Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Thewifedoesntknow Training Blog: Week 8

Part 9 in a weekly series of training blogs about Thewifedoesntknow, a Thoroughbred mare made famous by a viral YouTube video and who is now in training to be a show hunter with New Jersey-based trainer Carole Davison. 

No hoof, no horse, so Thewifedoesntknow's feet come first in this week's update. Farrier Craig Farrell put a new set of shoes on her, and he was very happy with her hoof health. With this new shoeing cycle, I see more heel and less toe.
 Carole warmed up Ally-Gator for an early evening ride. This week, she switched bits from a copper roller D-ring snaffle to a Myler comfort snaffle. Ally rode nicely in the new bit and seemed quite content with it. During their ride, Carole worked on more transitions within the gaits, from a working trot to a forward trot, and from a working canter to a forward canter. From these exercises, Ally gained confidence and had more step in her gait and drive from her hind end.
After trotting some poles, Carole took Ally over a few little cross rails. The mare took the jumps gamely and honestly. Some attempts were greener than others, and she tapped the rail when she approached the jump too short, but then she gave Carole a really nice effort when she got her feet figured out.
After the cross rails, Carole cantered Ally over a pole and then did her regular cooldown routine. Ally is getting the hang of things, and stretched right into a relaxed trot on a loose rein.
 When I arrived at the farm to take pictures of Carole's training session, I had just finished a ride on my own Thoroughbred, Wizard, and was still in my riding clothes. With very minimal arm-twisting, Carole convinced me to ride Ally.
Ally is LOVELY to ride; she was very tolerant of all my bad riding habits, and was responsive to seat, leg, and hands. I'm 5'8", and she took up my leg nicely, and rode bigger than she looked. She had a big, loose, swingy walk. At the trot, she listened to my leg and accepted contact with the bit. A lot of green horses either curl behind the bit or pull on a rider's hands, but Ally kept a nice, steady contact and was able to have a "conversation" with me through the reins.
Her canter is fantastic, with a smooth, scopey stride. I felt her greeness the most during transitions and bending, but for a mare who is just barely 2 months off the track, I was truly impressed with her. I also LOVED riding in Carole's saddle, which is a fabulous old Crosby Prix de Nations model with nothing to it- no poofy knee rolls, no thigh blocks.
There are many things that a trainer can teach a horse, but there are other things that are part of a horse's personality. Ally stood calmly for photos, and impressed me with her willing nature for our entire ride. Many horses would have been frustrated or confused by a new rider, but she took it all in stride. This mare has a very bright future indeed.

 -Sarah Andrew


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