I have had my OTTB Caleb for about a year. When I got him, I was somewhat playing around with English riding, but always grew up a "western girl". I competed in rodeo and showed Paso Finos but had never had experience with an OTTB or thoroughbred at all. I bought him sight unseen. Probably the best decision I ever made. When I got him, he was very gangly and had no muscle or top line at all. I used him as a trail horse and just babied him.
About 4 months ago, I decided to get really serious about English riding because I wanted to expand my knowledge in the equestrian world. Caleb has an old racing injury, so I decided to take a go at dressage. Little did I know that it would change both of us tremendously for the better. I got an old Wintec dressage saddle for $100 and the basic tack needs required to get us started.
We had our first lesson in February. I learned so much about him and myself that I did not know before our lesson. He was not balanced at all, he was falling in on the 20 meter circle in both directions miserably, and did not know how to use his shoulders. He did not travel "straight" at all. Growing up on western horses, I was taught to ride on a loose rein. I quickly realized riding with contact helped him tremendously.
Four months later, little by little, we have worked very hard on the following: Leg yield 20 meter circles W/T/C; Using his shoulders and not falling in; Developing a head set; And becoming all around straighter and more balanced. He has come so far and I am so proud of him! He has gained a lot of muscle and is filling out nicely. I have also developed a much better seat and just all around more knowledge about horses. "Why they do this and that, and what you do to fix this problem."
I am beginning to do the same training and techniques with my other two horses and they are coming along nicely. Hopefully Caleb and I will be ready for our first show soon! Excited for the future!