Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Rachel and Grandma and an Arabian Horse

Youth Nationals Here We Come! Part 5

Part 1

As it worked out, Crystal did end up cancelling the lesson with Rachel and Dandy (the Arabian horse) on that first Wednesday. So that gave me (grandma) another full week to work through Dandy's (the Arabian horses) fear about collection being painful.

I continued the horse's workouts with lots of stretching and bending in the beginning of my rides. I advanced into moving the horse's shoulders and hips at the walk and sitting trot as Dandy (the Arabian horse) warmed up. Then I continued on into figure eights at the rising trot, some serpetines, etc. mixing things up to keep the workout fresh for the Arabian horse. I worked the horse at the counter canter to get him lifting his shoulder and worked on lots and lots of transitions, both up and down.

Rachel (granddaughter) had her first lesson on the big gelding (the Arabian horse) the following Monday. I rode the horse earlier in the day and he was coming along nicely. The horse was still worrying about his transitions but trying really hard. Rachel got on Dandy worrying about their last ride when the Arabian horse had run off with her. She was tense and struggling to get things together. The horse started off also uptight but he relaxed sooner than his rider. Crystal kept after Rachel encouraging her to ride her horse instead of being a passenger. Gradually, Rachel's confidence began to build. By the end of the lesson, Rachel was finally riding the horse the way she had been before the incident at the schooling show.

After that first lesson Crystal and Grandma decided maybe for now it would be good for Grandma to school Dandy (the Arabian horse) right before Rachel's lesson. That way the horse would be soft and supple and ready to go so Rachel could work on building her confidence.

During our schooling sessions, I was still having difficulty with the horse being concerned about being collected. By the end of the ride he would be using himself correctly but the horse still tended to want to raise up out of the bridle, hollowing his back and bracing at the leg pressure. That behavior is what had scared Rachel. Originally he had done it because she was not giving him a release. Now he was doing it because he had been pinched badly by the western saddle and was expecting pain to be the result of lifting his back. Unfortunately this was reinforced in his memory banks from the time he had EPM. The lesion on the horse's spine had been in the same area as this injury. It would take a little time and consistency to fix this problem.

I have a device that is made in England that I planned to use on Dandy (the Arabian horse) when Rachel rode. It's called the Harbridge Training Aid. It attaches to the girth and directly to the bit, connecting with snaps at both rings on the snaffle. At the bit end, there are short strips of elastic. If the horse raises up out of the bridle, he hits that pressure and it encourages the horse to round up his back and roll over in the bridle. I like to use it on young horses who don't know what they're doing yet. It helps them to understand that rearing is not what they're being asked to do, when I'm trying to teach them to go forward. The horse can't lean on it in anyway so they can't develop bad habits through it's use. For Dandy, I shortened the device from the length I use with the young horses. I wanted it long enough so it was not keeping him in frame (but close) and short enough it would prevent him from raising up out of the bridle. If the horse made contact with it, the horse would be encouraged to round up and move back into the bridle.

I warmed the horse up and then put Rachel on Dandy's (the Arabian horses) back. I attacked the Harbridge training aid and also added a draw rein. Rachel would ride with a direct rein and have the draw rein as a back up. Between the draw rein and the training aid and the horse's training with both, there was little chance that Dandy (the Arabian horse) would raise up or push through the bridle. It wasn't long into the ride and it was obvious that Rachel was no longer feeling afraid of what the horse might do.

While Dandy (the Arabian horse) started off nicely collected, the horse did manage to get a bit long by the end of the lesson. But what was important was that Rachel had regained her confidence. While the ride was not good enough for the show ring on the Arabian show circuit, it was the best ride hunter pleasure that Rachel had ever had on the Arabian horse.

Entries were due the following week for the first big Arabian horse show of the season in our region, the Daffodil Arabian Spring Show. The decision was made to go ahead and enter Rachel and Dandy in hunter pleasure classes. Whether or not the pair would do western pleasure would depend on the spots on the horse's back healing. As long as Grandma continued to school the horse, Rachel and Dandy should be ready to go an kick some serious stuff at the show the last weekend in April.

To be continued....

Getting to the Daffodil All Arabian Spring Horse Show

See more of my horses on my website Rising Rainbow Arabians

1 comment:

  1. Woohoo way to go and congrats to Rachel!! I am so glad that you are solving the problems and that she is regaining her confidence, you have a FAR higher level of horse training and riding knowledge than I could even hope to have!! If we ever do get together you are gonna have to give me a few riding lessons too LOL.

    Enjoy the next few weeks and here is to hoping that you both kick some serious butt at the end of April.

    Hope it is warming up a bit for you. We are in for another cold spell this weekend. But hopefully it will be shortlived.