Imatexan was a Bits & Bytes Farm Web site Prospect Horse at the Track in January 2011. She came to Bits & Bytes Farm to begin her new life as a sport horse. Follow along as we train her to become a fox hunter.
Susan and I (Elizabeth) tacked up Imatexan and brought her up to the arena where a crowd had gathered. I walked her around the arena so that she could see her boundaries. If anything was spooky we could safely deal with it from the ground. All went well and Imatexan saw no boggy monsters hiding in the arena. Susan and I were each prepared for the worst by wearing a flack jacket and helmet. Barry was on hand to hold the lunge line and reel in the riders if a problem were to occur. These are safety measures we use with any new horse. We may know who rode them at the track and know they were quiet but this is a new location and it is totally different from a race track. Everything is new and could be scary to a timid horse.
We like to lunge the horse first to let them get out any extra energy they may be experiencing due to nerves. Imatexan had no idea what we were asking of her so rather than try to teach her something new, we did what she was expecting, and I hopped on.
When you get on a new horse, you can almost instantly feel what you have under you. Most all of the Thoroughbreds who come through our farm are calm and quiet as soon as a rider gets on the first time. Imatexan was no different.
NOTE: We get on in the middle of the arena with a safety person helping. If you are going to be bucked off, better to be in the middle of the arena than next to a fence. The fence is harder than the sand.We have a lunge line on the horse and someone who knows how to keep it from getting in the way.
Barry led me for a minute or so and I felt comfortable and safe enough to be let free from my safety line. Imatexan walked off like a the lady that she is. Soon I had her trotting around the arena and doing walk/trot transitions. Next was the canter. At first she did not want to canter and just trotted faster and faster. We restarted and I balanced her better and then she went into a can but on the wrong lead. Thinking it would be easier to change directions than to get her pick up a canter again, I sat up and started to apply rein pressure to get her to bend and turn to go the other direction. She did a perfect flying change so I turned her straight and we continued our canter around the arena. It was like riding a rocking horse! She is so wide and so smooth I did not want to get off but her new mom, Susan, was anxious to see what I was smiling about.
Susan is planning on fox hunting Imatexan so it is important that she is a comfortable ride for her. Riding Imatexan for me was like sitting down on an overstuffed comfortable couch. Susan got on next and I led her around until she relaxed and felt how relaxed Imatexan was. Within two minutes, Susan had a smile like mine on her face. Next she needed to check out the trot as that is the gait most used in fox hunting. Imatexan has an extremely smooth trot and can also do a slow Western jog when asked. Perfect! Susan gave her lots of praise and we finished the day with everyone smiling and the crowd clapping.
The next day Imatexan got some ground training with our resident horse whisperer Cepharino. He is almost silent and the horses seem to understand what he is asking of them. He put a rope halter on Imatexan and took her to the arena where he despooked her with a plastic bag on the end of a carrot stick. She was totally unconcerned as he waved it over her back, neck and head. Next he did the same technique with the end of the long lead rope. He swung it in the air, smacked it on the ground and let it drop onto her back and neck. He taught her to lunge in a tight circle around him and then in a larger circle. He taught her to ground tie and to pay attention to him even as he had be call to her from outside the arena. She was calm the whole time and she was licking and chewing in submission to his quiet teachings. Imatexan needs to learn to stay out of your space when you are leading her and these are a few of the techniques Cepharino is using to educate her.