Long Overdue News About Jupiter

So I realized this morning I had not updated my blog entries with anything about Jupiter in many months. As if it was not bad enough that I have not been properly tracking his progress, but worse yet, I neglected to mention the single most important bit of news concerning Jupiter, but before I get to that, a little background so we get more caught up.

Jupiter was sent to us later in 2010 for one year of training. Marti, the owner, wanted him started gently and time to be taken to make sure as to not damage his trusting, loving nature. You can read the regular updates posted on the blog up to July of last year, where the updates abruptly stopped. They stopped because something changed in the situation that made regular updates to the blog less important.

Included with many of the updates posted to this blog during his year in training, were pictures and videos showing Nancy’s interaction with Jupiter. We also sent Marti other pictures and video directly. The goal was to show her just how well he was doing, how much we loved having him in for training and what a great guy we thought the big lug was. There were many gushing comments from Nancy and lots of photos of her with him, love clearly viable.

In September we took Jupiter to his first medieval equestrian competition. Now keep in mind this was to be the trip where we were to return Jupiter to Marti, but a week or two before the event, while we were working out the logistics of returning him, Marti informed us that it was not necessary as she had decided to give Jupiter to Nancy. Unbelievable? Yes, well it was for us. We protested that there was no way we were going to allow her to pay for a year’s training on a horse then turn around and give us the horse. I mean, the value of a Lipizzaner alone would have been to great a gift, training not withstanding. Our protestations aside, Marti stood her ground and insisted that Jupiter had clearly “Found his person” in Nancy and should be with her. Add to this the fact that Marti’s time and financial situation meant that if Jupiter was to go home, he would go back out into pasture and be unused for who knows how long, so obviously it was in everyone’s best interest if he just stayed with us.

Nancy & Jupiter

So after much soul searching we agreed, but only if Marti rode Jupiter first, just to be sure she wanted to part with. At the event, where I rode Jupiter in his first competition to a respectable fourth place finish, Marti did step up on Jupiter for a ride, but when it was over, as pleased as she appeared to be at his training level, she stuck with her decision and gave him to Nancy. We agreed only after offering to take Jupiter’s full brother, Galahad, in for training some time in the future, at only the cost of boarding, thus returning at least some of the training she paid for on Jupiter.

So finally, after searching since I got Orion, Nancy has HER horse. She is in love with him and he with her and they are well matched.  We posted this news with great enthusiasm to our Facebook pages and though many emails, but only today did I realize that I had not mentioned here on the training blog.

Since then, Jupiter’s training has progressed well and Nancy has become a better rider as a result of her time on him. She has become lighter and more elastic with her hands and supple with her legs, with a more independent seat; generally riding lighter and more connected than I have ever seen her on any other horse. She plans to ride him in competition this year herself. I expect great things out of both of them.

Hands-On Horse Training
124 Lani Way TalentOR97540 USA 
 • 5415357974

Jupiter the Nurse

We have been remiss in writing up how Jupiter has been doing these past couple of months.  It has been a lot of the same.. he’s continuing to get better at balance and coming under himself, he’s getting incredibly light in response to seat and leg aids… But yesterday his wonderful personality came out yet again.  I was working him in the round pen to start, making sure he was moving well before riding him.  I was suddenly dizzy and actually had to sit down on the mounting block we have in the center of the round pen and clutched onto it as my world went roundy-round.  Jupiter immediately came over and put his nose on the back of my neck and stayed there until Troy came in..and then he only moved about a step away.   I did start feeling better so sat up while Troy continued moving Jupiter around.  Normally when the round pen work comes to an end, the horse walks up to the person who was last working them… not Jupiter… he came over to me once Troy was done to make sure I was doing okay.  Gotta love that personality.

I did ride him slowly after this and while we walked and trotted around the arena I was able to get him to change direction just from shifting weight onto seat bones and barely had to use my legs at all.   He is going to make his mama so happy when she finally gets a chance to ride him.  🙂

 

Jupiter – Coming Right Along

I want to go on record again as saying, I really love working with Jupiter. I have never met as genuinely nice a horse before in my life. He simply loves everyone and is as gentle a beast as you could possibly want. Add to this the fact that he is smart, brave and physically capable, with excellent conformation and you have all the traits of a great horse.

In the last few rides I came away with the belief that I can declare him a reliable riding horse right now, even if there is more work to do and calling him a warhorse is still a little further on down the road. He has, from very early in his training, responded extremely well to leg pressure but now he is also taking cues from the riders seat as well. He already stops reliably, but has begun to soften in the bridle to a level more to my liking. There is much collection work yet to do as well, but his natural self-carriage was already well balanced when he came to me and has improved much as his conditioning has gotten better.

His natural asymmetry is starting to even out, allowing him to move straight and balance well in both direction. This makes it easier for him to carry a rider of my size at the canter without being scared of compromising his balance.

He is a very brave animal who puts a great deal of trust in his rider. In fact, he is the type of horse that looks to humans to solve problems rather than as the cause of them.

He is proving to be a very solid trail horse who, while balking at new obstacles momentarily, has not refused anything asked of him.

The next few months should see rapid improvement in his overall performance and I expect great things from him as training continues.

Year Wrap-up Jupiter

Jupiter will finish up this year a riding horse. He is already comfortable with a rider for walk and trot, while yielding off the leg and started taking cues from the rider’s seat. His canter, while balanced and smooth, is “big” and still a little exciting for him, but improves each ride.

His physical conditioning is also much improved from his arrival few months ago. He is stronger and lighter, with a better top line and more defined musculature. His stamina has increased and he no longer finishes standard workouts dripping with sweat as he once did. I have ridden him with weapons in hand and struck several of the gaming elements with them, with no adverse response.

In the next couple months I hope to work extensively on his left/right asymmetry and get him collecting a lot better so that all his gates will smooth out and become lighter and more controlled. This should keep him calmer when greater speed is asked for, while helping him to transition between gates and stop when asked to.

If all goes as planned, he will have is debut as a warhorse sometime this next season. I expect his word fame will begin to spread quickly.

Jupiter – Straightness and Balance

The onset of winter has caused a slight alteration of the training schedule for all the horses.  I have begun working Jupiter less frequently, but for longer sessions.

He always comes to the gate to meet me, even when I am only coming to get one of the other horses, so it is a little sad to see the look on his face on the days I don’t take him out.

This month I have been working extensively on body straightening exercises with all the horses.

Jupiter, like all horses, is stronger on one side than the other. He happens to be left handing, with means the muscles on the left side of his body and longer and his left front leg is his strongest. This makes his body bend naturally more to the right. Right bending horses are more flexible and balance better when they are turning to the right and therefore more relaxed and comfortable when lunging in that direction. Conversely, as a right bending horse he find it more difficult to bend to the left, subsequently he tends to do things like lean into the turn, pick up speed or simply lose his balance and bail out of the turn.

I have been doing short line work with Jupiter since his arrived, but now I am focusing on using it specifically strengthen his weaker side in an attempt to make his straighter in is frame. Over time this will allow him to more easily carry himself and his rider through turning maneuvers.

In the saddle, we have been doing a lot of slow turns, making sure his body is bent in the direction of the turn on his weak side just as much as on strong one. By regularly changing direction he is developing the ability to change from the right bend to the left bend, staying supple and relaxed through the process.

I have also been doing a lot of “long and low” work. That is, encouraging him to extend his head down and forward as we work. This lengthens his long back muscles and causes him to engage is stomach muscles, “rounding” his topline and brining his hind end under him more.

As a result of this balance and straightness work, Jupiter appearance has actually starting to change. He topline is stronger and rounder, while his belly is lifting and flattening.  More important than the change in how he looks is the change in how easily he carries a rider and how much more relaxed he is while turning.  He trot is smoother and lighter and his canter is much more balanced.

Jupiter November Update

Jupiter is coming along wonderfully. I am consistently impressed by the how steady minded he is. Regardless of what is asked of him or how much pressure he might be feeling, he always looks to his human as the solution to the problem and not the cause of it.

He weight is coming down and his muscle is building up. Like all the horses we have info training right now, he is getting regular short line work, which he is taking too very well.

Each ride on him is better than the last, with him gaining more composure and self-confidence all the time.

Oh, one thing I should add, we had his feet done again a couple days ago and this time he stood, untied and perfectly still while the farrier worked on him. I was sitting a chair a few feet away, but did not need to touch him once the process started. Jay said as usual, all our horses are a real pleasure to work on.

So Jupiter is right on schedule. I expect him to be walk/trot/canter reliable by next month and to start him on the medieval gaming element early in the spring.

Jupiter Keeps Improving

Since the last update I have ridding Jupiter several times as well as doing ground worth with him. Each time he becomes more responsive to cues and lighter to the touch.

He is cantering stronger, more balanced and for longer periods of time before tiring. He is also quicker to pick up the requested gate.

I have been riding him out in the pasture, in wide open spaces and handles it like a champ. In fact, the last time I rode him, it coincided with the arrival of a two friends I asked to come by and give me a quote on some new shelters for the pastures.  So I cut short his arena work and rode him up to the pasture to show them the location we had in mind. He stood quietly while we discussed the reasons we ended up not wanting to use that location, then walked calmly to look at other locations, and eventually stood still again while discussed the costs. All the time I just thought about where I wanted to be and we were there. I swear it was like riding Orion with the ease of the whole thing.

He is going to be a very easy animal to connect with. At least I am absolutely sure he will be for me.

More to come soon…

Jupiter Progress

It has been a very positive time since our last update on Jupiter’s progress. Since then he has been introduced to and accepted a snaffle bit and has been ridden in the arena a few times. His weight is betters but he is still getting in shape.

Our work in the arena has be quite gratifying. He is certainly a bit more nervous out there than in the round pen, but part of that may have to do with all the gaming elements currently set up, the trail obstacles at one end and of course the bear scat we find there every morning because we have a black bear living by the creek just below the arena. ;>

He is walking and trotting with a rider easily now, with good balance and forward motion. Jupiter is a big stepper and there is a fun lateral “swing” to his jog that I attribute to him being a little heavy still. It makes it a little harder to sit the trot, so I am posting quite a bit to make things easier on him. When I push him forward, the left and right movement lessens and I think in time it will mostly disappear. We have even managed a few steps at the canter, not much, but a start. He wasn’t upset or excited about it, but he is not in proper condition for cantering more just yet.

He is starting to move off my leg well and is bending through the turns nicely. He is holding his head a bit high and hollowing out his back from time to time, so we will need to work on that more in the round pen. We need to strengthen his abdominal  muscles to get him rounding properly. This will be something I will work on at the same time we continue his saddle work.

The area he has shown most improvement is his stopping. The soft snaffle bit seems to provide just enough input that along with a clear “ho” and going seat/heels down, he is stopping quite well. As smart as he is, I suspect all the bit has done is educated him to what the rider means when he say “ho”. ;> We are starting to get the one rein stop down, I am very pleased with his progress here.

It took a little bit of doing to get him to cross the trail “bridge” the first few times, but he seems to have it figured now. The tarp, ground poles and natural log crossings were nothing to him. It is amusing how he gathers himself like his is going to jump over the bridge, only to have him step over it quickly instead. I know he can jump it from a stand still because he demonstrated that to me once. We walked up to the bridge, he lifted his right front foot as if to step on it, but then lifted his left front, floated there for a full count of 3, then hopped straight over it. Most impressive.

Raina wants to get started on his jump training as soon as we get him fully comfortable under saddle. I will have to talk to Macha about that. ;> Raina wants to teach all the horses to jump. She had Orion going over jumps in the soft saddle the others day… no stirrups on that. Obviously any jumping is still a bit in the future for Jupiter.

I continue to be impressed with Jupiter’s connection with people. He has the unique trait of already looking to humans as the solution to problems automatically. Most horses naturally assume the human is causing the problem or at least is part of it. Even while lunging and making him move more than he wants to, he still looks to you and tries to come to you the moment you take the pressure off. In the arena he takes praise as a reward and calms very quickly if something scares him as long as the rider is calm. This trait, due almost certainly to how Jupiter was handled over the years, should aid in his training immensely as trust and respect for the rider are probably the most important thing I try to train into any horse. Not to put to fine a point on it, this trait, while a huge plus to any horse activity, is absolutely required in a warhorse.

Working with Jupiter is a great time. He learns fast and really wants to please. I will be heading out in a few hours to work with him again. I hope to get some pictures and maybe some video to add to entry when I get back.

UPDATE

We had a absolutely amazing session today with the Great White Hope!

We did quite a bit of trotting and cantering, both leads. He was just the most balanced and relaxed beast one could want on what amounts to his first real canter session and only his 5th time under saddle.

I am including a couple pics and a video that we shot today.

Video:
This is a fairly large video file.
You will see him want to stop and look down in the creek next to the arena. You would think he was sure there was a bear down there. Well, there was.
He takes the wrong lead at another point but was so relaxed in it I let him continue. It was as smooth a counter canter as I have ever felt. What natural balance!
He is a real a champ. I couldn’t have asked for a better early ride.  Link directly to the YouTube Video.

Jupiter Update

Saddle and stepped up on Jupiter today.

While he may have had someone sit on his back, I guessed by his lack of reaction to leg cues, even in so much as to walk forward, I did not think he had been ridden before. His owner has since informed me that I was correct, he had been saddled in the past but never ridden.

He was perfectly calm and quiet and by the end of the 20 minute ride he was moving forward, left and right from leg pressure, though stopping/backing were a little iffy, as I only had a side pull on him.

I will put a soft snaffle in his mouth next and if he takes to it as easily as he did being ridden, we should be able to move his training forward quickly.

He still has a fair little amount a weight to slip and muscle to build before we can really push him at all, so we will have plenty of time to get him used to both saddle and bit. By then his balance will be where it needs to be to and away we go.

I can hardly wait.