Ditto’s progress –on the road to the RRP Makeover 2016

Update on our RRP entry We Found Love (Ditto)-

We brought Ditto home to our house in late July so I could focus on bringing him along. He is not the best eater, and still has cow pie manure. His feet have been iffy but we have gotten along well with glue on shoes and night turnout. When we first started regular flat work, he couldn’t carry himself at all- he would either charge around at the trot or stop. We did a good bit of flat work to improve his strength and balance, and he proved that he has a ton of “try.” We did some more jumping, progressing to  little 2 ft straight rails at the trot. We entered the TASS show at MD State Fair on 8/31 to see where we were– and it wasn’t far.  He behaved well with all of the commotion but the 2 ft division had straw bales with rails on top and he just wasn’t ready to tackle this. He tried one fence and had it down, and wasn’t willing or able to tackle any more. Rather than chase him around, I just opted to quit on that and go home and do some more homework. It was obvious we needed to work on our jumping. Straight rails at home were fine but straw bales, walls, etc worried him.

We had 10 days to get ready for the next TASS show at Breezy Run- so I pulled out straw bales at home and added our MAHR panel and a little brush box with yellow flowers to my riding field (also his turnout field.) The sight of these new things in HIS field rattled him so I just went out with him with a halter and shank and let him investigate and then led him over everything. Next day we lunged over them, and on the third day we jogged them under tack. He jumped very greenly but jumped. I quickly learned he wanted me to lose the martingale and float the reins at him. He is super sensitive about his head and nose.

When we got to the Breezy Run TASS show on 9/10, he was tense but settled. His ground rail class caught him off guard and he stopped at the first rail, put his nose down, and then went over. He proceeded to do the x’s ok- wiggly but went- and then in the 2 ft pleasure with two straight rails he did the same. He picked up some ribbons and tried so hard. By then it was really getting hot so we opted to skip the jump start hunter division, which would have tested his confidence over gates and walls…..

We had to make a decision about which RRP division to enter by the following Thursday 9/15. Although dressage has always been my strong suit, he was saying show hunter. I kind of liked the challenge of show hunter, but was thinking maybe it would be better for him to do the dressage. My friends were all probably tired of my texts and calls, picking their brains. He does not have the best trot but his canter is awesome- steady, rhythmic, and balanced. Would RRP have a 2 ft division? (Probably yes). Would he have the confidence to jump a built up course in that big venue? Yikes.

In order to make a final decision, we loaded him up and went to a local farm and pulled out a little wall, gate, and panel. I let him investigate everything and then led him over them. After that I got on and jogged everything – he was great! We ended up cantering a few fences and he was soft, quiet, and adjustable. On the basis of that, we decided to enter the show hunter division….

A few days later (9/17) we had the Fair Hill TB show- he was entered in the 2 ft baby green and the Furlongs to Fences division (for horses right off the track.) We went over Friday night to school and he was super nervous. I was hoping to jump but we were not allowed to school over fences until the morning of the show. Because these morning schoolings can be totally crazy with traffic, and he had been so nervous, I wasn’t thinking we would be able to school at all- but he totally surprised me. He came off the trailer early Saturday much more relaxed. He hacked around the ring with all of the activity like it was nothing. I let him give a fence a good sniff and then he proceeded to jog over everything beautifully- gates, walls, flowers, you name it. I could have cried, I was so proud of him!

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He didn’t pin in the first flat classes- I know we were too forward, in too much of a frame. His first jump class was the 2 ft course of eight fences. He was very very green over the first four fences but then we both got it together and he cantered the second half beautifully and we ended up 8th! In the F2F division he placed 4th in the model with Jacqui’s super handling, and then got a third in the WTC. I realized the judge was pinning the slower poke-your-nose-out horses, so I worked to get him to go more like that. In his last class he had to WTC and then jump two fences in a line. We picked up the wrong lead right in front of the judge at the first canter, but then he was spot on, and jumped beautifully- and we ended up 2nd!

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I feel like he has really turned the corner and we will be ready for KY. I am so proud of this horse….it will be extremely hard to not adopt him myself, but I know he will make someone very very happy.

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