Sunday, August 5, 2007

More on Rachel and Grandma and an Arabian Horse Part 2

The Rachel and Grandma and an Arabian Horse series begins with the original post. Yesterday's post is the beginning of current happenings in the series is More on Rachel and Grandma and an Arabian Horse

There's nothing more frustrating to me than seeing lessons being given to Rachel riding the Arabian horse on the rail and the horse going long and flat. Since I know the horse and how he should be going and the fact that the horse does know how to go correctly, it just doesn't make sense to me to be doing the same thing over and over when it's just not working.

I rarely ride my horses on the rail. I like to save that for the show ring. I prefer to ride them every which way. Whatever works at the time to get the desired effect. My training strategy is to make it easy for the horse to do the right thing. So since I want the horse to go in a collected manner, I want to find a way to make that easy for the horse to understand.

My warm-up exercises are based on those principles. I like to flex and bend my horses to get them pushing off well from behind, lifting their backs and shoulders and overall rounding their bodies including their necks into a collected frame. Most of this work I do on the circle.

I can use the size of the circle to determine more or less collection. Sometimes I combine circles and work in the form of a figure eight. This works particularly well in keeping the horse on task. Changing up direction often and even the pattern of changes helps to alleviate the horse thinking he has it figured out. I find anytime the horse thinks he knows what's coming next, he's just not as focused as I would like.

Keeping these things all in mind, I decided to reteach Rachel the warm-up exercises I do with Dandy, the Arabian horse. It is clear from how flat she rides the horse on the rail that she doesn't really understand the exercises and the horse doesn't really understand what she is asking with her aids. I wanted Rachel to go back to learning how to move the horse off of her inside leg to the outside.

To do that, I wanted her to keep the horse square between her legs and put her inside leg on the horse. The response I wanted from the horse was for him to evenly step over to the side still staying square underneath his rider.

Of course, since the horse is going to take the easiest way out, he's going to drop a shoulder or a hip or maybe speed up. Anything to make it easier to move away from the pressure of the inside leg. The rider will need to block any or all of those evasions, thus making it easy for the horse to do the correct thing which is to round up it's back as it drives forward from behind.

Dandy's big sin in this scenario is to drop his outside shoulder and speed up. I gave Rachel instructions on closing those doors but she struggled with understanding them and the timing. The result was a lot of frustration on both the part of the horse and the rider.

To help both of them get this exercise easier, I got back onto the horse and repeated the exercise over and over until the horse was clear about what I wanted him to do. I narrated to Rachel as I was making each correction to keep the horse square between my legs and exaggerated my cues so she could see them clearly.

Then I put Rachel back on him and she asked the horse again. I didn't let her ask anything else of him, just the steps sideways, so as not to confuse him. Again I narrated the corrections for each misstep until she got the horse moving off squarely underneath her.

To be continued............

Part 3

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  1. GREAT post! Can't wait to read more!!

  2. Very interesting post to read, and a bit educational on to to get horses to do what you want and how to do it easy. I would of liked to seen this in person though. Maybe someday.

  3. My riding skills are seriously lacking compared to yours, I will have to get some riding lessons when I finally come and visit LOL. Hope Rachel is doing well and here's hoping that you get to the show. (((Hugs)))


  4. Ah...such a struggle, isn't it? I'll bet you're happy there's a generation to buffer those lessons, eh? I can't imagine trying to get Darling to cooperate through lessons like that!