Sunday, 30 September 2007
Unfortunately missed!
Friday, 21 September 2007
I arrived at the field early today speeding everything up and rushing Helen along as I needed to be on my way to Bukcs at 4.30pm. As it turned out though, my lesson in the evening was cancelled and I had lots of time for Columbus!
Since I already got to the field I thought I would give the Big Boy a thorough groom, tidy up his mane a little and generally enjoy lovely warm afternoon.
Effect (after giving it a frame virtually of course!):

Then we proceeded to work on a chambon for 30 minutes. Columbus started in a rather lazy mode, dragging his legs a little and generally doing everything not to exert himself. After some message reinforcement he finally moved forward and worked well. I only did about 10 minutes on the left rein today as he is quite flexible on that side and got him onto the right rein for the remaining 20 minutes. He tested my patience significantly refusing to come back to walk but dropping into his trade mark jog. As I was going through plenty of transitions he finally got bored with jogging and started going cleanly from trot to walk. In order to get him to do just a few steps of trot then back to walk and trot again I took him on a very short lunge line and walked with him which gave me immediate control and I could make sure he walked on my command. After 10 goes he really started using his back legs and lightning the forehand.
We finished on one especially good, soft yet crisp transition and Columbus had a 10 minutes rest while I removed the chambon, adjusted the tack for riding etc

Off we went to the 'arena' area and I started with 15 minutes walk mostly on the right rein but changing direction frequently. We did 10m circle at every other letter and I willed my legs to stay back and underneath me which seemed to aid to Columbus's balance (his saddle is a hunting sort of cut which puts the rider into an armchair seat). I was psyching myself up before my evening dressage lesson and with it being cancelled I moved all that effort into session with Columbus! I must say it must have contributed somehow as he worked really well. He was again even softer in walk than last week, very flexible to the left and fairly well to the right. His responses were amazing but I think it must have been more to do with me keeping my legs back than anything else. We had lovely impulsion in trot which allowed to work on his lateral flexion. He felt easily manoeuvrable within the 40x60 area in walk and trot which I was quite proud of considering I had troubles negotiating turns and circles in a field three times as big a month ago ;)))
The left turns are getting better now and he is managing to keep a nice circumference of the circle and some bend and neck flexion. On the right turns he is still falling to the inside with his inside shoulder and avoiding the bend within his body. However, on a few turns today I really made use of my inside leg and took my inside shoulder back even more than necessary and he responded by moving deeper into the corner and bringing his head to the inside a little more instead of his usual outside.
I then braved on into canter work which is well, quite a hard work on Columbus! On a good note, we stayed within the arena boundaries yet again on both reins and went three circuits incorporating 20m circles at A and C every time. Then a short rest in walk on 6m circles both ways and back to canter again for three circuits and 20m circles at A and C.
He is definitely much fitter now. The weather helped as it was very fresh with the wind blowing and he seems to enjoy lower temperatures. I tried to make him break into sweat a little more but I was exhausted already after an hour of making him work;) Considering that a month ago he would be looking like fresh from the shower after my schooling, he is not doing too bad!
All there was today was just a sweaty saddle/girth patch!
Saturday, 15 September 2007
Big Boy was in a sleepy mood today and not too keen on the ground which is getting harder and harder due to the lovely weather we are having this month!
We started with usual 25 minutes on a chambon and he looked a little stiff and tense but willing to stretch. After 10 minutes he relaxed and produced a much better, swinging trot. Despite rather warm weather he didn't sweat much. We worked a lot on transitions but he was taking the mickey and jogged a lot. I think it stemmed from his overall tension today as once he relaxed his reactions to my commands were much better. I asked for about 30 to 40 transitions from trot to walk and upwards and will be asking for the same pattern next time. Although the quality of transitions was not good today (trot-jog-jog-walk) he is getting the message as once I got on him he was much softer and responded nicely to me changing his flexion.
I rode him for 40 minutes, first in walk only, doing a lot of changes of rein and asking for changes of flexion. Initially he was a little stuffy and slow in reactions to my aids and strong on the reins. I took him through 10-15 transitions from walk to halt to get him to listen to my rein aids and it worked a treat. After 15 minutes of walk work I could do a lovely 5 loop serpentine with Columbus chewing the bit nicely and releasing tension in his jaw.
Trot work started as a hard work and, as the ground was not too good, I didn't push for long trot periods. I again worked on transitions and dare I say it, he is getting better :) I will probably find him strong again next week but I have a feeling he is really trying to understand and oblige.
He also feels much more capable of delivering longer and more demanding work thanks to his owners putting some substantial work into exercising him as often as possible. The winter is also looking good in this respect as owners will be able to use a fantastic, massive field just down the road!

My plan for Columbus for next week is to repeat chambon session as usual asking for frequent transitions. In the saddle, I want to concentrate on circles and obedience so more transitions work in the pipeline!
Friday, 7 September 2007

Today I had yet another very good chambon session with Columbus. I lunged him for 25 minutes and we mostly worked on transitions this time. We did 5 minutes walk initially and he was very relaxed yet forward going. He is also getting used to a lunging whip and no longer objects to me waving it but reacts appropriately i.e. increases the amount of energy he puts into the steps.
After the initial warm up I did one circle in walk, then back to trot and so on for the next ten minutes. I repeated the same on the left rein, then changed again back to right rein and started working on changing gear it trot. Initially he got really tense in slow trot, straining chambon upright and hollowing the back. After 10-15 repetitions he relaxed and was able to slow down and push forward with neck slightly arched and lowered, back up and hindquarters swinging. He is not yet established in this way of going and would pop his head up now and again but today's session was definitely a step forward.

Then I popped on him and took him up the dressage 'arena' for 40 minutes. It was quite an effort to manoeuvre him within 20x40 space! He is so big that it must feel similar to driving a tube train around some narrow corners!
He takes quite a strong contact on both reins which isn't that bad at all but requires quite a strength from the rider!. I did lots of turns and circles to lighten him on the inside, take outside contact and flex to the inside. After a few minutes I could feel him chewing the bit and he was trying to oblige.
Trot work in such a small space was a real test for him but we managed some 20m circles, three loops serpentines and changes of rein through half a 10m circle! It is quite difficult for me to ride him as I am barely 1.62m (5'2) and my legs don't reach too far under the saddle! He is quite an understanding gentleman though!
We also did lots of walk to halt transitions and he reacted much better than last week, didn't pull on the reins at all.

I am generally very pleased with how he worked today. It was rather hot and although he sweated, it wasn't as bad as before. He also seems a little firmer within his body and you can actually see his neck muscles from underneath the fat layers ;)


Hi, my name is Columbus and up until July 2007 I didn't really have to do much. I know I am a rare breed i.e. I am special and so everybody should treat me like a king. I mean, I spend all days with two nice Connemara ladies; we chat, eat and enjoy life! What more could one want!
I am an easy going chap but if I don't understand something I can get stroppy and will let you know I am not quite happy, that is for sure.
I have great owners but Lady Owner (who also owns this nice grey mare -Rosie- I share my field with) decided she wanted some lessons and so I somehow got involved.
I was not overly happy with my first training session but then my Owners got a little more involved. I started getting more attention and I figured that this whole training might not be too bad...Then I heard Wiola saying I have 'presence' and 'could be great with a bit of training' so I thought I would participate in this circus...for now!

Wiola decided to keep this diary to record my progress. Well, I won't be arguing...