Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rachel and Grandma and an Arabian Horse - Riding the Stallion

Part 1 of Rachel and Grandma and an Arabian Horse

I had warmed the Arabian stallion, Scandalous Legacy up first for my granddaughter, Rachel. I had one instance of the horse talking to the other stallions at the far end of the barn, but had been able to quell the behavior immediately. Now it was Rachel's turn to ride.

Rachel has never ridden a stallion before. I was not concerned about her riding this one because he is a good boy. The horse seems to know when there is someone inexperienced on his back and knows to take care of them. So I knew he would be good for Rachel to ride while the Arabian gelding was recuperating from his fall. (For the story about his fall begin here)

We adjusted the stirrups while Rachel got her helmet. Then I put her up onto the stallion. I told her to move him off of her legs, just like she would do with Dandy, and put him through the warm-up drill so they could get used to each other.

You could see by the expression on the horse's face that he was listening to Rachel closely. The difference between her use of the aids and mine was enough to have him concentrating so he didn't miss a cue. They executed some leg yields and some small figure eights before it was time to send them off to the rail.

It was clear once they were on the straight that Rachel was having some problems keeping her body straight. The horse was like a crystal ball into her riding technique. He was so responsive that each little error showed. The stallion had his head slightly cocked towards the wall and was dropping his inside hip even farther to the inside.

It took quite a while for Rachel to get figured out what she was doing incorrectly. With her dyslexia sometimes she has more problems than others and this was definitely one of her problem days. She was doing the opposite of what she was being instructed to do. She needed to shorten up on her outside rein and bring her outside shoulder back/ Repeatedly she shortened the inside rein and while she did bring the correct shoulder back she somehow rotated her pelvis to do it, which only threw the horse off more.

While it was frustrating to watch and probably even more frustrating for her to ride, she was not off enough to cause a real problem for the horse. Since Legs was not fit, a dramatic error like that ridden for any length of time would have made the horse sore. Crystal made sure to take lots of breaks letting the horse stretch out so that he wasn't any the worse for wear at the end of this lesson.

As Rachel struggled to get her body position fixed, Legs struggled with ignoring the stallions at the far end of the arena. The horse was good the first few laps but finally both of the stallions challenged him with a deafening scream as Rachel and Legs came into the corner. Legs couldn't resist the temptation and let out an answering challenge raising up out of the bridle.

Rachel did a good job with him. She didn't get rattled at all and picked up on him, pushing him forward with her legs and scolding him with her voice. The horse immediately rolled back over into the bridle and went on like nothing had happened. But it didn't stop there.

Several more times at different points during the ride, Legs tried to talk to the other stallions. While Rachel was correcting him, she was catching him just a little late. Like all horses, Legs saw the little bit of opening and used it. He didn't do anything unsafe for Rachel but I was concerned about him learning that he could talk with Rachel on his back. That was not a good precedence to to setting with a stallion, no matter how well behaved.

Crystal and Colleen with both impressed with how well Rachel was doing handling riding the stallion. By the end of the ride she also had figured out her body position and they were travelling straight down the rail.

But I was concerned. I knew that under normal circumstances Legs would never talk like that under saddle and I didn't want to see this behavior re-enforced. There was also the issue of Rachel not caring for the other two horses the way she was supposed to. Grandma was going to do some thinking and then make another change in the plans.

I did speak with Rachel and Colleen both before I left letting them know how disappointed I was. To find that Scandalous Hope was not being worked was something I had not expected to have happen with Rachel. But it had and I was going to deal with it. I also was going to figure out what to do about the talking stallion. There was no room for that kind of behavior in the plans for Rachel. Grandma and an Arabian horse.

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  1. omg-what a stunning photo! gorgeous bay...

  2. Thanks, barngoddess, that is Scandalous Legacy, my herd sire. The picture was taken when he was two but will always be one of my favorites.

  3. great blog, i just uploading a few pictures of my fathers polish Arabian foals. their is nothing greater then an Arabs heart. just lovley.