Sunday marked Nay Nay’s 2 year anniversary. If you had asked me earlier this fall, I’d say we were a mess. But right now? We are in the middle of some of the best rides we’ve ever had.
The changes I wrote about last post are really paying off even though they’re not even a couple of weeks old. But Nay is a different horse. I can’t even describe it. He’s relaxed, happy, and just… zen?
After a good weekend of rides where I even had to grab a crop because I COULD NOT KEEP MY HORSE GOING (one reminder and that was done and over with), I sucked it up and texted my trainer last minute to see if she had an opening for a lunchtime lesson the next day.
Despite being colder, despite riding inside, despite being in a lesson (I tend to be nervous for lessons), I had the exact same horse I’ve had for the last several rides. My trainer was shocked at the difference. It’s been at least a month? since our last lesson? Nay was relaxed, stretching for the bit, and slow. And me? I warmed up walking around without stirrups so I could force myself to sit IN the saddle vs perch ON the saddle.
I explained the bit change (I had to remind her which bit she switched me to) and she couldn’t argue with how relaxed he was. And after a nice time trotting around where we focused putting my leg back on and messing with my hands, we worked on the canter which was even better? I need to lean out a bit in the corners and such and apply a little outside leg to the right in the corners so we don’t get stuck, but he never tossed his head once and had “never looked more calm or relaxed, ever.”
Then we just chatted about Nay. Whatever changes I made I need to keep. I told her in addition to the bit, I just cut rice bran and the flax and am basically letting him eat as much alfalfa as he wants (she didn’t know if too much alfalfa was making him uncomfortable, but he’s eating more than he was before when he was super grouchy and my vet told me to load up on alfalfa for his ulcer history).
I ended up bring up the weight comments. Not directly the “you mentioned he looked thin” part, but that I was receiving mixed advice and losing my mind. She looked at him and said he looked great (which he does). And said that everyone’s opinion is based on discipline. In general, for a thoroughbred, he’s fat. For an eventer, he might even be considered overweight. For a hunter, people would probably try to get 300lbs on him (I said I doubt they’d manage and she agreed but said that wouldn’t stop anyone from trying). But that from a body conditioning scale, he’d have an excellent score. So I’m just going to leave it as he’s fine and I’m not trying to get him to be hunter obese.
After all that we did a little jumping. I have not done more than trotting some singles in months. Well, I cantered one fence off a circle, but other than that… But we just started by trotting a pattern of basically every fence in the indoor. So outside single around to inside single, inside line (trotting both fences), outside single, inside single (the other direction). Then we repeated this, skipping the last fence. The second time through the goal was the hold the canter any time possible, basically, canter if we landed the lead. The only time we cantered was the inside line. Final time? Trot the first jump then simple change and canter the rest, trotting into the line. I blew the turn for the outside single so I circled, but we did everything. All of our distances were long cantering in, but we had a steady pace which was the goal so we ended there.
My trainer was actually thrilled. Nay has a history of going long, especially when out of practice, so the long spots didn’t bother her. He didn’t care AT ALL and didn’t speed up on the landing. Just jumped and continued on. The point of the exercise was just to jump and not change anything. Not micromanage. Not ask him to lengthen or shorten to get a better distance but to hold a steady pace and not change anything. He did and going long didn’t bother him one bit (me? haha, but it was fine).
Seriously, who is this horse? He was so relaxed and happy. I just can’t!