Monday, May 9, 2011

Day 57, 58, 59, and 60 - Abbe Ranch Clinic

Photo by Katherine Payne Photography
Thanks for your patience everyone!  I have lots of photos and videos of our first weekend away from home, and took a some time to get everything organized.  Marley and I made huge progress this weekend, and even won "most improved horse" in our division! Thank you to our instructor for the weekend, Francis O'Reilly, and to Susan and Dick Farmer for continuing to make Abbe Ranch clinics and horse trials a very special part of Colorado eventing.  Being at the clinic this weekend brought back lots of great memories of camping out with our horses, Hunter Hill Pony Club's best ever DCs Kim and Cindy (who came prepared year after year with kiddie pools and endless supplies of snacks), and all of the years of training and competing in this area.

To make it easier to read, I'll put Friday first, rather than the most recent date at the top. 


Day 57

Photo by Katherine Payne Photography
Today is the start of our first weekend away!  We spent the morning at the barn preparing and packing everything we would need for the weekend.  I decided to ride Marley before we left so that he would be nice and calm, and we had a great ride.  He was very quiet with 2 horses in the arena, and overall, we got a lot accomplished.  After a great ride it was bath time!  He is getting very comfortable in the wash rack.
Photo by Katherine Payne Photography
Hanging out with Marley while he dries
Photo by Katherine Payne Photography
Photo by Katherine Payne Photography



I was really curious to see how Marley was going to be coming off the trailer in a new location with LOTS of new horses.  As he usually does though, he surprised me and backed willingly off the trailer and walked calmly to his temporary stall for the weekend.  Marley's biggest concern when we arrived was making sure he ate every last bit of grass growing in his pen, and I'm happy to report that he accomplished this task in a record breaking 25 minutes.  Go Marley.

  Jake saying "hello " to Marley before unloading                              Calmly backing off the trailer      
Photo by Forever Yours Photography
Photo by Forever Yours Photography

  Treats for staying calm
Photo by Forever Yours Photography

Marley meets his neighbor
Photo by Forever Yours Photography
After letting Marley settle in a little bit, I walked him down to the check in area to sign in and get our stall information posted.  Marley was a little worried as we passed some horses working in the arena, but we just stopped at watched them for a little bit and he relaxed again.  It was a great first night away from home, and I'm really encouraged by Marley's reaction to his new surroundings.  I can't wait for our first lesson tomorrow!

Checking out the other horses
Photo by Forever Yours Photography

Photo by Forever Yours Photography

Photo by Forever Yours Photography


Day 58

Today we had to check in tacked up and ready to ride at 8:15.  Everyone (about 80 riders) showed up already mounted and looking sharp for dressage.  I however showed up in full cross country gear leading Marley rather than riding him.  I figured that I would wait to throw him into a giant group of eager horses until I actually found out how he was going to be with this whole new experience.

Once we were divided into our respective groups and assigned an arena, Marley and I headed off to arena 5 with our trainer for the weekend, Francis O'Reilly.  Marley followed me willingly but was a little bit nervous when the other horses in our group started warming up.  Luckily for us, we were in one of the smaller groups, only 5 people, but the arena was much smaller than Marley was used to and in turn there was a lot of activity with all 5 of us riding in the same small space.

Marley spent the first 20 minutes or so figuring out his surroundings.  We worked a lot on the quality of our transitions and straightness (which we really needed), and my personal goal with Marley was to have him comfortable moving around with the other horses by the end of the lesson.  We accomplished a lot and even did some canter work to finish up the session.  It was really great to get some feedback, and I was much less nervous about the rest of the weekend now that I knew a little bit of what to expect from Marley.

Our second lesson today was a gymnastics session held out in the cross country field.  Marley was curious and looking around but he was calm and stood still while I got on.  I spent the first few minutes walking him through the grids so he could see everything, and then I warmed him up and let him gallop for the first time outside of an arena.  He absolutely loved it, and I was having a great time letting him move out.
Warming up
Photo by Forever Yours Photography


Photo by Forever Yours Photography
Once we were warmed up, Francis had each person in our group trot over the poles for each grid line.  Most of the other horses in our group were green as well, so it was nice to have everyone on the same page as far as taking it slow and going through each step before moving up.  Eventually Francis changed the poles into cross rails and small verticals.  Marley was having trouble understanding that he was now expected to actually jump the obstacles rather than just picking his feet up higher to get over it.  To address this, we worked on trotting up to each jump and then the last stride asked for a canter.  After a couple attempts, Marley figured it out and awkward as it may have been, he actually started jumping each obstacle rather than just trotting up to it.  This will be important when we get to the cross country course and Marley will have to clear obstacles that don't fall down if he hits them.

Photo by Forever Yours Photography
 Starting with cross rails
Photo by Forever Yours Photography
 Learning to Jump
Photo by Forever Yours Photography
 Cantering Jumps                                                       Good Boy!      
Photo by Forever Yours Photography
Photo by Forever Yours Photography
The best part of the lesson today was the progress that Marley made with the other horses.  He was so relaxed and each time we stopped to wait our turn, Marley stood quietly next to the other horses and riders on a loose rein.  A couple of times we had another horse run up behind us, and the only reaction Marley gave was perking his ears.  So much progress in one day, I'm so proud of him!  Tomorrow we are doing cross country for both lessons.  For the morning lesson we will meet at the water jump, and Mike will be there to video.  So excited!

Hanging out with the team
Photo by Forever Yours Photography
Day 59

Marley was AWESOME today!!  My little horse is developing confidence and turning into quite the eventer!  Each time we approached a new obstacle he would slow down to take a look, but he never straight up refused and trusted me each time I asked him to proceed.

video 

We started the morning off at the water jump.  Marley was awesome.  He was a little unsure when we first walked up to the water, but with some coaxing he walked through like a champ, then up and out the bank on the other side of the obstacle.  When we came to the water from the other direction and I asked Marley to drop down the small bank into the water, he was much more apprehensive.  He was never bad or backed off, and after a few moments of trying to figure out what to do, he dropped in and looked quite pleased with himself with all of the praise he received.  After going through just once each direction, Marley was trotting and cantering through the water, and was even the "lead" horse for one that didn't want to go in.

Marley Figures Out the Water Jump
video

Over Fences
video


video

For our afternoon lesson we worked on jumping small cross country fences and putting mini courses together.  Marley was even cantering fences by the end of the day, and was so confident and relaxed that I opted to finish early and quit while we were ahead.  We have made so much progress, and all it would take is for him to get too tired or to trip up at a jump and scare himself and everything we have worked towards this weekend could be set back.  I got off of him and loosened his girth, and we walked back to the stalls to start packing up.

Jake came to get us that evening and Marley traveled home well.  He was so tired and I made sure to give him lots of extra bedding to relax in.

Day 60 - A Day Off! 

Photo by Katherine Payne Photography
Marley looked alert and happy today, but I didn't want to push him after such a long weekend so I gave him a much deserved day off instead.  We didn't do any ground work or training, we simply spent some time together and relaxed.  Marley got lots of carrots today and I brushed him up which he really likes.  He loves the curry comb and always closes his eyes during a good brushing.  It will be back to work tomorrow, but for today we'll just relax and take it easy.

5 comments:

  1. Wow, terrific!!! He jumps really well for a horse who's never done it before...

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love your gentle ways and patience. Marley looks like he is relaxed and happy. "A willing spirit...yet no slave." He has come so far from being a wild mustang. I have seen others in mustang makeovers force their mustang to lay down with all kinds of ropes tied around legs and butt...too much, too fast. You could see the fear in the eyes. Not Marley though. Give him a carrot for me! Beautiful partnership and respect.

    All your patience will pay off...it already has. Terry

    ReplyDelete
  3. Was a joy watching...How wonderful to go out into a big field and just ride...He has a beautiful flow about him....

    ReplyDelete
  4. He was awesome, GOOD BOY MARLEY! Great job Lauren. ♥

    ReplyDelete
  5. Lauren you and Marley are doing wonderful! Can't wait for the opportunity to meet you! There will be many tears shed on adoption day as these wonderful Mustangs are transitioned to thier next leg of thier lifes journey.
    melody

    ReplyDelete