Levi has had a full letdown from the track (lots of pasture turnout time to “just be a horse”). He has a mild, well-healed bowed tendon. Earlier in November, our vets (Austin Equine Hospital) examined him and approved him to begin work. His tendon has been sound since he arrived at LOPE and has been healed since 2013.
We have done some light ground work and round pen sessions with Levi. He is a sensitive, sweet young horse with wonderful movement (especially for dressage). As we prep for Levi to be restarted under saddle, we want to be sure he feels confident and ready. Levi will do his best to please the teachers here — he is anxious to not make any mistakes and will sometimes hold his breath until he is sure he gave the right answer.
Like many horses who come to LOPE from the track, Levi has some stiffness in his jaw, poll and neck — and we are careful to let him discover that he can stretch all these areas. The LOPE teachers are also especially aware to release immediately when Levi gives the slightest try on these flexions on the ground.
During his most recent session on Friday, Levi did especially well. He still has some stiffness in his jaw and poll, but he tries his best to do the flexions. Suzanne and Levi worked on the “go by” exercise as well as yielding hind and front quarters.
Levi is very light and sensitive — so he easily responds to cues off of the handler’s body language alone. He does sometimes worry and then rush a little when you step toward his hindquarters (to ask for the yield) but he quickly figures out he’s not in trouble.
After the ground work session, Suzanne free lunged him. Levi pretty instantly went into an “autopilot” work mode — where he tensely trots in a business-like way. But he did relax within a few minutes on each side, which was really nice to see.
Like most green horses, Levi is more sensitive and worried about things that happen on his right side. But because he is so smart, and truly wants to get the right answer, he is super quick to learn. Levi has also decided that the halter and lead rope might not be so bad, and he can even play with them like a puppy.
Test Results: Grade A+ for effort and willingness, Grade A for natural movement, Grade B for flexions on the left side, Grade C+ for flexions on right side (but improving steadily).
Overall Assessment: Levi is ready to start with saddling and preparing for riding work. It will be important to go slowly with him, due to his sensitive (in a good way) nature — but it looks like Levi will quickly gain confidence as he learns new things.