My favorite part of trainer Carole Davison's tackup routine is just before bridling: after removing the halter, Carole gently cradles the mare's face, lightly massaging her delicate cheeks. With each training session, Ally is learning that this is a time to relax and to prepare for work.
When I looked at Carole's latest training notes, I saw a really nice balance between patience and ambition. She introduced Ally to new things when the mare showed her that she was ready.
On June 27, Ally was so balanced and confident that Carole took her over a little cross rail. The first time in, she was a little green in her approach, wiggling a little to the left and the right. The second time, she was straighter, but tapped the rail with her feet on the way over. The next time, she went straighter, and she jumped up bringing her body off the ground, rounding her back without lifting her shoulders or hips. The final time, she relaxed and took the crossrail very quietly, her thick tail flipping up with her hind end, and she cantered softly away from the jump.
On July 4, they embarked on their first trail ride at the local reservoir, accompanied by Liz, Carole's daughter, and Suzie, Carole's Thoroughbred jumper mare. The mares took turns leading and encountered the many new sights and sounds, from dogs to bicycles to joggers.
For each of these exciting landmark rides, Carole puts in twice as many confidence-building rides. There are days when the mare needs consistent work, schooling with the leg and rein aids, and these rides make her light, forward, and ready for the next steps.
While Carole warmed Ally up for our photo session last Friday, I could already see positive changes in her demeanor since the last time I saw them work. She was more confident in her new job, and that confidence translated into a more relaxed, supple topline and a more steady rhythm in her gaits.
Tiffany Catledge's training sessions during the Retired Racehorse Training Project Trainer's Challenge, Carole worked diligently to ask her mare to loosen her topline and encouraged the mare to work long and low.
Please stay tuned each Wednesday for more updates and interviews from the connections of this promising mare.