Ideas to "up the ante" on the flat
New OTTB, Brolio, is doing really well, but we had a serious "patience is a virtue" type of lesson this morning. It was his first day working on jumping small courses. He's been doing really well with gymnastic exercises and single fences, adding it all together makes him...erm, a hyperactive jerk at times. We played with bits today and ended up with a straight kimberwick with a slight port, the french link and dr bristol snaffles just didn't quite get his attention when he was being particularly dork-like. He does get jumped with a running martingale (tried once today without, we didn't exactly "die" but I like my nose how it is). He never said "no" to any of the fences, it was more rushing and jerking the reins. Lots of verbal and physical praise when he does things well. Trainer is happy with how he's coming along in between fences with a nice pace and jumping everything, it's just right before the fences is interesting at times.
I think part of his issue is that new, harder stuff wigs him out for whatever reason. He had temper tantrums with the gymnastics at first, then finally seemed to get the lightbulb turned on and now we're good as gold. He waits for the exercise and goes through smoothly. I think another part is that when we have jump sessions they typically run longer (even though he gets breaks as we ride with another person) and he gets mentally tired. The tighter left turns really are an issue when he gets "temperamental," totally blows through my leg (with spur) and whip behind the leg which usually morphs into (new today) hitting the wall and backing up. He even reared up today, that was new:eek:! We did end up on a good note, but it seemed to take forever especially when my ankle connected with a standard at the beginning:mad:
On the flat, he really is not too difficult. I try to keep it interesting with transitions within the gaits, staying off the rail, serpentines, circles, leg yields, ground poles. When it's nice out, we go out for solo or group hacks, which he behaves like he's been doing that his whole life. If I choose to do "harder" flat work and he does well, I keep it short. Problem is, he picks up that stuff pretty quickly, so he might not be getting as much work or a longer work out. Once a week I try to do a conditioning ride, even in the ring, with trot and canter sets.
Since I can't jump courses everyday with him, I think I need to really start challenging him on the flat more. Get him to understand the appropriate response to doing harder things does not equal temper tantrums, if you ignore my aids, harder and harsher ones will be applied until an appropriate response is given. Rearing is an absolute sin and will absolutely NOT be tolerated. So what more challenging exercises do other people use to keep their horses nicely tuned?
It's a good thing he shows some serious scope...