Good Morning! I hope the weather is as nice where you are as it is for me. The high here has been in the mid 80s all week and the mornings start out in the upper 60s. It just feels amazing! I can’t wait for Fall and the leaves to change. They are saying NC will have some of the best color that it has had in years. 🙂
Now that the temps have cooled down, I’ve been doing a lot more riding. Rumor and I are getting back in shape after a taking the summer off and gearing back up for fall shows. I must say, taking time off most definitely did us good. Before I thought we had clicked and were figuring each other out pretty well but now it’s at a whole new level. We both are very in tune with each other and riding has been so fun. I actually think Rumor enjoys our rides as much as I do because she doesn’t get upset to leave Gracie, she’s ok if I turn the other horses out while I ride and even tacking up she doesn’t get mad when I cinch her up.
When I started riding again, we kept our rides short and didn’t overdo it. I wanted to bring her back into work slow and easy, not just start working her like I had before the break. In the beginning, we did a lot of trotting around the arena with very little loping. As I could tell she could handle more, I would keep increasing the intensity and length of our rides. Now we’re back to getting in a good ride and working on improving things.
Recently Rumor and I had a huge aha moment. But first let me start with some problems we had to fix to get to that aha moment.
So Rumor naturally likes to carry her head high. Not straight up in the air but high enough her back would hollow out. To fix this problem I’ve been working a lot with getting her to reach down in to the bridle and lift her back up. Sometimes I would collect her and other times I would just get her to go with her head down. I’m not one to use training equipment for this, I prefer to use good ole hands and legs. I ask her with my hands to collect or lower her head and I use my legsto push her into the bridle. Months and months of teaching her this and now most of the time she keeps her head lower.
Now that I had that fixed I started to work on keeping her from falling in and dropping her shoulders. Every time I would apply leg pressure and ask Rumor to move off my leg and to the side (which she knew how to do from Raquel teaching her), the minute I remove the pressure she would fall back in. It’s as if my leg was holding her up, so when I moved my leg off she would fall. So to fix this, I spent time just working on asking her to move off the leg pressure, removing the pressure and the minute she would fall back in, I’d apply the pressure again. I’ll admit this was not an easy fix and was quite frustrating at times. What I realized though, was that she just wasn’t balanced. The more we worked on it, the more she started to hold herself up better and she started to feel better under the saddle.
I’m not really sure how to explain how it felt better but I can tell you some of the things that I noticed that were different – my saddle wasn’t slipping side to side anymore, I could feel her using her hind end to move instead of pulling from the front, she was stopping more by putting her back end under her instead of using her front, she would carry herself better through turns and I was having to use my reins less and less to direct her and when I breeze her in the pasture we were faster and I could feel the power of her pushing from her back legs. (as a note – we worked on many things not just the two above which all together is what helped to make the difference)
Which now leads me to the aha moment. Now with her more balanced, we’re ready to start practicing for shows again. First thing I wanted to practice wasn’t just going through the pattern, it was going through the pattern staying balanced and upright. So I started out doing a figure 8 around the barrels. At each barrel I would keep her using her hind end and collected and apply leg pressure so she would fall in towards the barrel and drop her shoulder. It took repetition of doing it a few times to fix the old habits and get it right but that moment when it first happen and I could feel the difference in a good way. OMG. It was awesome. Not only did it just feel so much better but I could feel the power in her hind end, our turns were much cleaner and rounder and we kept a steady pace. It was truly the best feeling. I could not stop smiling.
Now I can’t wait to apply all of this to the pattern. Our next show is late Sept and we’re ready. We’re going to that show and going to run the prettiest and best run we’ve ever had together. Our past shows we’ve been running the bottom of the 4d. Partly because we were getting use to each other and partly because we needed to work on these things. My goal for the next show is to be at the bottom of the 3d or top of the 4d and I’m fully confident we can do it. I’m excited and ready!
So Tell Me…
What have you been teaching your horse lately? What is your goal for your next show?