Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ocala Boot Camp

I think this picture pretty much sums up the way that things went in Ocala this past weekend. I took Smarty and Morris (and Richard and Gunsmoke, sorry to have to leave Lara behind but there was a whole herd to train back there in Aiken!!) and off we went fully expecting for Karen to whip us into shape in a matter of days. And that is exactly what happened!
We got to spend the weekend stabled at Longwood, which in itself is an amazing experience. I just would like to tell Smarty that he has some serious 'earning' to do, landing in the US, and then residing at places like Shag Hill in Aiken and Longwood in Ocala. Smarty - you owe me lol! Actually, I think he started to earn it a little, such a smart horse. He got better and better every day. Karen had him figured out pretty quickly and he spent the rest of his lessons cantering over ten thousand poles on the ground. Yes, you must steer. No, you may not buck with every flying change. There is always one more stride. Always. It was great for Karen to give me so many things to work on, I have a whole new plan for the jumping arena when we set it this week. She also stressed time and again not to be too hard on him. Yes, he needs very strict perimeters! But he needs lots of walk breaks, lots of pats, and lots of encouragement. We want him to work hard because he loves his job. I do believe that keeping that spunky little part of him alive is what is going to help separate him from the rest of the pack at the upper levels. He is set to run another training level at Southern Pines this coming weekend, and then we are going to determine what April is looking like for Playtime.
For Morris, well he wishes he got to do poles and jumps every day like Smarty did! Sadly, however, Mr. M spent most of his time in Ocala in the sandbox. Karen had me working on a variety of different exercises set to help Morris get more supple, which in turn is going to help pump up the volume in the dressage arena. It is always a fine line between pumping up the volume and still having him under control. He tries so hard that at times he is his own worst enemy. Already by my last lesson we were really getting the hang of how the new and improved Morris feels. We had some great flying changes and also some really good, relaxed work after doing said flying changes. We spent one lesson working entirely on Advanced Test A, and I feel like I really have a good plan of attack for how to use the arena and get the most out of my horse come Friday at Southern Pines. Don't worry, Morris got to jump a little. Actually, what he jumped was quite big lol. And then we mixed it up with a lot of cavaletti type exercises to keep the brain and the feet sharp. We need brain and feet of everybody working together this weekend as we make our Advanced debut at Southern Pines. Wish us luck!

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