Sunday, April 18, 2021

Don't Trot and Chew Gum

I went to see Tumbleweed yesterday, and was able to take a lesson on him, focusing on the youngster trot. 

The youngster trot is a wild beast of a thing. Wonky. Uncertain. Gangly. Very physical. Things you thought you knew, fall apart. But it's very doable. You only have to get used to it, learn your cues, absorb the shock in your feet, constantly push the horse forward, find his rhythm, and wear a sports bra.

It helps to have your trainer helping from the ground!

"Drop your heels! Urge him forward. Squeeze your legs! Widen the circle!"

Stop looking down! 

I have a saying that I tell every child I train, "Look down, fall down."

What was I doing, as I tried to navigate a wide circle through thick sand? I was constantly looking down at the footing. LOL.  It's not so easy, is it?!?

By the end of the session, everything was starting to come together, and I could feel his rhythm and he could understand my signals. We worked mostly at posting to his trot, but some sitting of it also, to prepare for the ask on the lope.

His trot isn't as rough as it was last year. Sarah has really worked on collection and building up the top line. He is also much more comfortable carrying a rider. And, he is extremely sensitive to the rider, and if he feels your balance off, he will stop. In fact, his stop is so built into him--a tuck your butt kind of stop--Sarah is training him away from it. She doesn't want to put too much pressure on his hocks, and I'm not interested in sliding stops.  I can't remember what she called the stop she's asking for now, but I took it to mean, a relaxed cessation of movement. (It’s reassuring that he's the type to stop when you’re in a pinch though.)

My trainer thinks he's a "really nice three year old." And from her, that is high praise. She never has a bad report to tell of him anymore.  It's all glowing. 

He has exceled on the trails, even when riding out alone. She says he's better at riding out alone than a lot of the older horses in training. He naturally tucks his hind end coming down hills, too. She said it was really fun to ride because it's exactly what you're looking for them to do, but he does it naturally.

She said he never spooks.  But he did have one hairy incident a few days ago. They were watching some cows, and the cows suddenly went off running and bucking away from them.  Sarah said he spun around--and his spin is lightning fast, but easy to sit, and she just brought his head around in a circle--or a one rein stop.  He calmed and they moved on. She says riding colts, you have to be ready for anything. And, she recommends riding him in a saddle with a deeper seat, so that I can stay in it better if he does spin or bolt.  He is exceptionally bred for quick, catty spins--and he definitely has them in spades. But it's good to know they're smooth and well-balanced, and he doesn’t trip over himself.

Another little warning she gave me is that when her dog runs, he thinks that means play time, and time to run, too. That was definitely trained into him here at home. Piper, our wolfhound, was a puppy when Tumbleweed was a yearling, and they have played a lot together.  

She has ridden him during some of her private lessons, and he loves his role. He likes the people, and the other horses. And she says, the people and other horses, love him, too. No surprise. 

She told me if I ever wanted to sell him, he'd "go for a lot."  People are looking for geldings with solid minds. But you know, that will not happen.  I have a lot invested into him--emotionally, and he’s my baby. 

The next lesson will be loping, and that will be in about 8 days. The last lesson will be a trail ride.

Sarah said she'd like to have him for 3 months next year, but I don't think I can part with him longer than 2. She said his 4 year old year is when it's all going to come together, and she wants to take him to the ranch and into the mountains to round up cows.  She's booked so solid, I will have to decide soon.

But for now, I think it's safe to say she's having fun with him, and building a foundation I can continue here at home.


  1. This post brings back sooo many Koda/Nemo memories, and all I can say is if your trainer thinks Tumbleweed needs 90 days - do yourself a favor and listen to her. She clearly doesn't need the business and is trying to do right by the horse, so it is coming from a good place. You will not regret it, and will only benefit. Just sayin' Can you do lessons during that time? We went weekly to see & ride our boys and rode trails with them at that age, which of course makes it easier to have them gone.

    1. Oh yeah. I can come down anytime and do lessons. The more the better, in her opinion. But I have a trainer up here, too. I’m starting with her in May and it’s much easier to get back and forth. She’s about ten minutes away. I will think on it though. I’ll probably have a good idea by June. 😁 and I’ll talk to her more about her plans for 90 days.

    2. Having a trusted trainer nearby would add to my hesitation too. Good luck with your decision!

  2. He looks so grown up. I do remember the 'all over the place' trots of youngsters. I would hesitate to send him for 4 months too. By next year you may have a better handle on things with him and not need it.

    1. Yeah, that’s how I’m thinking. It all depends on how it goes in between now and then. If my own training and lessons develop well, I think it’s better that I do a lot of it myself so that I’m improving as he’s improving. I would need to send him down at the top of his game next spring so that she can advance faster, and not have such a long adjustment period. It might require me boarding him for the worst months of winter in order to keep training year round. I would like for Sarah to take him to the ranch and mountains. And I’d like for her to train him for reining. I really wish she was closer than 2.5 hours. I loved it back when I saw her everyday and had her at my fingertips.

  3. He's looking so grown up! Handsome boy. I think the training is going really well. Seems like a long drive to and from so I don't know what I'd do either. That's up to you. Seems like if he did go for the time he'd get a lot of different training in the mountains and with cows etc. that he might not get at home, so that's a consideration too. Hard decision.

    1. It will be an interesting year. I’m chomping at the bit to have him back and start training. It’s perfect timing with the weather. There should be more good days than bad. I just wish I could win the lottery and move her up here, too.

  4. Sounds like he is turning into exactly the horse he was bred to be. That stop is inherited from both his parents so I hope you don't try to train it out of him, just use it sparingly. Beamer was also bred to be a cutting/cow horse so those turns on the haunches are part of his genetic makeup too. Tumbleweed is going to be very athletic as he matures. Sounds like he is in good hands, and I'm happy to hear he is loving his trail rides too.

    1. Last year, Sarah really wanted a stop, or at least to know it was there when she asked. He gave her one! This year, I think she’s trying to refine it. He wanted to give her big stops when they weren’t necessary and she wasn’t asking for it. So, she’s working on proportion. Sometimes you want to just gently pump the brakes and cease moving. She’s getting him better at discerning the difference. Fine tuning.

      It seems the fine tuning always starts about 30 days in or so. The first 30 are adjustment, refresher , physical conditioning, and settling into a new place. I don’t know if it’s possible to shave that adjustment period down or not, but I’m going to try my best this year so that 3 months isn’t necessary.

      I’m glad he’s not a stud, and that you offered him for sale. But he would have made a good one. Sarah says the mares all love him. They all talk to him when he walks by. She switched out a mare and put a gelding next to him, and the same thing happened. Like long lost brothers. I saw all that here at the house, the mares all loving and protecting him, but I didn’t know the same thing would happen at a new barn. Mother Nature made him a lovable soul, I guess. Something about him other horses really like and respond to. Which makes him a great lesson horse.

    2. actually, his mama is like that. Everyone loved her, even people who don't like horses much. She has an endearing personality. She fit seamlessly into my herd here. And- of course, that sweet personality comes in spades from his daddy too. My farrier calls him an angel :0)

    3. I replied to your other comment about this one. Sorry about that. I was just saying I agree and that Rosalee’s owner just told me her farrier doesn’t even halter her anymore. I can’t wait until I can say that about T. He’s still a ‘tweener , but seems to be maturing the way of his mom and dad.


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