Friday, October 31, 2014

Falling Down

Every since I have started talking about Frosty on this blog, the biggest ongoing 'training' thing with him has been increasing his ability to extend through the shoulder...as well as the ribcage.

I had an interesting conversation with my farrier the other day...I always have the best conversations with that guy...I get these ideas that sort of float around in my head, but don't really come together in a cohesive thought and then I talk to him and Boom!! It all comes together.

Once again, I have been having problems with Frosty stumbling. Stumbling to the point where he has fallen completely down in the front end with me. And he is hitting himself with his hinds again. Clack, clack, clack...Almost every stride. It's ridiculous. So I asked the farrier to refresh my memory of those exercises he gave me the last time Frosty was stumbling and hitting himself. I remembered the bumping of alternate sides to try to get his shoulders speeded up, but they weren't helping much this time. My farrier rattled off a couple of things, but then he stopped what he was doing and looked me straight in the face and told me, 'You knowwwww...The best thing might be just to over and under the big, lazy jerk and wake his butt up'. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the farrier's new assistant straighten up and look at him wide-eyed. I think he was dumbfounded to hear his new boss tell one of his clients to whip on her horse. I busted out laughing. Partly due to the assistant's expression, partly because I know my farrier is right. Frosty IS a big, lazy jerk!! He isn't stumbling because of a physical reason, we've already been down that path and eliminated possible reasons. He's stumbling because he is soooo lazy that he forgets to actually pick his feet up and move them.

We moved on to talking about a little meatier subject...We were discussing how freakin' cool Little John is and how awesome he is going to be as a barrel horse. The discussion turned to how big a stride LJ had for such a little horse. He's not over-extending, but every since he learned how to stretch out in the pasture, his stride has really lengthened and he can flat cover the ground. I pointed at Frosty and said, 'If that horse had 1/2 the stride as this little horse, he'd be running 18's on the pattern now instead of just loping along in the 19's' (Using a standard sized pattern for reference).

My farrier took that opportunity to tell me that, while he wasn't trying to tell me my business, but he thought I was wasting my time with Frosty.

This is NOT the first time I have had people tell me that. To be perfectly honest, I have always wondered if Frosty will top out where I think he should. It's one of those things...I know Frosty is not a f.a.s.t. horse. He will probably always get outrun on a big, fast-ground pattern. But, I can still feel, in my gut, that this horse has a ton more to give me. Whether I can get him to give it up or not...Well, that is the big question.

While that comment was mulling around in my head, my farrier stepped over to Frosty and placed his hand on the top of his shoulder and said, '...And this is why!'. Okay, finally someone who is going to give me a valid reason why they don't think Frosty will be successful. My farrier continued, 'Because this horse is straight in the shoulder and as heavy as a buffalo. He cannot extend that shoulder to increase his stride length and that is where your speed comes from'.

Suddenly everything in my head clicked. I didn't bother to tell the farrier that *I* don't think Frosty has a straight shoulder, nor do I think he is overly heavy built in the shoulder. The horse is big all the way around. Frosty certainly isn't any straighter or heavier made in the shoulder than Little John is (relative to overall size). It would serve no purpose to argue with my farrier because he had just made me remember the ONE thing I worked on continuously with Frosty last winter...

Getting him to extend through the shoulder and stretch through his ribcage. THAT IS where stride length comes from and whatever speed a horse has, follows that movement.

Now we have work to do!!


To Be Continued...

8 comments:

Shirley said...

Trust your gut instincts! What are the things you do to stretch that ribcage and extend the shoulder? I suspect another blog post on that will be upcoming ;0)

Cut-N-Jump said...

Keep in mind though, the horse can only extend their front leg to the length of their poll. However far out ahead their poll is, that's as far as they can reach in their stride, be it w/t/c or a full out run.

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Okay ?? ....An interesting bit of trivia knowledge, but I guess I don't really see where you were going with that comment, CnJ.

Chelsi said...

There is no doubt that you have a talent for making a horse the best he can be- physically, mentally, in fitness, training, seasoning. You put so much in to your horses. It seems you are so driven to uncovering the less obvious talent or helping a horse overcome a physical issue, or mental issue. From what I understand you grew up raising horses in a very literal but also figurative sense- you have grown up creating and developing horses and it was a great asset to know how to recognize the ones with hidden value and talent. You have this huge advantage in having great instinct and such a huge amount of experience... BUT... I wonder what you could do if you had a horse to run that was just straight up freaky talented, good minded, hard running, physically sound and already solid on a pattern. A horse that didn't have anything to overcome... one who needs a good pilot, good physical maintenance and conditioning and the close care and training you can offer in terms of getting them to the top of their game at the right pace and with the right support. I know all horses have their quirks... they all have something. Im not saying you don't have nice horses. But you like the diamond in the rough. Egh! I really don't mean to say that your horses are "in the rough" because they are freakin' awesome horses!! But in the rough in terms of running at the level that YOU should be running at! I would just love to see you on a horse that hit the ground with all the cut, clarity, color and carrats that one could hope for. If that horse is LJ that is cool. But there are years between now and when that horse will be ready to run pro. It seems to me that you are ready now. You are ready to be winning big races. You don't have a horse ready to win big races. You want Frosty to be best that he can be. You want to see that speed that you know is in there... and I want to see the speed that is in YOU. I want to see YOU run at the top of your game on an evenly matched horse. I could be really sassy and ask you whether you are letting your horses hold you back for some reason? But I'm a little scared of you so I wont *big grin* Financially, I do understand what a huge investment it is to buy a horse already at the level with talent to go further... BUT... I also know that it is a major investment to cut away at those diamonds that have more to over come. *ducks head* please don't hit me! LOL

Chelsi said...

Have to say- the above comment is a reflection of a conversation I had with a top reined cow horse trainer I had at an horse expo last year. I told him that I was really hoping to develop a breeding program and asked whether he had any advice for up and coming stallions worth looking at. I also told him that for years I had sat on the sidelines while my horses were in training and being shown. His answer shocked me. He said he hated breeding. He said the worst investment he ever made was in buying this really cool cutting stallion and trying to raise colts. He said that his interest is in winning championships and in order to win championships you had to great horses. He said a bunch about how he would rather buy long yearling propsects and get to pick and chose the traits he wants rather than hope for them but he also said about how often his clients are mounted on horses that are keeping them from winning but they wont switch up horses because they are so invested in the idea of what that horse could be. He told me that if I wanted to win I needed to be willing to invest in as good of a horse as I could possibly afford and then be willing to let it go and move on if that horse didn't get me where I wanted to go or took me as far as it could. He really felt that getting hung up on horses was a downfall but most people don't have the heart that to use horses that way. I agreed with some of what he said and left advice behind. I had asked him if Abby would cut and he said I could certainly try to make a cutter out of her but it was a waste of money... that people also have a hang up at the idea of buying their way to the top. It isn't possible to buy your way there... but it is nearly impossible to not buy your self at least part way there as you have to have the horse under you and you have to kiss a lot of frogs. Those ideas really got me thinking. I have invested a lot of money in to Ghala, Abby and Hola and they are really nice horses with talent... but if I had put that same money in to myself (in to a horse I could win on)... well, who knows what would have happened. My point in writing what I did was to ask whether you are investing in yourself, your dream and your goal or are you investing it in to your horse being the best he can be. I really have to shut up now:)

Cindy D. said...

Ah, but then there is that moment when your horse, the one that you bred and raised and trained, the one that no one else believed in, suddenly "gets it". He finds his niche, and starts to excel and that is what makes it worth while. More so, in my opinion, than buying someone else's top horse.

fernvalley01 said...

I read your most recent post first, nuff said

Shirley said...

Like Cindy and Sherry said. Personally, I think there is more satisfaction in raising and training a horse to be the best he can be than to just buy a "product" so that you can go out and win and just get the glory of winning. It is so much more rewarding to be the person who got that horse to the top.