Dressy has a young girl riding her right now. Brooke is 16, and is planning to ride her in competition this year. She comes every Sunday to ride (and to clean my barn… which is really quite awesome!). Dressy is a very affectionate mare, and Brooke pampers her. So Dressy is really in love with her girl.
Brooke is learning basic clicker training principles. Dressy is of course highly food motivated as well as being affectionate. So they are making good progress.
Last Sunday, they worked on trying to get Dressy into a bit of a frame. While she’s lovely to ride in many ways, Dressy is not a naturally collected or supple sort of horse. She’s a Standardbred who raced for quite a few years. So she raced in an overcheck on the pace (a gait similar to a trot but a bit faster). Which means that she tends to want to carry herself with her head up and her back hollow. That’s the opposite of what you want to see (or feel) in a riding horse. A horse who is hollow like that doesn’t bend well either, which makes them something of a hazard to your knees if you are riding on a winding trail through trees. She has improved a lot over the last couple of years, but having the last year off has allowed her to revert somewhat.
The trails were (and still are) just awful out there right now. Ice and mud. Still. So I told Brooke she could ride Dressy in the round pen and work on basics. Circles and suppling exercises. The footing is slippery, so it all had to be at a walk. Then I looked out to see that she’d started clicker training her to put her head down and walk in a frame. Dressy was very enthusiastic about it all and got herself a bit overbent on occasion. But it was obviously a happy and productive day for both of them. Brooke was glowing at the end of the session, totally impressed with Dressy’s brilliance. And Dressy just looked smug. And full.