Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Wendy Potts Clinic.......Wendy Rides Storm

Part 1- Wendy Potts Clinic

Part 1 - Sizing Things Up - Status on Storm

Once we had the stirrups changed to what she thought was the right length, Wendy Potts was up in the saddle on Storm. The horse had no reaction to a different rider mounting, which was good, but for some reason as she put her foot into the stirrup I had flashbacks of a similar situation with Rhythm years ago.

I will never forget the day that Rhythm thought no one should ride him but me. The person trying to get on nearly found themselves in the dirt as the horse whirled around to escape the strange rider. With everything Storm has been through and all the unexpected things that have happened with him since then, I guess I was preparing myself for the worst.

Thankfully, there was no worst. When Wendy Potts put her legs into Storm he moved off just as she asked. It was clear he was trying to do as asked right from the start.

Wendy Potts immediately went to moving the horse laterally off her legs to the inside and to the outside. She must not have been getting what she wanted because the next thing you know she was pulling Storm's head around to her knee and moving his hind end around just as she had done with the young horse with little saddle time.

It was clear right from the start that Wendy Potts was taking Storm back to square one. Even though the horse had two years under saddle while he was gone, he hadn't learned anything that was useful towards becoming a finished show horse. In reality what he had learned was all detrimental and now we were going to see what we be the most efficient way to get the horse back on track and moving the way he used to move.

I felt sorry for Storm as I watched this. Unlike the young horses she had worked with, Storm no longer has any of his natural movement. Everything he does, even on the ground, has been affected by the way he was forced into a frame until he locked up pretty much from head to toe.

While I could feel that was the case while riding him, I hadn't actually seen what he looked like with a rider until now. Watching Wendy Potts broke down some of the denial I was hanging onto about this horse. I knew I was right about him but I wanted to still believe it really wasn't that bad. Now, my whole perception of the problem with Storm get more real and it made me a little bit sick.

Wendy Potts continued working the horse off around her leg to one side and then to the other. As the horse loosened up, she allowed him to move off a few strides in a circle before pulling him down and circling around himself the other direction. She worked the horse some at a sitting trot using her seat to help push him more. She also worked him the same way some at the canter.

The whole point was to get the horse going forward and doing it correctly. The biggest obstacle to this was the tightness in his ribcage and his shoulders. The only thing that was working to loosen him up were those tight circles around himself. Sometimes I wondered how Wendy Potts was maintaining her equilibrium travelling around in those tiny tiny circles as the horse turned around himself on the forehand.

Storm tried to understand what was being asked of him but he was clearly frustrated. He didn't seem to mind the circles nearly as much as he did the requests to move laterally off her leg at the trot or the canter. Then she was faced with the frustrated horse trying to tell her it just didn't make sense. Lots of tail swishing, some bucking and some head shaking were mixed in with some strides that appeared to be getting better.

Wendy Potts stayed calm and quiet with Storm. She didn't ever lose patience with him over his resistance she just methodically worked through it. While Storm wasn't getting the big picture, there were definitely signs this was the right track for this horse. It was a long way from how I knew Storm should be moving but I could see the signs of progress.

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

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  1. It's always good to see someone else ride the horse so you can see what's going on with them. It's good that she's a rider who remains calm with horses. Personally, I'd be dizzy doing those spins. Dusty used to try it on me years ago and you just don't know where to look to keep your equilibrium, maybe that's just me though.

  2. Aww its tough to get a horse that has talent but been taught wrong, good luck still, sounds like Wendy sure knows what she is doing though, hope it helps.

  3. Andrea, thanks for stopping by.

    Arlene, I get dizzy too. If there's a place to look to stop it, I sure haven't figure it out. LOL But it sure has been working for this horse so I guess I need to get used to it.

  4. I think that Storm will get it with time! It sounds like Wendy Potts is a wonderful trainer and that with her guidence you and Storm will be right on track for where you'd like him to be.

  5. It's always toughter to fix the way of going after it's been messed with than it is to teach it correctly in the first place. I'm so sorry Storm has to go through this. He's lucky to have you. Otherwise who knows what his future would be.

  6. It's hard to break a cycle of behavior that has been learned over the years. I hope Wendy can make some real progress with Storm! Best of luck to the both of you.

  7. I have seen lots of Quarter Horses that have been through that - it isn't of things teaching them to be themselves again.

  8. poor storm, i hope he learns quickly. it must have been so hard for you to see from the ground what had been done.

    keep trying, storm! you have both compassion and hard work ahead.

  9. When it all falls into place and clicks- the results will be amazing for both you AND especially the horse.

    Unfortunately, once the horse has been pushed, shoved, held and locked into a 'frame', it takes a little while for them to relax, unwind and come back to reality where they have some freedom of movement.

    You can't train them in one day, you can't retrain them in one day. At least you have a good starting point as to what you need to do and work on. The journey begins with one step.

  10. I like the way how you described that she worked methodically through it. You almost have to expect a horse to get frustrated with new requests and understand that you might have to ride out a few bucks and some head shaking.