Friday, July 26, 2013

Schooling the School Master

Even though it was 95* last night, I finally got my lesson on our barn's school master Tia.  The lesson was supposed to be focused on me and us jumping bigger fences, but didn't go quite as planned.  It was still a great lesson and hopefully in a couple weeks we'll do it again.

Tia is a 14yr old, 16.3 hand Oldenburg/TB hunter mare that came from a big H/J barn outside Portland.  From what we were told, she won a lot in the 3' but couldn't stay sound for the 3'6".  It sounds like she was jumped too much, too young, and now had lameness issues.  She has had at least one foal but we were told she can't get pregnant/hold the pregnancy anymore.  The big barn donated her for a hefty tax write off to the OSU Vet School to use as a research/testing horse but OSU felt like she could still be used, as long as her lameness was managed correctly. She bounced around to a couple different places before coming to our barn as a lesson horse.  She'll never pass a pre-purchase, needs pads on her front feet, joint supplements, and the occasional bute after hard work but is as push button, point and shoot as you get.

Tia and one of her leasees
I've notice over the past couple weeks that Tia's been lacking a lot of top line muscle, so I warmed her up for our lesson in draw reins.  She tends to trick her leasees into thinking she round, and in frame because she'll put her head down but really she's false framing.  It takes a lot of leg, and spur, to get her really round and soft, and she'll do this hoppy/head toss thing to show her displeasure with it.  As soon as I put the draw reins on she gave up the fight and settled into a nice frame.  I still had to use more leg than normal, but I wasn't fighting her and could focus on her bending/falling in issues.  Jen had me spiral in and out in circles to loosen her up as well as making her march out in both the trot and canter.

She tends to have a nice rhythm in the canter, and because of that people don't push her up as much as they should.  She's pretty long backed, and tends to get strung out because she isn't using her body.  In our warm up fences Jen was having me focus on getting a forward pace and marching down the lines.  It was hard for me since she has a much bigger stride than Buddy to adjust my eye, but Tia's such a good girl she'll jump from anywhere.

Good example of how she jumps when left to her own devices.  Long, hollow, and strung out
We focused most of the lesson on a single outside fence set about half way up the long side.  Tia's main issues is that she really over bends right and drifts left.  I had to counter bend her in the corners going right and think of having a strong wall on the left side with my leg.  It went pretty well then we switched to the left.  Her issue going left is that she falls way in and motorcycles around the turn.  We took a couple circles to fix that but then ran into the problem of too much bend and drifting right.

Jen had me think about what I needed to do (inside left leg to hold her up in the turn, then outside right leg to prevent her from drifting) when I had an epiphany like Jen at Cob Jockey did.  I was using too much left leg after the turn and no matter how much I pushed with my right leg, she wasn't going to listen to it.  As soon as I thought about relaxing my left leg after the turn we found a beautiful, straight line to the fence.  Tia even landed on the left lead (she likes to switch to the right) and cantered off nice and quietly.  I had to go do it again to make sure it wasn't good luck and while the second time wasn't quite as good as the first it was still miles better than normal.  Jen said that for Tia, that's a huge accomplishment and something she needs a lot of work on.  I'm going to try and work her a bit on my own so that by the time my next lesson on her comes we can move on and focus on me instead of me fixing her!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great lesson and fun but challenging horse to ride :)