Sometimes I get so wrapped up in what I need to work on with Possum and all of the things we aren't doing that I thought I would take a chance to talk about all of the things that we are doing well and have mastered.
Walk canter transitions- Ever since I got Possum 5 and a half years ago even the prospect of clean walk-canter transitions seemed impossible. From way back even cantering from a trot was bone jarring. Then half way through last year it all seemed to come together. I didn't even have to think about it. I just collected him a little, sat slightly back on my seat bones and outside leg slightly behind the girth and away we went. It's really cool to feel it done right, he just sits on his hind end and pushes off into a nice collected canter depart. I love it!!!
Breaking at the poll- Because of Possum's build, his resistence to the bit over years of abuse and his natural stubborn nature, having him travel on the bit has been a huge struggle. It was about 3 years ago that he finally got the concept after a huge struggle and it was like the light bulb went on. He was able to soften at the poll and round his back and really come through with his hind end. It still requires a lot of skill by the rider of getting him all together, but it is doable. So he can actually look and move like a big grown up horse.
Good jumping form- as with most green horses, working on good jumping form takes time and patience with gymnastics and lots of trotting jumps. It takes them time to get comfortable in using their back and rounding over the jumps as opposed to hollowing out and dragging forelegs. I can say with pride now that Possum has really good form over jumps, expecially when his rider (me) gets him to the right spots. As George Morris likes to call it, his legs are up by his eyeballs. As long as he's no rushing his form looks really nice and correct over the jumps.
Jump Heights- Never in a million years would I have ever thought that Possum could jump a 4'6" fence. He has really gotten more athletic and has developed a good eye for jumping. We're still working on courses of about 3'3" and above, but the concept is there and it's just putting it all together.
Spooking- I have really never needed to worry about spooking with Possum. He is brave and honest and is willing do do just about anything that I ask him. We have really developed a trusting relationship and he knows that I take care of him and he takes care of me. People are always commenting at the barn on how my horse will do anything for me. That feels really good.
Horse and owner relationship- Over the years Possum and I have really developed a great relationship with one another. We started out almost 6 years ago with a dislike for one another and now we really love each other. Everytime I go to the barn he comes over to the gate to be let out. He follows me everywhere. After a ride in the indoor lots of time I'll get off and walk him in hand. But I don't even have to hold onto him. He goes where ever I go. People always say that I'm working on my natural horsemanship, but I tell them it's just horsemanship and trust. We play games on foot like tag and also I can jump over jumps on foot and he'll follow me jumping all of the jumps that I do. After I took a dunk in a pond last year in sub zero temps he really saved my life by bringing me safely back to the barn. He could have bucked or taken a mis step and I would have come off in a frozen pile. But I wrapped my arms around his neck and he carried me the 2 miles home and promptly stopped outside the arena so people could help me. I'm able to take him to parades, swimming at the pond, cross country, snow tubing and anything else that I can think of.
Even though I would never think of Possum as my "dream horse" he is my best friend. He may not be the best show horse or the prettiest or best moving guy out there, but he tries for me and love him for that. So sometimes instead of thinking of all the things we need to do, it's nice to look back on all that we have accomplished. He knows I'll never sell him no matter what happens in my life. Hell, I think he'd kill someone if I tried to get rid of him hahaha. It's also nice hearing all the little comment from everyone at the barn and everyone that knows us like at the shows. Last year at a show I was riding Moonshine and people who I didn't even know came up to me and asked where my appy was and talked about how they can see he loves to jump and tries his hardest and that we really work well as a team. That means a lot to me that people recognize all the hard work we put into things and the relationship that we have with one another.
Below is a pic that someone snapped of Possum and I last spring without us knowing it. We were sharing a moment together and communicating in our own way.