Sunday, March 11, 2012

Teaching lateral flexion at the poll in an OTTB


It's not as easy as it sounds.

Cash has this lovely little track habit of when there is contact on the bit to twist his head to the right and chew incessantly at the bit. Chew. Chew. Chew. And because his head is turned to the side, he is most definitely not flexing properly at the poll.

Under saddle it is just a process of being patient, very very patient. And gently correcting him every time he tries to twist his head to the side. At the halt I flex his head back and forth, teaching him to give from the reins, and then use this skill while walking. This is also starting to teach him the basis of bending through his body.

I'm also just starting to teach him to move off my leg by teaching turns on the forehand, and starting to teach a reinback. Both I've only done once, but hey, gotta start somewhere!! I think I'm going to move him from a regular caveson to a drop noseband to help avoid the chewing. He needs to accept the bit, not gnaw at it.

Otherwise, I'm really pleased with his progress. Today we had a bit of a discussion about going where I ask him to go. We have 4 blue barrels at my barn, and they get moved around daily, so they are always in a new spot, there is also a garden right next to the arena and they recently set up a small greenhouse cover for a row of plants. Well, Mr Cash decided he wanted nothing to do with any of that, and didn't want to get near those spots. I said otherwise. At first he just tried to pop his shoulder and shy away, when I just brought him around again, he'd balk and do this slow motion spin on the haunches. What's funny is all of this, it was never out of the blue, he would just slowly progress in his level of "spook". I just remained very insistent with my leg, seat, and reins that "yes, you are going to go over to that area"

Took me oh about 5-10 minutes to get that point across, but I think he got it :) I'm sure he got away with spooks like that at the track, but in my world, that's a no-can-do.

Overall, he's been awesome so far! Super smart, willing, and sane.


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