Ted (Kroongraaf) was a horse that was given to me to school as he proved difficult for the owner to ride. He was a nappy horse, and apparently strong when he took a notion. With his owner, he had established that he can get out of work if he threatens to go backwards and argue.
When I started working with Ted, I was told that the aim was to improve his flat work and get him going for Dressage, and that’s what I focused on.
Teds’ work wasn’t a quick fix and it was important to look into potential issues as to why he may be napping. I started with the basics of checking tack. A well-fitting saddle and simplifying his bridle arrangement with regards to the bit. With Ted, my plan was to take it back to the basics and see what happens as we progress.
With regards to his napping, I found out on our first session that he simply takes a notion. I mounted, put my feet in the stirrups and he threw his head up, took hold of the bit and run for the gate. After that, I’d seen him nap for no apparent reason (no sign of pain or discomfort) and from then on, I was ready.
Strength DOESN’T matter
With Ted, it was all about timing. When a big 16.3hh warmblood decides he’s going for the gate, no man is going to change his mind through force.
What did matter was simply applying my leg and reaffirming my outside rein at the right time. In doing so, Ted built trust and respect for me as his rider. I was able to school him out of the napping by not having to resort to heavy handiness or aggression. Ted taught me a lesson all about timing.
As we worked together I did begin to establish lateral work. He developed in himself to work rounder and deeper, thus developing topline and I was very happy with his pace and work ethic. Long gone were the days of him napping and now he was a well behaved and very cooperative horse. I also jumped him a few times for a change of pace. Even his jump had improved as a result of his flatwork. Consequently he still needed a lot of work. Time had to be focused on his technique.
My time with Ted ended when his owner decided to sell him. I always enjoyed working with this horse and he particularly made me curious to work with another Kroongraaf in future!