It should be clear by now that my relationship with Blackjack needs some R&R. On the one hand, we do seem to have a good time when we're just plodding around and not doing anything serious at all. On the other hand, I can't do a hunter derby wearing a halter and a leopard print bareback pad.

Correction: a halter, a bareback pad, and a mohawk

I went out with the intention to try a different approach to our rides. The biggest thing for me was taking the pressure off and keeping everything straightforward and simple. His schooling bit has also been swapped from a Kimberwick to a Pelham on just the curb ring, essentially creating a Tom Thumb. With that in mind, I wasn't really keen on touching his face much either. It kind of helps since that was also one of the issues I was dealing with during my last lesson.

I decided on a whim to try a new warmup. Because of my own balance issues, I try not to start my ride by going endlessly in one direction then switching to the other direction and doing the same amount of work. That method inevitably closes one hip more than the other and forces me to spend a couple of laps adjusting and trying to fight gravity. Instead, I started off with one lap to the left and two to the right, adding a lap every time I switched directions and asking for more and more suppleness as we continued. The right direction always had one more lap than the left because that is his stiffer side, and I wanted to give his inside hind enough time to loosen before asking for too much. By the time the warmup was done, the total was 15 laps to the left and 20 laps to the right.

He's physically incapable of standing normally on the cross ties.

But the real question remains: did it work? Eh, can't really say. He was just exceptionally stiff from the start of the ride. I couldn't tell if it was some type of soreness or if it had to do with him focusing (again) on everything outside of the ring. Seriously, horse, what is it about me that you just can't stand?? It wasn't a horrible ride but it also wasn't that great. His canter work was 50/50 as he was really struggling to rock back and kept losing his back legs. That isn't completely atypical for him. It's bound to happen at least once per ride, but it did feel like it was happening more frequently than usual. I brought it up to my trainer (I was worried it might have to do with the injections), and she mentioned that he hasn't been at his typical workload as of late.

I'll keep trying. This ride didn't seem as disagreeable as previous ones. Maybe it's a step in the right direction???

What a ham :)


  1. I’m toying with my warm up right now too. Seems maybe promising? Here’s hoping you get good info from the process!

  2. I always do lots of changes of direction in warm up it really helps keep myself from getting stiff and the horse on his toes.


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