Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sizing Things Up.......The Ride.........

Part 1

In addition to not travelling square, each time I put my legs on the Arabian horse to push him into the bridle, Storm speeded up and popped his head into the air. I could wiggle my fingers to get his head down but as far as the horse was concerned putting his head down did not include driving forward and through the bit. The horse had clearly been ridden off a rider's hands with little if any leg.

Of course these issues all got exaggerated at the jog. Trying to block a dropped shoulder was pointless. The horse was all over the place and I could not get him to move off that shoulder no matter what I tried. It looked to me like Storm just didn't get what I was asking. I was going to have to work that shoulder before I could expect him to do come through for me.

I brought the horse down to a halt so we could work on side passing and then turning on the haunches to remind the horse what I wanted from his shoulders. At first Storm acted like he had no clue what I meant. It was as if he'd never done this before even though I knew he had because I'd taught him these things myself and he had been doing them quite well the last time I'd ridden him two years ago. I think it was just that he'd not been asked to do them in so long that he was unsure.

I headed the horse into the wall giving him a barrier to exclude one of his options. With no room to go forward, the horse soon figured out the leg pressure and open rein was a sideways request. Once that was determined it was relatively simple to get him turning on the haunches. As soon as we had those pieces in place the horse was right back moving his shoulder like he had been the last time I'd ridden him.

Armed with the renewed cue I went back to working at the jog. It was slow all right but it just wasn't true. The horse wasn't using his back end the way I wanted at that slow pace. Any attempt to push him up underneath himself still resulted in the horse speeding up and popping his head. At least now with the cue to catch his shoulder it was easier to get the horse straight underneath me so that the impulsion could go where it was supposed to be. The horse groaned at the hard work each time I got him square underneath me lifting his back and driving straight through to his face.

The lope was a whole other challenge. I got the underneath himself and then asking him to lope but it resulted in confusion for the horse. At first I didn't even get a lope. Instead I got a half lope half trot bouncy kind of thing. It seemed clear he didn't know how to carry himself correctly and transition into the lope.

Don't ask me why I decided to try the other direction instead of fixing this one but I did. For some reason going to the right turned out to be easier for the horse to figure out but then I didn't ask him to round up before asking for the lope either. At least he went right into the gait instead of using that "tropy" thing, not that the horse was square or really using himself but at least he was in the right gait. That was a huge improvement.

I spent just enough time working this direction to see what I had. Well, maybe it would be more accurate to say I spent enough time to see what I didn't have. I could get the horse pushed up underneath himself where he belonged but he just couldn't sustain it. The minute I released the horse quit driving from behind. Any use of my legs to push him back forward resulted in his head going up and out of the bridle. just as I had expected.

I went back to the first direction and again asked the horse to lope just like I had going to the right. The horse went into the lope much better without asking him to be collected first. After he was in the gait, then I could work on asking him to collect. I'm not going to say the horse was getting the hang of getting underneath himself but I could get it from time to time. It was clear it wasn't something he was used to doing.

Since evaluating what the horse knew was really my sole purpose for this ride, I stopped as soon as I had the information I wanted. I'd been watching the horse closely for signs of sweat. I didn't want to overdo this first workout. Even though this ride had taken only about ten minutes, the horse was beginning to show signs of sweat on his neck. I figured that was enough for the first day so I called it quits.

Imagine my surprise when I pulled the saddle to find an inch thick white foam the consistency of shaving cream under the saddle pad. If there was any question the horse wasn't used to this kind of work out, the sweat certainly answered that. Considering the length of this workout I couldn't get over the amount of sweat on the horse's back. I had expected sweat but nothing like this. It looked to me like it must might be a long road with Storm.

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

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  1. Small steps, but in a good direction.

  2. I'm with EnglishRider; my first thought was better to travel the long road in the right direction than to go the short and wrong :o)

  3. Holy crow, I've never seen foam under the saddle like that. Poor boy has a long way to go doesn't he? Thank goodness you got him back.

  4. I know I've said this before, but I look forward to this new adventure you and Storm are taking. I hope that possibly next year?????the two of you can make it into the show ring :) I love that horse!!!

  5. Glad you got him back and can get him working again, doing the right thing.