New Bridle and New Skills

GUYS.  The cute:


Thanks to JenJ alerting me to it, I scored this used Nunn Finer Figure 8 off English Tack Trader.  I always thought he'd look good in a figure 8, but since I had other bridles that worked, I wasn't able to justify buying one unless the price was right.

"Hello, there."


If only he'd had that bridle on here, to complete the faux-jumper look.

He responded to his jumper bridle by being a serious jumping machine in our lesson last night.  We first worked on adjustability in the canter, and then got to jumping, 2'0 verticals and a 2'3 oxer at first, then the oxer was raised to 2'6.

The whole night, he was doing automatic simple changes - and they were GOOD.  It's so amazing to me.  It's the clearest example of the many-years-long green horse training process I've seen so far with him, because so many steps went into that one thing.

Before, just a couple of months ago, he'd land on the wrong lead and I'd have to compose myself, bring him down, control that wild trot and then ask for the canter.  My trainer has been on to me to push him to do a quicker simple for a long time, we always had 4-6 trot strides in between.

After that one lesson with the crazy turns followed by the straightness over fences lessons, he's doing them all by himself, and with just the tiniest moment of trot stride in between.  I don't even think it's a full stride.

Photo by my mom


The process for those automatic simples (that's a thing, right?  That's what I am calling them. I'm in no way initiating that, besides turning him), as I see it:

First, he has to know that we're not done after this fence.  

Next, he has to know that he should still be cantering (vs just breaking to the trot to avoid the awkward wrong-lead canter).

Next, he has to know from previous experience that things will be more comfortable for him if he's on the opposite lead, and he has to want to be on the opposite lead. 

Next, he has to know what to do to fix it, or, as my trainer said, "We've given him the tools and he's using them now."

Finally, he has to coordinate his body enough to fix it.  I know we're not talking about flying changes - although he's done one in each of my last two lessons, and maybe those aren't as far off as I thought they were.  But we're talking about a horse that, two years ago, couldn't get information from my aids, to his brain, to his feet quickly enough to pick up the canter.  Now, he's nailing simple changes with the smallest trot stride possible in between, without me doing a thing (because I'm probably still gathering my reins from the last fence, let's be honest.)


Maybe this all won't be amazing to me 20 years from now when I've been through this process a few times, but for now?  It's freakin amazing.  I can point to this one thing and say, "This horse LEARNED this thing, and here's the two year process it took to teach it to him."

Getting more rideable all the time.


Google keeps Instagramming my pictures.


35 comments:

  1. #1 HE LOOKS SO CUTE IN THE FIGURE 8! #2 You guys have grown in leaps and bounds this year, so proud of you both!

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  2. FLYING CHANGES! OMG! This pleases me greatly. I cannot wait! He finds walk/canter so easy, I wouldn't be surprised if changes are one of those things that are outrageously simple for him to get.

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    1. Yeah, I'm with you, I think he'll really take to them. I know next to nothing about putting a flying on a horse, but I am cautiously optimistic that he'll get them easily. He haaaaates being off-balance, and once he finds that flyings are easier/faster than his little simple, he should choose them.

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  3. That second to last photo is especially darling- love me some curious pony face. The new bridle looks great!

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    1. Thanks! I love me some curious pony face too.

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  4. Loooooooooooove him in the figure 8!

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    1. Thanks! I figured you, as a jumper lover, and Aimee, as a right-bridle-for-the-head-shape lover, would love it.

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  5. Google keeps "auto awesoming" my pics too, sometimes they are cool, sometimes not. The Fig 8 looks really good on him!

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  6. Replies
    1. He's rocking it for sure. I bet Emi will look good in one too someday.

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  7. Yep, rockin' that bridle!

    And sometimes it's the little things that took so much to build that are the most amazing. Ah, the process of riding!

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    1. Totally. So much work goes into that one little moment. It wouldn't be as fun if they could talk and we could get this accomplished in minutes instead of years, would it?

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  8. Omg the cuteness! He looks so awesome in that bridle <3

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  9. Replies
    1. Me too. I've never had one before, so my trainer helped me adjust it. I like it a lot though.

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  10. I love figure eights!! Is he cob or horse size?

    Yay for figuring out the changes! C-rage knows his flying changes (the whole racehorse thing, obv) and he's figured out how to fit them in to our tiny arena. It's glorious.

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    1. True, racehorses have a leg up on saddle horses in that regard - really they do in a lot of regards, after seeing and doing so much from such a young age. Go C-rage!!

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  11. God he's cute! And woohoo for good lessons! Why did you decide to put him in the figure 8?

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    1. For funsies. Haha. No real physical reason, he doesn't cross his jaw over or anything. I just knew it would be flattering on his head, and our previous jump bridle was a $30 India painted leather bridle that needed to gooooo.

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  12. Replies
    1. It's all over the place! I guess it hasn't made an appearance on the blog in a while, since he'd been living in bonnets for so long.

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  13. He looks so good with the figure 8! And yay for the flying changes, I'm sure he'll learn them quickly :)

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    1. I hope so! I'm sure you have had experience with them, we eventers don't really need them until the very top levels of the sport.

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  14. Holy cuteness!! A figure 8 is one of those "eventery" things I had always coveted and I finally got a good deal on a used one this summer. I *think* my horse likes it too...

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    1. We are pretty much the same! It just looks eventery, and it looks good on his head, I think.

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  15. ooh he looks great in that bridle!! and congrats on his new learned skill :)

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  16. That bridle looks amazing on him!

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  17. SO glad there are others who brought one of these bridles because they looked good! Haha I would hate to be the only one who just thought they were cute and so bought one lol.
    Yay for new tricks, Connor! Simple changes are something I need to work on with oscar. Good work :)

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    1. I'm sure it will help with his jaw opening issue too, but mainly yes, it just looks good on his head shape compared to a regular caveson. Simple changes are exciting!

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