Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Duuuuude... Chill........

We interrupt this post to share two relevant links for my fellow bloggers.
Check out Behind the Bit's post about the new Horse blogger group she started

Check out the latest post from Dressage Mom about the contest she has entered. Support a fellow blogger and vote!
Ever wonder what Mr. Golden is up to? I convinced him to write my blog entry last night over at Ethical Eats.
It is June in the sunshine state. Temperatures in the mid 90's with the humidity bringing the heat index up to unspeakable numbers. Everything is sticky and simple tasks outside have now become trials. Why is it then, my fabulous followers,my rotund little golden pony has grown rocket boosters?

Bodhi has always had more whoa than go at the best of times. He is also not a fan of Florida summers, turning into an itching(allergies), sweating, groggy mess. One of my constant training challenges has always been to keep him "light". I would say he varies normally between average to very heavy and slow in his responsiveness. He can be slow as malasis on a hot day. I have ridden him with spur buds and a dressage whip (with my trainers insistence) before. I have been working lately on his responsiveness to my legs with clicker training as well.

When Bodhi was up and charging forward on our conditioning ride in the big pasture I thought that was normal, but on Sunday during our ride in the ring he jumped three caveletties at once (!!!) and leaped into the canter at the slightest leg. Monday I decided to work on tempo regulation and only did trot work but he was super sensitive and as forward as forward can be! We are still in the learning stage of the new bridle but Monday I finally got his head and neck more relaxed and his back more rounded but I had to continually remind him to slow down!

Is this a real problem? I am not sure. If it is, it is a nice problem to have. I have no fear of getting run off with. He still stops on a dime. Yes the haffie power trot is a little exhausting to post, but to actually have a forward horse-- I'll take exuberance even if it is a bit over the top.

So causes of this sudden shift? Here is what I have so far...
  • Bitless bridle a) he feels more free to move forward. I have heard that "lazy" horses can become more forward when you remove the bit? b)he does not like the new bridle and feels anxious about it and wants "to get it over with"
  • He is in shape - we did a ton of rehab and he may be in better shape than he has ever been before.
  • A Maturity thing -young horses go through phases, maybe he is feeling more confident with his better balance and muscle
  • Flax seed=rocket fuel?? he is now on flax seed to help his skin allergy.
  • My upper body= crap. He could be running forward because my upper body is a wet noodle lately.
  • Clicker training; I have been rewarding exuberance and responsiveness lately, especially at the canter. Could this account for his new and improved work ethic? That is what it *feels* like to me. That he is trying really hard to get that click. Unfortunately he is trying too hard.

I am sure it is a combination of several of these things. He definitely feels like he is jumping to conclusions and rushing to answer questions I have not even asked yet. It feels wonderful to have such a enthusiastic student but my role as his teacher now is to ask him to just relax! My challenge will be to find balance in this new issue. Ask him to soften and balance his body off the forehand without loosing that exuberance. If we can shape this wave we will definitely be at a break through.


  1. Hmm, a mystery to solve. I know all about those! At least this is a positive thing. Maybe he'd like to canter over some poles so he has to regulate himself?

  2. Flax seed shouldn't do that - it's mostly fats. I'd look into the other feed he's getting and check out the NSCs (not on the bag usually - you may have to do some research) and carbs, and also find out if the quality/quantity of hay has changed. Good luck!

  3. Good point Kate it should not be the flax seed. He gets about a pound of Seminole Equalizer Ration Balancer a day,http://www.seminolefeed.com/ProductSheetsforWeb/Equalizer.htm
    It is low in NSC (10% is low right?)and carbs. He does not get hay, he is out 24X7 on pasture so I am stumped for the diet explanation.

    Smazourek- he LOVES ground poles and we did some cantering over one. We will move up to two soon though jumping the cavalettes instead of trotting through was counter productive for our tempo work... :)

  4. Flax would not create more energy. Flax=fat.

    A lot of horses either become more lazy or more energetic when bitless. I know Indigo got a whole new gear with all commands about jumping right on them, not waiting to see what the next step was. Her old owner said if I found her lazy to ride her with spurs because she always did. Shes everything but lazy that energetic horse of mine. I couldn't imagine riding her with them, she would be over the great blue yonder before I knew it.

    Question, does your bitless have a strap/rope/etc that tightens under the chin when you pull back? This would have an effect on the mental nerve, which can cause anxiety due to pain. Let me know if it does or doesn't.

  5. My bitless has a "curb" rope under the chin. It does get tighter when you pull per say but could easily cause pressure if it is too tight I would think. I keep it loose. Since it is just a side pull I worry about it being to much pressure on the nose.

  6. Are you still wearing the spurs? That might make him twitchy (it would me :o) How do you feel about working with him? Excited? Anxious? Our feelings (even the ones we're not so aware of) can have a definite influence on equine behavior. Just a thought...

  7. Haha good point Jen. No, no more spurs :) I don't think it is my mood in this instance either, I feel pretty calm. Never know though! I get really nervous on trail rides which I think makes him more jumpy then he would be naturally so he definitely reads my emotions well.