Retraining A Racehorse – Moonfire – Show Preparation
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   24th Feb 2011   •   7,256 views   •   19 comments
Retraining A Racehorse – Moonfire – Show PreparationsOn 3 February 2011, one of our show venues was having an open day – allowing riders to pay to use the arena for one-hour sessions.

This was the perfect opportunity to prepare Moony for his first show of the new year!

So we set out – ready to give Moony some much-needed exposure to spooky jumps in a show arena.

When we arrived, I started by trotting Moony on a loose rein right around the arena – stretching him out and getting him settled in his new surroundings. He snorted and goggled at some of the jumps, but still remained calm and sensible for the most part.

Once he was loose and settled, I chose a corner of the arena and started working him on the flat, getting him active and responsive so he would be ready to jump. He seemed quite distracted, so I had him perform lots of transitions to get his attention.

Once he was listening, I worked on some serpentines to get him bending nicely – then lengthened his trot down the long side of the arena – reminding him to move forward from my leg.

By this stage, Moony was listening nicely, so I moved into canter. At first, he was reluctant to give me the new, powerful canter that we’ve been working on developing since our jumping clinic with Andreas Hollmann. When I went into a light seat, however, Moony began to respond. He came into a rounder frame and started moving forward from behind – getting his weight onto his quarters.

Once he was cantering comfortably, I sat down in the saddle again, and tried to get him working properly from seat-aids as well as legs. Moony did work properly, and we soon managed to get the canter I had been looking for.

Then, it was time to jump!

We started by warming up over a low cross-bar, and I focused on keeping Moony straight, and keeping that lovely canter that we had worked so hard to achieve. I rode him especially positively, using a lot of leg and keeping my hands steady to concentrate on getting Moony straight to the other side, since it was a new place with new jumps and I knew he might be hesitant. He did indeed scuttle slightly on his approach to that first jump, but with my legs strong on his sides, he popped happily over, then proceeded to do it several more times without any fuss.

Retraining A Racehorse – Moonfire – Show Preparation

We then repeated the procedure over the same jump, first as a small upright, then as a slightly larger one the same height as the rest of the course – which seemed to range from 80cm to 90cm.

After that, I popped Moony over one of the simpler spreads, which – with a positive ride in – he did with absolutely no hesitance!

Then it came time to work around the course and take him over the spookiest jumps individually before putting it together. We started with a little white gate with spooky red and blue wings, which had been made into a parallel by a pole behind it. On the first attempt, Moony skidded to a stop, obviously frightened of this strange jump. So I let him sniff at it, then presented him to it again – but he still wasn’t willing to jump it. So I asked my instructor to remove the back pole, and rode Moony at the little gate on its own. He still hesitated slightly, but with the back pole down, I was still able to push him over.

After that, he popped over once more very comfortably. We replaced the back pole, and he jumped it perfectly happily. After a big praise session, we moved on to the next jump, then the next, and gradually schooled him over all of the more frightening obstacles. However, nothing else proved a problem to Moony, and the more he did – the more confidence he gained.

Soon enough, it was time to put together a course. The first time round, Moony went very nicely– but we had one awkward stride into a tricky line, causing him to clip two poles.

Retraining A Racehorse – Moonfire – Show Preparation

The next time round, I increased the tempo of his canter and rode the course in a more forward rhythm. This time, his jumps felt much smoother, and he had an absolutely lovely round. Our only error was taking one pole from landing on a turn – so we repeated that particular section of jumps, and I practiced riding Moony straight after the jump. I found it very helpful to choose a landmark in the distance and focus on riding toward it.

Finally, at the end, we raised three of the jumps to about 1 meter to give Moony a bit of a challenge. It took a few attempts to get the correct striding and style over the higher jumps, but Moony still cleared them easily, and confidently, leaving me certain that he had the potential to go so much higher.

After Moony’s jumping session, I took my Polo-horse around a nice big course for a bit of fun – then my instructor and I treated them to lovely cool-down walk in a forest, which both horses greatly enjoyed. It was a wonderful training session, and I left it feeling fully prepared for the up-coming show.
No Walkin Farms9  
Look at those photos. Is it possible for Moonie to look any better then he does in these? I think not. But I'm sure the next article about him will prove me happily wrong. lol.
  Feb 24, 2011  •  5,764 views
MS Horses  
Loved your article! You are such a good jumper! Your horse is awesome at jumping too! You two look great together!
  Feb 24, 2011  •  5,756 views
You make it look and sound so easy!! Moony looks fabulous and I can't wait to hear about the show!!
  Feb 25, 2011  •  5,737 views
T W I  
I can totally tell that your Moonie is going to be a star!
  Feb 25, 2011  •  5,756 views
Wanderin Boy Memorial  
Great photo ! He's such a great jumper. You must be very proud of him
  Feb 25, 2011  •  5,739 views
Little Bitty Farm  
Great article!I just love the pictures and your horse is just beautiful!
  Feb 25, 2011  •  5,772 views
Finally There  
I LOVE reading these Polo! He's so amazing! Ah, so jealous! Maybe someday Narrow will be this good. *winks*
  Feb 25, 2011  •  5,778 views
Great work! Beautiful horse.
  Feb 25, 2011  •  5,740 views
Chris Antley Memorial  MOD 
Moonie is amazing!

You are a very talented and gifted rider.

  Feb 25, 2011  •  5,793 views
Lovely horse
  Feb 25, 2011  •  5,753 views
Loved it!!
  Feb 25, 2011  •  5,754 views
Polo the Weirdo  MOD 
Thanks so much everyone! :D
  Feb 26, 2011  •  5,736 views
I love you story! It is really good, your also scuh a great jumper!
  Feb 26, 2011  •  5,942 views
:) You both look great!
  Feb 27, 2011  •  5,761 views
Untamed Heart  
You and your horse are very talanted... My horse would try to eat the jumps instead of jump them... :) Ill stick to western...
  Feb 27, 2011  •  5,754 views
Seven Sins  
stunning photos, great article
  Feb 28, 2011  •  5,738 views
Inactive Member  
Its offical Polo, nobody can ever beat you at horse training, you have done soooo well xx
  Mar 2, 2011  •  5,764 views
Clair L  
wow i wish i could do that but they don't have those kinds of competitions here):
  Mar 15, 2011  •  5,769 views
Inactive Member  
You and Moony look like you were made for each other! He goes so well for you!
  Apr 20, 2011  •  5,764 views
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