RE-TRAINING THE EX-RACEHORSE - Insecure loony to a confident friend

Going from strength to strength - Patience is a virtue
But is all going to well!

dixontrottingpolesDixon flourished during his break and when we started road work in July 2010 he had gained enough confidence to go on hacks alone.  When we came across a problem that he wasn't sure about we would simply stand still for a while and look around, if necessary I would get off and lead him past, not making a fuss and then simple re-mount and continue.

I was thrilled because now I could really tone him up and harden his legs ready for hunting which was my ultimate aim.

I continued with flat work lessons including shoulder in and half halts exercises to maintain the discipline and to deter him from spooking. My seat had improved and I could turn or stop him just by using my seat; I had learnt how to become a different rider, hoorah!

Our first Autumn Hunting date was early September and although I was a little anxious about how he would react I felt confident that we had reached a point where he was ready, he was now so much more confident and wouldn't be fazed by the hounds and the field. I was correct Dixon was a true Christian, he did not stress about a single thing, he was a joy and I was so very proud of him.

We went another 3 times before my back problem returned with a vengeance. I was paralysed for three weeks and following doctors advice I was forced to stop riding, a very tough decision but realistic.
I would have to find a home for my very dear friend. It was a tragedy, we had achieved so much together and with Dixon still only a 6 years old, we could have had many more happy times doing all sorts of things Dressage, Jumping, Hunter Trials, Hunting or just hacking out together for miles. 
It was not meant to be for me; as sad as I was, Dixon now has a lovely home where he is cherished and adored which makes me happy.

dixon headI am so pleased with how Dixon turned out, from an the insecure loony to my affectionate confident friend. I had never placed a time scale on achievement; the most important part was that both Dixon and I were totally confident with each stage of our learnings, however small, before we progressed to something else.

Every horse and every rider have different qualities, problems and capabilities of learning; this must be remembered and respected. All the early issues I had with Dixon were solely due to his insecurity which was addressed in a very quiet, patient and loving way; however a different approach to the one I followed would have resulted in a battle, the fear would have manifested to temper in the horse.

The end result being a horse who would not respect boundaries, unclear as to what is expected of them, and ultimately produce a nervous, angry animal with no direction. We were lucky he had not been soured by all his racing and also fortunate that he has a sweet loving nature and willing attitude, if he understood what was being asked of him he would try his hardest to do it well.
What more could you ask?

Where, in this wide world
Can man find nobility without pride?
Friendship without envy.
Or beauty without vanity?

Here, where grace is laced with muscle,
And strength by gentleness confined.
He serves without servility.
He has fought without enmity.

There is nothing so powerful,
Nothing less violent,
There is nothing so quick,
Nothing more patient.

England's past has been borne on his back,
All our history is his industry,
We are his heirs,
He our inheritance.

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