OK, so The Downeast Medal Finals are slightly less than a month away. I rode Possum Thursday and Friday last week and both in the ring. Thursday was challenging but I could see some noticeable progress. I did switch to my bridle with the Happy Mouth Elevator for some added leverage. It did help some in getting him to halt in lines quicker and help to lift his shoulders instead of leaning on the Pelham. He can't lean on my hands as much with the elevator. Now some of you might be scratching your heads and wonder why I have to do all this bit switching and talking about heavy on my hands, because really a horse is only as heavy as you will let them. Let me start off by saying that Possum has some permanent nerve damage to his mouth from his past abuse. What Possum works best off of is poll pressure. He actually does great in a Hackamore, but unfortunately those are illegial in hunters and eq, I could use one in jumpers. So with added nerve damage, being naturally built downhill and riding like a 1929 dump truck; you can start to see where my problems are hahaha.
Hes a very good boy. He would never buck or rear or be dangerous in any way, but he is also not an easy ride. He has a very straight shoulder which makes his trot bone jarring. He has a neck that is on the shorter side and his withers and back are dead even, meaning that for him to lift his shoulder and the frontpart of his body and really push from behind makes it hard for him. What is easy for some horses like some dressage movements, or soft and collected downward transitions is hard for him. I realize this, but on the other hand it is possible and if we want to do well at shows we need to work on this lots.
I feel while I am pointing out the negatives of my horse I should also add in a few positives just to even it out. Possum is the best trail horse ever, hands down! I have talked about this before, but basically he will do anything that I ask on a trail. He has a wonderfully long canter stride and can eat up the ground easily. Conformationally he is not that bad. I mentioned the straight shoulder which could possible be trouble in the future, and the short-ish neck and the slightly downhill build, but nothing like you see on the Fugly blog or anything. But other than that he doesn't have an real faults that could make him unsound in the future. He just isn't built like those wonderfully large warmbloods who are up-hill with long sculpted necks who just naturally collect. The ones you see cantering in the field and it looks like their in a dressage test. When Posusm canters and gallops around the paddock he looks like an arab. Head up, tail up, back hollowed and usually cantering disunited and then tripping because he was off balance. Am I drawing an accurate picture here?
So Thursday's ride went fairly well. We continues to work on halts in the middle of lines, then trotting int he middle of lines and then after some success just a strong half halt in the middle of the line. I absolutely hate having to muscle my horse around, but sometimes to get through to him it takes very strong aids and then we just try to quiet them every time after that. I do have to give him credit though, he strides were more collected and he was rushing the second fences in the lines less which is plus. We also continue to have challenges in jumping lines on the downhill of the ring. Cantering and then jumping 3ft on a downhill adn then quicky gathering himself and getting off his forehand is very very very hard for him. We usually leave out a stride on the downhill lines but I was working hard to get those correct number of strides in and I could see some progress. I ended on a good note and let him cool out, we were both really tired.
Friday it was threatening rain all day. I did manage to get in a 40 min ride before the skies opened up. Not only was it pouring but the lightening was horrible. The next town over even had a tornado touch down. A tornado in Maine! It was crazy. So for our 40 min ride I warmed up fairly quickly. It was hot and muggy and I didn't want either of us to get too over heated. I just wanted to brush up on the jumping from the day before and see if any of it had sunk in. He actually did fairly decent. We rode a couple courses, nothing fantastic, but also nothing that would make people hold their breath.
This weekend was just a relaxing weekend for me. I literally stayed home all weekend. Saturday was another super humid day with temps in the mid 90's. I cleaned the apartment top to bottom. When I would get really hot I would go in my room and cool off in the ac and then go back to cleaning. The apartment really needed a good scrubbing and I was feeling motivated so it was a good combo. Yesterday I ran some errands and then watched some TV. We still havn't gotten ride of all of the fleas so we did all the carpet stuff again, bathed all 4 dogs and my roomie's cat in flea bath and washed all our bedding again. Those suckers are really hard to get rid of. The weather we're having isn't helping either. Hot and sticky exuals lots of fleas. Supposedly this is the worst year on record for fleas in Maine and we're not te only ones having issues. It was quite a project last night. My roomie and I in our bathing suits one washing the dog and one rinsing them. We scrubbed and scrubbed and rinsed and rinsed. It was so hot that the sweat was dripping off my face into the bath water, gross!! SO now the dogs are all squeaky clean, the rugs treated and the bedding washed. So keep your fingers crossed. Ok enough of my rambling. Hope to ride Possum tonight if the weather holds off. Probably going to do some flat and then a quick trail. Have a good day everyone