Retraining a Racehorse – Moonfire – Back by popular demand
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   20th Jan 2011   •   8,942 views   •   20 comments
As many of you might remember, I began publishing weekly training articles on my work with Moonfire as soon as I got him. However, I chose to discontinue these articles after about the 6th one – purely because I had written all I could about the methods I was using with Moony, and my work from that point forward was only repetition.

Yet recently, it has come to my attention that many Ponyboxers still hunger to hear what Moony is up to, so I have decided to continue my articles once more.

Here is what you’ve missed:

Towards the end of 2010, Moony was being rested, since he needed to pick up condition after going through the ever-difficult transition from racing life to riding life. Thankfully, he was back to prime form soon enough, so he ended the year with one last show: The lower grade championship.

Unfortunately, Moony was ill prepared for this show, and when he set hoof in the arena some nerves I didn’t even know he had started to kick in. Moony gave me the biggest, boldest leaps I’ve ever felt from him – but due to his sudden lack of courage, Moony spooked and refused. Throughout the show I worked on riding him confidently forward, trying to get him to feel brave again – and it gradually began to work. He was still feeling rather ring green – but he went around his second course without refusing – yet got a little flat and nervous, causing him to knock two poles.

His third, and final class was the best. He gave me an amazing smooth round until the second last jump, a tricky, spooky parallel off a turn and, to top it off, beside the gate. Naturally, Moony had a spook and a scuttle, which ended up as a stop – but an honest stop. When I presented him to it again, he jumped it beautifully, and proceeded to clear the last jump and finish with a round that I was very pleased with, overall. At the show, several advanced riders approached me to praise Moony’s big jump and comment on his potential – so I believe we’ve reached a major milestone in his physical jump. Now we just have to get his head back in the game!

Retraining A Racehorse

Other than that last competition, Moony had one other outing as well: His first cross country open day! This was very exciting indeed, as the provincial championship course was left open for practice – which meant Moony could have a wonderful challenge! The lowest course for the championship was Pre Novice, and though I’d ideally have liked to start Moony at Welcome, the jumps were so low that I decided he would be fine – and he proved me right. The difficulty in the course was not the jumps themselves, but rather the technicality and the surroundings.

Moony was a little nervous and hesitant at first – sometimes cat-jumping after a bit of a scuttle on approach, but he seemed to really enjoy himself, and he gave me some beautiful jumps! He learned to negotiate step and drop fences, water, combinations and ditches. I also worked on my own technique with him, and found that if I leave him mostly alone in the approach, it works better than fiddling and trying to help him.

After I had schooled Moony over each jump individually, I took him around the entire course, and he went beautifully! He really flew.

After that session, I am extremely keen to start Moony in eventing, which ought to happen very soon! First, however, I want to take Moony out to practice courses at a few more venues, since he is going through a bit of a nervous phase.

Retraining A Racehorse

Retraining A Racehorse

The next thing I shall update you on is Moony’s progress in free-jumping. Apparently, Moony has decided that such training methods are now below him. I strongly disagree, but how much say can I possibly have when my delightful pupil simply jumps the fence and gallops off into the distance every time I put him in the arena?

Yes, Moony has taught himself to jump fences. As I’m sure you can imagine, he is extremely proud of this, and now never misses an opportunity to do it. When he is shut in his paddock to be fed, he jumps out and follows Choc around – a favourite pastime of his. Of course, this means a lot more walking for us poor, pathetic humans who get to round up the Moonster and put him back in his paddock.

And last but not least is the progress in Moony’s schooling. He is currently going through the infamous ‘young horse phase’, where the horse begins questioning authority, testing the boundaries, and just misbehaving in general. For quite some time I was struggling to get Moony working properly, since he simply refused to work in a proper frame, and took to throwing his head during work. I tried working him on a loose rein, I tried working him bareback – thinking that the saddle might be pinching. I tried just about everything I could think of, but nothing seemed to help.

Finally, with the help of my instructor, we found not only the problem, but the solution as well. Moony was simply stiff. And because he was stiff, work would hurt his muscles, which encouraged resistance, and even induced occasional bucking.

So to cure this stiffness, I focused on riding Moony forward into a contact, rather than trying to balance his trot through slowing it. I found that in a fast, almost lengthened sort of trot, Moony was able to find his balance and began relaxing into my hands and working properly again. I kept my legs quietly at his sides, and every time his head came up, I pushed him forward again until he dropped it – keeping a very soft, light hand all the while. This worked extremely well, but Moony still struggled to maintain his frame, since his neck was still stiff.

As such, I decided to loosen him up more, then try to work on his schooling again. I worked relentlessly on his neck flexes, keeping his body straight on the track and bending his head and neck to the inside and the outside in turn. I did this on both reins, and in walk and trot. The more I did, the more supple Moony became, and the more willing he was to work. Before long, I had Moony starting to work very nicely again, maintaining a decent frame and working actively from behind. As always, I was very impressed by his natural balance, which remains as brilliant as ever.

Retraining A Racehorse

And that, my friends, is the general summary of what you have missed in Moony’s training life. Remember to keep your eyes open for more follow-up articles regarding Moony’s training!
Awesome! Great job! Madeira was like that too. She knew nothing.... But it didn't really help that I knew nothing but now I know a bunch so I want to train a horse like this again. Its awesome to look back and see how for she has come, ya know?
  16 days ago  •  7,360 views
Finally There  
Ahh Polo you amaze me! =] Not many people inspire me but you do. Your horses are some of the most gorgeous horses I have EVER seen!
  15 days ago  •  7,363 views
Polo the Weirdo  MOD 
I fully understand! :D That's how it was for me training Polo - Neither of us knew a thing, and we somehow learned together. Absolutely amazing to see how they progress!
  15 days ago  •  7,359 views
Polo the Weirdo  MOD 
Narrow Escape: Naaaw, thank you! :D
  15 days ago  •  7,359 views
Who hoo! Keep up the good work! It seems like you've worked very hard!
  15 days ago  •  7,391 views
Fantasy Farms  
He is such a pretty horse!
  15 days ago  •  7,384 views
Yay!! Tis good to hear more about Moony! He looks like he is coming along great!! Keep up the good work! Such a pretty horsey too!!
  15 days ago  •  7,359 views
-dies- You and Abba CEASE to amaze me! You encourage me to try harder and harder with horses each and every day. I would steal your horses, But you deserve them :3
  15 days ago  •  7,371 views
No Walkin Farms9  
Moonie is even more gorgeous then the last picture I saw of him. How is that possible?! It sounds like he's making progress. I did kinda wonder why you stoped updating us about what was going on with him. I'm glad you decided to let us all know what was happening in the Moon world. =]
  15 days ago  •  7,364 views
Great job!!!
  5 days ago  •  7,414 views
Finally There  
okay third time reading this! Lol. =] I love you fluffies Polo, such amazing creatures you have!
  4 days ago  •  7,380 views
Wanderin Boy Memorial  MOD 
Yay ! Another article about Moony !
These are great articles, Polo. Keep up the great work
  4 days ago  •  7,363 views
I was wondering how her progress was going! Great job with her! :)
  3 days ago  •  7,360 views
BME Sports  
Great job!
  1 days ago  •  7,376 views
Dark Pride  
awesome job :)
  Feb 9, 2011  •  7,515 views
He is going great! He really does pick up over those jumps.
Wish you the best of luck over this year of showing
  Feb 10, 2011  •  7,401 views
Inactive Member  
Good luck with showing Moony! im sure you will get him better in no time your such an amazing rider!
  Feb 12, 2011  •  7,388 views
He's gorgeous :)
  Feb 18, 2011  •  7,375 views
Little Bitty Farm  
He is so beautiful!
  Feb 18, 2011  •  7,396 views
Little Bitty Farm  
Great article!
  May 9, 2011  •  7,536 views
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