Ocala Season Update

The winter season is a great opportunity for getting back to the basics, and for learning new ways to move forward with turning those basics into a successful spring season. I am very happy to report that all of the horses are doing well, following the outlines that I had hoped we would be able to follow and feeling better than ever!!
In the past few weeks I have been a part of 2 Canadian Team training sessions, hosted generously by Charles and Ann Koch at Oak Lane Farm, and organized by the tireless Jenn Holling and Graeme Thom. We are really fortunate to have a beautiful facility to work out of, and to have the support of a great team, including our new coach, Clayton Fredericks. I’m definitely in agreement with what he sees as our goals for Ollie’s flatwork, and I’m learning the “new lingo” that comes with a new coach and feeling good about the future. I have been working pretty much exclusively with David O’Connor for 4 years, and before David I was with someone who taught the same way he did, Rebecca Howard, for several years. I definitely believe that there are a number of different ways to get the horses to go the way we all want them to go, with just the perfect balance of submission and expression to show themselves to the best of their ability. I think I’ll be able to build on what I’ve learned in the last few years and add some fresh perspective!!
I have had the chance to ride Seahawk with Clayton twice so far, once in a cross country group lesson, and once in a lesson working through some showjumping and gymnastic exercises. In the cross country lesson, we ended up getting a much better feeling of “in front of my leg” than I have been able to create before with Seahawk. Partly, he is growing up and getting more confident with cross country, and partly because of the tweaks to my position and aids that allowed me to feel much more horse in front of me. It was actually such a great feeling that I have been practicing it on all the horses in my flatwork as well as the jumping. I feel a much stronger connection to my horses through my seat, and I’ve been expecting them to be much sharper off of my leg aids, so they have all been easier to engage and I feel much more balanced. In the showjumping lesson, Clayton gave us some exercises to work on at home to really target the quality of canter, and to make me responsible for teaching Seahawk to really sit and engage his hind end. Who knew cantering 4 small verticals in a circle could be so exhausting! Poor baby Mo.
I was looking forward to riding True Bellamy with Clayton as well while we are in Ocala, but a stupid barnyard mishap led to Trubie needing some stitches, and he spent the first 2 weeks in a stall. I’m so glad he didn’t do any real damage, but the placement of the wound over his stifle meant that he wasn’t allowed to move around much… keeping stitches in place was more urgent than keeping fitness in place so we are back to square one there. The good news is he has been on regular turnout for a while, and is about 3 weeks in to a fitness program. His 10 minute trot today was a big achievement. We’re going to keep it up with the hour long walks, and increase the flat work for the next little while so he can finish growing skin and hair over the offending area, but it should be onward and upward from here!!

As for my fantastic string of sales horses, Willow, Harvey and Phil, it just seems to get better every week. Willow has done nothing but get better and stronger in the last month since our arrival. Sunny Florida seems to agree with her! She is getting so strong, and is learning what it’s like to be 5 with class. She placed 4th at the Longwood Horse Trials on the 20th, with a really obedient dressage test and 2 clear jump phases. She is going novice at Ocala 2 this weekend and I’m really excited. Her cross country school from yesterday is posted on you tube.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Znf8HTlULg&feature=youtube_gdata . Harvey is continuing to be his saintly self, except for he is a better and better moving saintly self. He is really finding his balance, and starting to move very freely. I have always admired this horse’s movement when he is loose, it’s taken him a while to learn to be fancy under saddle, but he’s totally getting it. The jumping is still really easy and uncomplicated, he shows up for work and does his job. Whoever ends up with this horse is going to have such a great time. Phil went to the schooling jumper show at Southern Cross (our neighbors Max Corcoran and Scotty Keach hosted a great show) and jumped 2 clear rounds, one in Training and one in Preliminary. He is a really fun horse to ride, his fantastic canter makes it so easy to find the fences and he loves to jump.
If you are looking for your next partner, call or email me about these horses!

As always, a huge thanks to all of my sponsors for making it possible for me to do what I love, and to make sure my horses and I have the best feed, supplements and equipment to do the job right. Check out my sponsor page for links to information about my sponsors and their products.
Look for us at Ocala 2 on Saturday and Sunday!!

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