rather lazy. Given how green he was though, his juumping skills were actually quite impressive!
The day he came home was quite a long one; we arrived home at about 11:30, so needless to say S was not ridden until the next day. Our first ride was pretty uneventful. He was calm & well behaved in a new arena, and we walked, trotted, and cantered left without a care in the world. As predicted, he didn't oick up his right lead canter, but coming out of a 4 year racing career that's not unexpected. We popped over a little x, and on a whim headed towards a gate which was lying on the ground. Even though we were trotting on a loose rein, S boldly stepped right over it in spite of being given every opportunity to "run out". At the end of our ride, I even hopped on bareback inna halter... Though his massive withers and protruding spine made that particular venture rather short lived ;)
The next day we started the real work. I focused on teaching S to move off my leg, and introduced the notion of bending through the ribcage. He picked up on this quickly, and after a lovely bit of trot work, I decided he was ready to start working on his leads. After one false start in which he picked uop the left lead, S picked up the right lead... twice in a row! Good pony.
Our final ride so far was a solo hack, which S did splendidly on. So far, our biggest training concerns appear to be the right lead canter, an inability to stand still, and a tendency to throw his head kn the walk. I've been incredibly impressed with hos good brain, and laid-back attitude. The plan is to solidify his flatwork over the next few weeks, and then reintroduce jumping when we can consistently pick yo the right lead, and consistently move off my outside leg. I'd expected that to take 2-3 weeks minimum, nut if he keeps going like this we may be back to jumping by the time my exams are over! Though then the bigger test will be fitness and muscle development... Right now I have to be very careful about what & how much I ask of him, as he hasn't got an ounce of muscle on his body & I'd rather not make him sore!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

My New Man

Meet the new pony- Sheldon's Crusader! He passed his vetting Wednesday afternoon and came home late Wednesday evening. I didn't want to mention anything on the blog until all the details were confirmed, but now that the deed is done it's time to spill the beans ;)
Sheldon is a 2007 model TB that came off the track at the end of November.  He was picked up by a young lady who's putting herself theough school by flipping young horses, and she gave him some downtime at her farm before trying to find him a home. Due to the fact that we've still got snow and sub zero temperatures up here, Sheldon hasn't done a heck of a lot since he raced, as she didn't have an jndoor. He's proven himself to be a good trail horse though, and during the two rides in which she shipped him out to an indoor he behaved like a real gentleman.
I brought him home late Wednesday night, and since then he's been receiving some much needed TLC. He had his feet done today, and man oh man should I have gotten before & after pics. Unfortunately we'll have to make do with just the afters. His angles in the fronts were atrocious, and as a result there's a fair bit of bruising. The farrier thinks that given the soft ground outside right now, our best bet is to keep an eye on him, & just maintain a good trim schedule. We'll try to keep him barefoot and let his feet sort themselves out over time, rather than slapping a set of shoes on. Providing he doesn't get footnsore, that is! Here are a few pics of the fronts:
 There's a lot more to fill you in on, but I'll save that for another day. Tomorrow, I'll write an update on how he's doing under saddle