Retraining a Racehorse – Moonfire – First Show Of The Year
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   6th Mar 2011   •   6,272 views   •   11 comments
With 2010 well behind us, the time soon arose for Moony to make his 2011 debut – heading off for his first show of the year on the morning of 5 February 2011.

He loaded without a problem, and arrived at the show safe and sound and raring to go, which is just as well, since we were – as usual – terribly late. As such, it was with desperate haste that I flung on Moony’s bridle, girthed up his saddle, then shot off to warm him up.

Thankfully, I had enough time to get him loose and supple and working well on the flat – but not quite as much time as I’d have liked – meaning that I couldn’t spend the time I usually do finding the right showjumping canter.

Retraining A Racehorse – Moonfire – Show PreparationsAll the same, Moony was warm and jumping nicely when we entered the ring – eager to make a great start to what will hopefully be an incredible year.

Whilst on standby, I walked him around the arena and let him look at all the spooky and potentially problematic jumps. He seemed a little nervous of some of them, but was still willing to have a good sniff – so I was not too worried.

When our bell rang, I nudged Moony into a canter, riding him forward into my hands and trying to get the same active, powerful and rhythmic canter we’d been practicing the week before. Unfortunately, I could not quite find that perfect canter. And although Moony as forward, obedient and rhythmic – I could still tell it could have been better. He jumped a lovely course – popping happily over the little 80cm jumps, and not showing any signs of refusing, even when he did goggle a little bit at the spooky ones. He knocked just one pole on that course, which was not a bad result for a young horse – but I was still slightly disappointed, knowing that it could have been so much better.

So, for the next round, I was determined to be prepared, and have Moony going his best.

As such, after a rest, I remounted my Moony horse and set off for the warm-up arena. I did some lengthening and collecting to get him responsive, then got him bending nicely. Once I was satisfied with how he was going on the flat, I started working on that canter. First, I sent him right around the arena on a long rein, getting his back loose and swinging under the saddle. Once he was moving nicely forward, I gathered up my reins and tried to contain the power in his canter – getting him coiled like a spring. Unfortunately, however, the lazy horse decided to drop the activity from his canter every time I closed my hands and tried to take a hold of it. So I started doing some canter transitions to get his quarters under him. This seemed to be working quite well – so I did some walk-to-canter and canter-to-walk transitions to emphasize it.

This really woke Moony up, since it was something new and interesting – and thankfully, he got his quarters under him and started really working. I put on some extra leg, rode him forward into my hands, and finally found that lovely springy canter stride I had been looking for all along: His jumping canter.

And it was with that canter that I began approaching the warm-up jumps. I practiced containing him right until take-off, then putting my legs on and asking for a big jump – which he gave to me. I practiced placing him close and far-off, and approaching from a collected canter stride, and a longer one – playing with his jumping style until I was fully satisfied with the way he was going.

He was perfectly ready by the time our names were called to enter the arena for the second 80cm class of the day: A speed class. Since Moony is still young, I decided not to go for speed, but rather to try have a nice, smooth clear. I did, however, pick up a nice, brisk canter so we wouldn’t lose time unnecessarily.

That course, I could not have been happier with! Moony kept up a wonderful, powerful canter – gave me big, careful jumps, and finished the course quickly and smoothly, with a lovely clear round.

When the results were announced, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Moony had managed a third place – his first graded prize.

He accepted his rosette politely, then performed a calm, sensible lap of honour, and finally left the arena with the air of a horse who knows he has done well, and is clearly not ashamed to show it.

So, after prancing his way back to the horsebox, Moony was awarded a well deserved rest in the shade while I jumped my next mount.
No Walkin Farms9  
Third! Congrats! You must be so proud of the Moon horse.
  30 days ago  •  4,841 views
Congratulations! You guys look great in the pictures... nice article! :)
  30 days ago  •  4,823 views
Dark Star  
You are amazing at taking pictures. He's a great horse!
  30 days ago  •  4,799 views
Untamed Heart  
Sounds really good!!!
  30 days ago  •  4,822 views
I worked a mare off the track a few years ago - it's amazing how much heart and affection those racers have :)
  30 days ago  •  4,818 views
Congratulations on third, that is amazing for your young horse. He looks great in the pictures
  29 days ago  •  4,841 views
Congrats Polo!
  28 days ago  •  4,826 views
Inactive Member  
You would never have guessed that he never jumped before you got him! Great work!
  27 days ago  •  4,830 views
Look at the size of those jumps! You guys look awesome.
  21 days ago  •  4,807 views
Emma Watson  
cool loveit
  16 days ago  •  7,440 views
Carpe Diem  
Congrats and great article!
  Aug 20, 2011  •  4,802 views
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