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Pam Stone: The Benefits of Honest Connection

Blogger Pam Stone shares an update on Voodoo, the willing Off-the-Track Thoroughbred

If anyone deserves the Golden Carrot Award (that I just made up) for the week it’s Voodoo. 

His sudden epiphany that accepting diagonal aids meant instant relaxation and security reminded me of that scene from “The Miracle Worker” in which Annie Sullivan is splashing water from the pump into Helen Keller’s palm, spelling out with her fingers, “W-a-t-er, Helen, W-A-T-E-R!” (To read more about Voodoo and his story, click here) 

It’s opened a whole new door for him! For example, having an honest connection into the outside rein means we can now ride very short bursts of forward and back to help him push off behind and strengthen. 

It means we can turn crisply and approach the poles in a balanced manner. (Not tripping over them is another story…)

But best of all, Voodoo’s newfound straightness has translated into confidence, meaning he no longer has the inclination to leap into the canter, invert, and take a couple of laps at Mach 3. 

He now steps very quietly into canter and I continue to ride it with a slightly longer rein so as not to make him feel the slightest bit claustrophobic, proving to him that he can carry himself; he’s no longer a race horse with someone holding onto his mouth. 

However, I do now expect him to yield in the jaw when I close my outside fist so I can ride him effectively. And of course, the moment he accepts the rein, I immediately release the pressure in my hand. 

Riding early in the morning in August heat means a lot of shade in the arena, which is lovely and cool, but it doesn’t make for the sharpest photos, so apologies for that. I do, however, think they show quite a bit of progress from last week

It’s hard enough for any OTTB to make this kind of transformation, especially those who are challenged by typical OTTB conformation which tends to be downhill. Voodoo may not become the most uphill of movers, but he sure gets a bucketful of carrots for trying. ESPECIALLY the right lead canter!

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