Thursday, August 12, 2010

Get back to work!

That's what I told myself before my ride yesterday.  I didn't quite get the nice downwards transitions I normally get from Coriander on our last three rides and after thinking about it I realized why. I wasn't asking him for them the way I trained him. It's amazing how you forget everything you know when you ride in a new environment.

I originally trained him to halt when I would exhale a large breath, then stop my seat, and finally squeeze the reins. I got out on the trail and completely bypassed the exhale. In fact I was holding my breath! That didn't work, instead of  melting into the saddle and stopping his flow I was bouncing around on top of it wondering why it was taking so much rein to get him to come down. Silly human! Coriander was probably wondering what the heck was wrong with me.

With that in mind, yesterday I worked on walk/trot transitions. Mainly so I would remember to use the cue I trained him to respond to. After a couple transitions he was giving me a lovely balanced trot and was coming down to the walk very softly with very little rein pressure.  I also added in a canter cue: I thought canter, scooped my hips forward and he stepped right up. I'll have to add the leg cue later before I start looking for leads but I'm super psyched that the seat aid worked so well. Amazing what happens when you ride the way you should!

After I put him back in the pasture Gwen got to wear the saddle around for a while. I even got up on my stepladder/mounting block so I could slap the top of the saddle and wiggle it around a bit. Interestingly she didn't step away from me on that, all her anxiety about standing next to the mounting block must have all been directed to the two-step green block at the old barn (I'm still ticked at that thing for tipping on me and freaking her out). Good to know.

I'm trying to brainstorm different things I can put in the saddle to get her better prepared for having me sit up there. So far I've thought about putting bags of cat litter on her back or tying balloons to the horn of the western saddle. Any suggestions?

I'm still not sure what caused her to shoot away from me when I broke my ankle. I had sat on her bareback twice before and stood with all my weight in one of the stirrups more than once without her being upset. All I can think of is surprise at me swinging over or pain when my weight hit the saddle.  I haven't put that saddle back on her since the accident and I think I need to. I'll try to get a video of how it sits on her so I can post it here for opinions.


  1. Good work! It's amazing how it mostly turns out to be about us.

  2. I actually owe you thanks, Kate. Your Mark Rashid posts made me really concentrate on thinking about what I want before I ask for it. It worked like a charm.

  3. Glad that worked out for you - it usually does for me, too.

  4. Good for you! Hey, sounds like your ankle is holding up nicely! It never ceases to amaze me how physically sensitive horses are. Re putting something on Gwen, I would stay away from the balloons, but I really like the idea of kitty litter, swinging it over her to get her used to the feeling.

    OT, I finally got to try the vanilla spray on Gem over the last few times I rode him. I think it actually made a difference, particularly around his face. It certainly wasn't any worse then if I used fly spray. I think I will continue using it.

  5. That ankle is still not great. I wore tall boots for my lesson on Monday and almost couldn't get them off!

    Thanks for the update on the vanilla. I'll give it a try. Did he appreciate the smell?

  6. Suggestion for next ride.... weight's good, dummy's good; neighborhood teenager: better.

  7. Natalie- LMAO! I'll see if I can scrounge one up.

  8. I sometimes have the same problem with breathing, but when I remember to relax, it all comes together. Most of the time it's us not them when things go wrong. Glad you had a good ride.

    I don't think I'd go with the balloons but a sack of something would be good for weight. I don't know exactly where I heard of this or read it but they actually sell weights to put on saddles for the purpose of getting a horse used to weight. I remember thinking they were really expensive but figured I could rig something up and never did it of course. Anyway, I'm luckier than most, I use my daughter as the crash test dummy on occasions where I think I could be injured.