Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Three for Three

And Every Ride a New Adventure

OK, so I had to match Caroline. Truth be told, the weather forecast for the next week plus is not looking too good, so I really needed some saddle time.

Toby was closest to the barn so I headed out for him, but when he saw me coming he trotted off, making it quite clear he wanted no part of me. I didn't help that I'd already fed supper so his tummy was full. I'd gone to the inspection station to get my car reinspected with its new windshield wipers and gotten stuck there when the computer system went down for about a half hour. So when I got back home, I really felt I needed to feed The Boys.

Instead of chasing Toby, I collected Chance who was quite delighted to come to me. I rode him for about 20-25 minutes in the arena, working on bending and trying to get him to stretch to the bit. He wasn't quite as good about the stretching as he has been, likely because he's had so many days off, but the bending is so much better and is definitely staying better each time I ride.

I finished up practicing halts on the center line. It took me about five before I figured out that I must have been weighting my right seat bone too much so that he was continually stepping to the right at the halt. Once I rebalanced myself and put some more weight on my left seatbone that he finally stopped pretty straight.

Toby reluctantly let me catch him finally so I rewarded him with a nice back massage and a 20 minute hack in the woods. He was as happy as could be stopping at nearly every little tree to grab huge mouthfuls of leaves and then, at the edge of the field, taking a nice graze on the lush grass out there.

Tucker didn't come when I called, but he stayed put to be easily caught. I had decided to try him in the double bridle. He really played with the two bits for quite a while, trying to figure out what the extra metal was all about. He was a little sticky to go at first, but not too much more than usual when he is uncertain. I first worked him exclusively on the bradoon (Snaffle) trying to encourage him to take hold of the bit as he was too light to the contact at first. It didn't take too long for him to settle in to that. He wasn't as good as he is on his snaffle alone, but he did start to work. I then picked up the curb with very light contact to see how he would react.

I am not too sure about the results. Sometimes Tuck softened to the touch of the curb, sometimes he flipped his head to escape the contact. He wasn't happy, but he wasn't cranky about it either. I think he was trying to figure things out and a little reluctant to take a little hold of the curb bit. Understandable, actually as it is an entirely new feeling for him. Once he figures out that if he softens his jaw and flexes his poll the bit will feel fine, he should get a little bolder in it. I don't plan to work him in it much yet as he really does need to be more confirmed in the snaffle, but if it helps him understand how to soften as a habit, then it will be a valuable tool.

What is interesting to me is that with Russell, PJ, and Toby the transition to the double was smooth and easy. Right now I suspect getting Tucker to accept it is going to be a bit of a challenge.

But then again, Tucker has been a challenge every step of the way. Why should this be any different?

All in all an interesting evening at Follywoods.


  1. Philippe Karl makes "the horse play" with the double bridle on the ground. First : he would ask for yield of the jaw with the bradoon, and the horse will play with the curb bit too.
    Second : he asks yield of the jaw with the curb bit.
    It is all explained well with photos in his latest book.

    It might make it easier for Tucker to understand.

  2. You did it! :-)

    The double with Tucker is interesting. I've used one on two horses and neither of them had any problem adapting, right from the start. TUcker is determined not to give you an easy time with anything isn't he?