Tuesday, May 31, 2011


That was me: Missing In Action. I took last week off from work and sort of avoided the computer for the duration. As a result I'm way behind on keeping up with my fellow bloggers. My apologies, I'll catch up this week.

As for what happened last week: Monday I had my first ride on Scout since my last lesson on him went bad. I apologized to him for how badly that last ride went and promised that it wouldn't happen again. Fortunately he seemed to accept my apology and the lesson went really well. He did try to spook at random things and counterbend all over the place in the beginning, but I asked him to do some jaw flexions and he soon forgot all about his usual shenanigans. It really worked!

On Wednesday I climbed up on Gwen again. She was fine, if a little on edge. We walked down the driveway, she ate a bit of grass, and then we turned around and walked back to the barn. I asked her if she wanted to stop and graze on the way up but she didn't. She got up to the barn and said, "okay, you can get off now." So I did, and gave her a hug for her effort.

On Thursday, Kate G. came out and worked with Coriander and me. I asked her to help me with jaw flexions and teaching him the pose. When I told her what I wanted the pose for, getting him to lift his back and engage his abs, she told me a different tactic would work better. Instead we did some microshaping with him- we focused on watching for a tightening of the pectoral muscles without having the legs move. Most of the time this leads to the horse rocking their weight back, by focusing on the pectorals first you can eventually get the horse to engage the abs and lift the back.

So we stared at his chest for a while, which worked and he seemed to enjoy it, but she wanted to give me a different method to get him to raise his back. She asked him to back into a solid barrier, the wooden section of the fence, and once he was against it she asked him to back again. Since he couldn't go backwards anymore he was forced to tip his pelvis and raise his back. She cautioned me to ask for very little at this point, he's not used to it and could get very sore very quickly.

I think this is really cool, I now have two good methods to help get his back and abs stronger. For those of you reading who don't clicker train, you don't need food treats to do the second method, but it helps ;-)

I really need to get some video to show the jaw flexions, they're kind of hard to describe without seeing it. There's a good article here where you can read more about it, though you might need a membership to see it. Let me know if you really want it and can't click through the link.

The dentist never made her visit Thursday. Between schedule conflicts on her part and me freaking out about getting Gwen next door during the forecasted severe thunderstorm we decided to reschedule for August. Now I've got a few more months to get her used to being next door and I have more time to play with her and the bit.

Phew! I think I'm all caught up now. For anyone who might be wondering about the mysterious hip-shoulder-shoulder exercise I've alluded to before, this came in my email this morning: John Lyons hip-shoulder-shoulder exercise part 1, part 2, and part 3.


  1. I do an exercise with Val that his massage therapist taught me, where I scratch / massage with fingertips spread on either side of his tail head - a few inches forward of it - and he engages his core. If he tries to evade side to side I stop him and repeat until he stays put. He will tuck those abs right up when I do it correctly. :)

  2. I've tried that one with Coriander but I can't seem to find the right spot. I've also tried the belly lifts where you run your hands down the centerline of their belly and lift with your fingertips- he doesn't respond to that one either. He's either particularly insensitive or I'm doing it really wrong.

  3. There are tail stretches, too, which I think work really well for both back and abs, so well, in fact, I wish I had a tail. Simply, standing behind the (non-kicky) horse, you grasp the tailbone about midway down and gently, but steadily, pull it toward you for a few seconds. Watch what happens. The horse will lift her back and, after practice, even begin to lean into the stretches. Repeat this several times, giving the horse a few seconds to rest between stretches. I've found that once they've learned tail stretches, the belly lift comes easier for them.

  4. I was wondering where you were!! :-) Nice that you now have two methods for engaging Coriander's core. I would be very interested in seeing a video on jaw flexion. I did find this article that you may find interesting: http://happybottom.net/blog/?p=366

  5. Thanks Muddy K, I'll give that a try. I've done a little bit with tail stretches but not enough for them to learn to enjoy it. That will be great if it helps him with belly lifts.

    Hee hee, Wolfie you just proved great minds think alike. That's the same article I linked to only in a different place ;) It's really good, isn't it? I really do want to get some video, I'll have to finagle my husband out this weekend.

  6. I made you a video the other day...I'll send it or post it...

    Um yea! That dude impressed me too..nice stirrups, saddle, beads all over, nice smile and so fashionable he made his steed!

    Yes..can't wait for ANSUR saddle. I'm $600 short..still trying to sell stuff like my Dressage saddle. At least I've got the rest in cash!

    I READ at Silents Arlene's that you did not like the"CLASSIC". I made her an offer...buy a"HAF"pad. If it slips, I'll but it from her. One saddle pad is not enough for me! But...someone else said it was her girth, whichI have a diff time thinking...those things are huge..where could it slip to?

  7. Oh! Your muscle memory stretches sound so great
    I'm going to try the back up to solid object one. We've been backing up hills lately, four steps, then on.
    Video, please!

  8. Oh, thank you! I like video :)

    I meant to post about the Classic but forgot. I'll get to that today.

    I got the husband to agree to help me with some video this weekend. I'll have to see how it goes.

  9. Those sound like interesting exercises to train the back up, hope they work out for you.

    Gwen sounds a lot like Dusty when she first started. She's come a long way but sometimes she does feel the need to stop and give me a look as if to say "you're done, get off". QH mares, you gotta love 'em.

  10. They don't mince their words do they? LOL