Sunday, August 7, 2016

An Overview of Casey: Strengths, Weaknesses, and Goals

When I first started riding Casey, she was entirely unimpressive. She was very sweet and responsive but was so out of shape that everything was a struggle. She could walk... but would freak out if I touched the reins. She could trot... but was very clumsy and just wanted to go faster and faster. She could canter... but only a circle and then she would fall into a trot. After working with her for a month she has made so much progress - and yet there is still so much work to be done.
I've decided to record all of the things that Casey can do, all of the things that Casey needs to work on, and all of the goals I have for us together with the purpose of being able to use this list to track our progress in the future. I am a very goal-driven person and, to me, part of the fun of riding is making progress and learning with your horse. Although this post focuses specifically on Casey, there are lots of things that I need to work on as a rider. And a lot of the things that Casey needs to work on are really things that we need to work on together. At some point, I will write one of these posts about myself, but for now, I'm just going to focus on my horsie.
Things Casey is awesome at:
  • Casey is very good at walking on a lead rope. She walks at my speed and doesn't pull. When I say "ho" she stops and turns her face towards me to ask for a treat. This is amazing, because when I first started working with her she was so bad on the lead rope that she needed a chain wrapped around her halter to get her to listen.
  • She has mostly great ground manners. She will stand at the cross ties without trying to destroy things.
  • She is super duper cuddly. She loves people and loves attentions and is a total ham.
  • Casey can have a very nice relaxed walk. If, and only if, I leave the reins alone.
  • She is very talented at trotting. She could trot all day if I would let her. Casey has also gotten good at controlling the speed of her trot (with a little persuasion).
  • Casey has both of her canter leads down and picks up the correct lead about 95% of the time.
  • Her stamina has improved so much. She can now canter for about 3-4 minutes straight without any issues.
  • She is super talented at jumping. She loves it and tries even for the tiniest cavalettis. Currently, the highest we have jumped is 2'6".
  • She is not a stopper or a run-outer. She is brave and honest and has jumped everything that I have put in front of her.
  • She knows how to stop on command and how to back up. She doesn't really like it, but she can do it.
  • Casey may like to go fast, but she is not a dangerous horse. She only spooks if she has a valid reason to, she has never reared, and she has never bucked (I don't even know if she is capable of bucking).
  • She is very sensitive. I don't actually know if this belongs on this list because it can cause problems, but she is so responsive. I've never sat on a horse that is so in-tune with her rider before.
    Casey backing up
    She's gained a lot of muscle since I bought her
    She thinks this cavaletti is an oxer. It is not.
    She tries her best to do what I ask
Things Casey needs to improve on:
  • Casey's one fault in her ground manners is that if I leave her unattended (by which I mean, she thinks I can't see her, but I definitely can) she will paw at the ground. I hate this. It is super annoying and I am working on training her to not do this.
  • For some reason unknown to me, Casey is terrified of me trying to mount from the ground. It completely freaks her out. I can hop on her from the lowest step of the mounting block (only about 6 inches from the ground) without any problems, but if I try to hop on from the ground she completely unravels. I have no idea why this freaks her out so much, but she needs to get over it because there will be times when I need to get on her but don't have access to a mounting block.
  • Casey is an off-the-track Thoroughbred and with that comes a whole slew of training problems, mostly relating to her desire to go fast. If I pick up the reins she tries to go faster. If I tighten the reins she tries to go faster. If I lean forward at all she tries to go faster. If I touch her sides at all she tries to go faster. She is just a bit of a speed demon. We've made so much progress on this, but she still needs to get better about listening to me when I ask her to come back to me.
  • She does not at all understand what leg pressure means. She thinks it just means to go really fast and doesn't realize that I am asking her to move sideways. We've been working at this at a standstill, just trying to get her to go sideways, with limited success.
  • She struggles at bending in a circle. I am having trouble helping her with this because she doesn't understand my leg pressure (see above).
  • Her left lead canter is very weak. She tends to fall in at the corners and just has trouble maintaining the canter.
  • She does not have auto-lead changes at all.
  • The canter-to-trot transition is rough at best.
  • When we are jumping small jumps, Casey wants to gallop to them. She doesn't do this when the jumps go up. We are working on this.
  • She is still not entirely in training mode and so some days when I hop on she is just a terror. She is very good at throwing temper tantrums (tossing her head in the air, jigging in place) when I ask her to do something she thinks is unreasonable (most often the unreasonable request is that I asked her to walk).
  • She likes to put her tongue over the bit. This has greatly improved with my new bit, but she still occasionally does this. If she only does this at the end of our ride then I could probably live with it, it is just a problem when she does it while trotting or cantering.
  • Mostly Casey needs to continue to build strength and muscle. She is very heavy on the forehand and just needs to become more balanced.
  • AHHH! My human is attacking me!
    Tongue over the bit
    Falling in at the corner
My goals for us (for our first year together):
  • I want us to enter at least one show this year. It can be a little schooling show, and I don't really care about the height, but I want us to start gaining experience in the show ring.
  • No more pawing at the ground!
  • Casey will learn to let me get on from the ground. It will suck to get through her freakout stage, but I am convinced that she can get over it.
  • I want her to get better at transitions and to listen to me when I ask her to slow down. Just better first-time response.
  • I want us to jump at least 3 feet but would love to go higher than that.
  • I hope she gets stronger and more balanced.
  • I want her to figure out what leg pressure means and to respond to it without getting agitated.
  • I would love for her to get auto-lead changes (let's see how reasonable that goal is).
The exciting thing about Casey being mine is that we have all of the time in the world to work on these things together. She has come so far in such a short amount of time and I cannot even imagine what our relationship will look like a year from now. I hope that I am able to meet my goals. Some of them could take as little as a month but others might take years. Mostly I just want to continue to have more good days than bad and to fall even more in love with my horsie.
She's such a good girl!
Do you make goals for you and your horse? What goals do you currently have? Any recommendations for how to deal with Casey's weaknesses?
One more jump shot because I can't help myself

No comments:

Post a Comment