First rides on Romulus!
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Thursday, March 28, 2024 09:06 PM
Romulus now is almost 3 years old. He is just over 170 cm towering over me with his big withers and long neck. He has been absolute delight to work with and now is time to mount him and initiate riding. I started preparing him for that pretty much since he came to me two and a half years ago as a weanling. All my work was tailored to the fact that I am raising a future riding horse.
- He lunges really well - walk, trot, canter, without side-reins and with them. Also, I drive him to the field and lunge him there.
- His work in hand progressed to leg-yields, shoulder-in, turns on the forehand, reinback, walk-trot transitions, going to the bit. I can combine these movements and string them into a flow, he is learning square halts.
- Plus, work at a mounting block prepared him to stand quietly, to feel the load into a stirrup, then laying over across his back, then finally mounting.
- I have been taking him and Santo to local indoor arena twice a week. So he loads without hesitation, stands tied in the arena while I work Santo, met other horses there and tried to behave :)
I started mounting him at the end of January. I did it at home with a help of my husband holding a lunge line. First time was just that - mounting. I got on, he stood, I pet him and dismounted. Next time I mounted 3 times with a few walk steps after each mount. He felt disorganized and uncoordinated in his walk steps. Since then, twice a week we slowly progressed to walking around my ring. At first I was led, now I ride and the lunge line is simply a precaution as I do not have a fence around my arena. The rides are 3 min of walk total with change of direction. At the beginning of March I started riding him in indoor arena without a lunge line. Now he is walking comfortably, nice and forward, stretching his neck.
Except couple first rides where I was a total passenger and was led around I am caring a whip with me and gently using it to guide Romulus in the correct direction or remind him to keep a certain walk speed. I do it when a normal aid is not enough. Because I worked with him using whip since the beginning it doesn't bother him, he doesn't get scared or upset. He simply responds to it because he knows what it is. Now that he cannot see me and doesn't yet know what leg aid is this familiar tool is of great help. Many riders starting young horses afraid to use a whip and prefer booting their horses. I despise booting, it is soo unsightly, sounds awful and horses resent it. Light touch/tap of the whip is simple, quick, effective and almost invisible in a skilled hand.
Reading above paragraphs sounds like it all unicorns and flowers. :) We had our share of miscommunications, especially, with lunging. There were bucks, attempts to run away, moments of tension and being scared of tack. However, they were rare and far in between. My most important motto with young horses is breaking the learning process into as small steps as possible, taking my time. Even though initial backing was successful and I did take a deep breath after a few rides :) there is no assumption in me that nothing can happen. Every time I mount him, I am alert, attentive and ready. I do not dread, hope or assume. I simply progress slowly, build on the previous lessons and understand that anything can happen.
We have a vet check coming up soon to assess Romulus development, joints health and soundness. Until then no change in the work load. If everything checks out OK (fingers crossed) I will introduce trot under saddle on the lunge line and incrementally start building on that. He will be 3 only in June, I have a lot of time. My goal is to get him going walk, trot, canter under saddle by the end of the summer with couple short rides per week. Plus another session a week of ground work.
Happy riding...
 
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My blog is about teaching, riding and training. I share what is important to me in my work with horses and riders. The writing helps me to think things over and have a better understanding of training ideas and priciples.
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