Knowing When To Take A Step Back – Dante’s Diaries

Should I be giving up? If you have read one of my recent blog post’s on Dante’s progress, you would know that recently I have been trying to do some work focusing on Dante’s topline and getting him to work himself into a proper outline.  Let me tell you, it has finally started to take its toll on both of us. I am exhausted by it all.

Over the weekend, Orla took a trip over to my yard & we set up a jumping course, for a change of scenery for Coco & well for a bit of fun for us all. Well, the word fun wouldn’t be what I would use to describe the situation! Crazy, no Control, demon horse would be a few words I would use to describe Dante. 

He was bulldozing around the arena, his head 10 foot up in the air with a massive snotty head on him, but at the same time he knew he had the power, he was thoroughly enjoying himself jumping all the fences at his own pace and on his own terms. To be fair to him, he was jumping out of his skin but he was doing exactly what he wanted & not listening to me one bit!

Throwing his head up in the air after he jumps has become his new go to technique”, to me it almost seems like a F**k you at times, but then it doesn’t stop me from thinking if he is doing it out of a possible pain. Is his saddle is due a change? Is it pinching him in a way that him lifting his head is how he reacts?  After speaking to one of my trainers before jumping again, he suggested putting ground poles after the jumps so that he had to look and concentrate, therefore he had to keep his head down & well keeping his head down is what he done. So I am not too sure if it is a pain related issue. 

Dante’s flat-work has been in full swing since my last post (insert post) if you had read about our Monthly exercise everything has been flat work based with poles incorporated. But it is almost as if he is getting frustrated & bored by it at this stage, therefore his starts to take the piss slightly when he does get to jump, thinking he can run wild around the place. Unfortunately for me, he is quite clever and has realised that once he puts that head up in the air to a certain height, he has all the control. 


The frustration right now is too much a real thing! We ride so in sync for the first 10/15 mins & then it’s as it he just switches & stops listening to me and does his own thing until I get so frustrated by him. Sometimes I will admit I just leave him cause I cant be coping with an argument, and when I get flustered I start to go heavy on my hands which is something I don’t want to start doing. 

Using Gadgets

I am not overly fond of using gadgets anymore but to get his head down” but over the past week, I have had to resort to this to get a bit of control over him. And my god the difference. I had some bit of control again, I was able to contain his speed, his power and work that energy up into my hands with the help of draw reins. 

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to have to resort to using gadgets on him to get his head down, but if I want to get anything done, unfortunately in this moment in time I have to. I have decided to use draw reins on him once a week, & momentarily use them as a back up if he starts to act out again whilst being ridden. 

Hopefully using them once a week will get him thinking that his head needs to be low, that & with the correct constant aids when the draw reins are off, I am praying it will stick in his head! The problem with Dante also, is that he still doesn’t have enough muscle to hold himself in that outline for too long, which I totally understand, but the snotty behaviour when he gets a bit of freedom is simply very annoying & something I don’t want him doing. 

I know a lot of people don’t agree with this method, but I can reassure you they are used correctly & not being overused as some people say to create a false outline. 

His Diet & Energy Levels

The winter is finally nearly coming to an end, I am praying for the good lush grass to come back. I have taken a step back and took the time to absorb him, and from doing that I have really started to see a drop In Dante’s energy levels, without all that intake of grass he used to get in the summer. The last week I have doubled up his feed intake, adding in a new addition called Pink Mash(which I highly Recommend). untitled

I am starting to think possibly his intake of food wasn’t high enough with the amount of work he had been doing. When comparing his feed to another horse in the yard, a 15hh compact mare, he was on a similar feeding schedule as her & well there is a huge difference in the two of them. So increasing his feed was on the to do list ASAP practically doubling up his portions.  He is not an easy horse to keep condition on in the winter, he is so big & long, he could eat for days & after one flustered riding session he drops it. If he works himself up to that stressful self, he sheds pounds.  

After increasing his feed the past week, I have seen a huge difference. His bursts of energy are up again, I have energy to work with when he is being ridden, in other words I am no longer dead after the first 5 minutes of riding using all my energy getting him to move out of that flat dead trot/Canter. Everything has that bounce back to it again.

For Anyone interested on Dante’s Feed: He gets fed twice a day, Morning & Evening, (Along with all of the hay he is given!) 2 Scoops of Pulp, 1 scoop of Cool N Easy, 1 scoop of Pink Mash, Spoon of Garlic Supplement & Karron Oil. I had him on a top-liner, but I have recently stopped this as over the past few months I couldn’t see any difference or improvement in this at all. I had been using Build & Glow, but it just doesn’t seem to be doing anything for him! 

Hoping To See a Difference

Over the next two weeks, I really want to focus on short effective 20 minute sessions with Dante, keeping everything short and sweet possibly Incorporating small jumps into my flat work exercises may be something I need to start doing again to keep him interested. I also want to start long reining him once a week hoping that the contact will translate up into his riding more. Along with getting out into the field more for training sessions, changing the scenery for him. The weather the past few weeks has been dreadful, we would of been slipping everywhere if we went into the field!

After the two weeks, or should I say after I see an improvement in his behavior, I am planning on giving him 2 weeks off. Letting his brain absorb everything & well to be honest, I think it is an over due break possibly for both of us. Over the Christmas period he never got much time off but he was in and out of work, followed by the last few weeks of hard work. 

Its only fair to say that he deserves a good break out in the field! 

Hopefully we both get ourselves back to normal soon, and get these quirks sorted out, there just seems to be something in the air with these horses the last few weeks! 

As always thanks for reading, & do leave any tips / comments if you have any, all feedback is greatly appreciated.