I had such an amazing ride on Voyager today! We trailered out to the indoor, which he is getting very used to. I did some 3S in-hand work (very brief) before getting on. We worked on stretching out and opening his gullet. We have really had some ‘light bulb’ moments this week with stretching out. I did not have to use a dressage whip because he was staying nicely in front of my leg. I was impressed. I had some really nice transitions. We could not hold the canter for too long, but that ring is so tight that it takes a lot of strength to hold that. We did some stretchy trot as well, which he really enjoys. He was not spooky at all. I was just so impressed by how nice he was staying with me today and really making an effort to stretch out into my contact. He felt very balanced!
Voyager and I had a great ride today. I have really been emphasizing keeping a contact and stretching out. I have even been asking him to pull me a little bit just to get him to go out instead of breaking at the pole. We have had some nice moments, but understandably, he cannot hold it for too long. I have also been working on head-down and stretchy trot on a loose rein. It is amazing how as soon as they start unlocking slightly from getting so ‘stuck’, their energy level starts to increase. I usually have to carry a dressage whip with Voyager, but he was staying in front of my leg pretty nicely today. I was very impressed. We just stayed at walk/trot because the ring was a little questionable (frozen lakes in some places). At least we got a ride in! The weather has not been cooperating too well this week!
Voyager has been doing very well and continues to gain muscle. I have done some two-line driving with him, 3S groundwork/ in-hand work. I have been encouraging him to stretch out into my contact and open his gullet because he still tends to trap himself and break at the pole. I have done a little more work with poles, but I have decided that he most likely has some sort of vision impairment. His spooks have not gotten any better (no that they are that big of a deal), but they disappear when there are no shadows in the ring. Basically, when I ride him in the late morning when the sun is not creating shadows, he is completely fine, but when I ride him late in the afternoon, he spooks much more often. I am not too concerned about this problem. His canter transitions have gotten much nicer and he has been having fewer issues with picking up the left lead. I also have not had any bucking in the canter in weeks. I have ridden him out of the ring, but not out on the trails yet. I was hoping to take him to a dressage show, but it got canceled due to an injured judge! Just our luck! Perhaps he will still be here for the next one.
It was quite freezing today and the arena was frozen solid, but the round pen footing was good in the middle of the day. We worked on some round penning and lunge work. It was too cold to really ask much of him, but we had some really nice moments on the lunge. I started out with just free lunging, working on getting him to be more in tune with my body language. I then put the bridle on and started some 3S groundwork, getting him to stretch down and out into the bridle. I really focused on keeping that stretch in the transitions today. I then hooked him up to the lunge line and slowly started letting the line out. I would continue to ask him to stretch down as I was lengthening the line. I got some really nice stretchy moments in the trot! Probably the best I have ever gotten from him! I was super impressed, especially since he has had a lot of time off with the frozen weather recently. He did do better going to the left. To the right, he was really dropping his outside shoulder, but it improved once I started using the wall of the round pen to guide him around. Once he stopped dropping the outside shoulder, he really started to stretch down to the right as well. It was SO nice! Now I just need to work on getting him stretching under saddle!
I evaluated Voyager in late November/early December. I started off going through the check list of things I always do with new horses. It was obvious to me that he had done a lot of it before (he has definitely been worked on a lunge line and in the round pen). He knew hip over and was very soft throughout his top line. I did girth ropes and foot ropes with him and got very little reaction. The first time I got on him, I had a very difficult time getting him to move or stop (really to do anything). After the first ride, I was questioning whether he was actually broke or not. With each ride, he did advance very quickly and after a week or so, everything seemed to ‘click’ back into place for him. I am now riding him w/t/c. He did have problems with bucking in the left lead canter and had difficulties picking up that lead, but it has been improving. We believe that it is just a matter of strengthening. He is a little spooky. We have been doing a lot of trot pole work and he typically has to spook at them at least once each ride. I have also been working on some basic leg yielding and shoulder in. He has definitely had some dressage training in the past and carries himself quite well. We are working on being able to stretch down and out, as well as opening the gullet. To achieve this, I have been doing in-hand work before most rides. He has been a joy to work with- I hope to be able to take him to a dressage show at some point before he leaves!