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Milo Chronicles: P.6

Installment No. 6 of my adventures with Scar Face Tony (aka Milo) 2018 OTTB on his foray into Eventing.

After spending all summer training at home, we went to our first mini trial! Ok, I'll back up. First we did a bunch of training at home.

I was out of the saddle for several weeks due to re-aggrivating an injury, so we worked on the lunge line a lot, and Val rode him some before I got back on and we could hack around the beautiful grounds of Sudley Farm. He's continued to be honest and willing, and though I'm finding he prefers a quiet atmosphere in the barn, he's super to work with. When I could start back in real work, we jumped in with technical baby questions like

  • responding to 2 legs and 2 reins, including go, whoa, faster and slower

  • going straight over skinny flower boxes, ground poles, and small jumps (key word "straight")

  • picking up both leads when asked

  • riding safely in the open

  • maintaining rhythm, tempo and relaxation when jumping

When the answers to all those were pretty consistently "yes" we did a cross country school, then we did that a bunch more times. The water was a bit tricky. After our first session with a buddy was unsuccessful, we worked through the water on the lunge line for a few sessions until Milo was convinced the wet ground would not swallow up baby horses. He's taken to jumping easily, and making them solid didn't seem to phase him. The most important part is something I'm always working on and teaching; be proactive not reactive. Actively keeping the whole baby horse picture together is much more effective than waiting for it to start falling apart and chasing the pieces around.

We adventured out to three off-property schoolings including one at the show venue: one schooling jumper show, a cross country school, and a dressage lesson. He handled the trips and the new atmospheres like a pro, both on his own in the 2-horse and with friends in the 4-horse rig. The first trip was to Waredaca with Carter (smh), who called to him the whole time- thanks a bunch you seasoned event horse you! That was a bit stressful for Milo, I don't think he got the picture even after 2 courses, but it was really low key and overall a good first outing. On cross country at Marlborough we jumped starter and beginner novice fences including a bank up and the water. He was impressive, he gained confidence with every jump, and had a blast. We even walked back to the trailer on our own to wait for the group to finish up without any fuss. The dressage lesson was perfect, the grounds of Loch Moy were basically empty and we even walked through their water in the all-weather ring.

The thing I was most concerned about was getting both leads in the dressage test, the right is definitely his preferred lead, and while he does pick up the left, it usually takes a few tries and I'm still figuring out the best way to communicate what I'm looking for. He seems to just think 'cantering is cantering, what's the deal with the different lead?' I was expecting to do both our canter circles on the right lead and keep addressing it at home, but he surprisingly got it right on the first try in the ring! The straight long sides and diagonals, and smooth transitions are still a work in progress. SO, pretty much the whole thing needs work. But we did it all confidently and calmly, left all the rails up in the show jumping and jumped all the things on cross country, and finished in 2nd place. Go baby horse!


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