Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stacie and the Mare

Lesson With Patrice

Stacie called me last night to give me an update. She rode the Danish mare she tried--the one that would not go forward--in a lesson with Patrice Edwards. Apparently, it was very illuminating.

For the first, Patrice really likes the horse and feels Stacie could learn a lot from her. In particular, not to grip and drive with her legs but to ride more correctly from her seat. (Note to Caroline--apparently she is a Zipster horse--no leg!) When Stacie uses her leg forcefully, the horse quits and simply shuts down. Patrice is big on how a correct seat and correct use of the rider's body will make the horse cooperate. Stacie had a hard time getting the mare to work for her in the lesson and she said she could not get a canter.

This is all interesting to me because I really just use my legs for cues and not particularly to keep my horses going. Tucker, like the mare and Zip, does not react well to the leg, so it's something I need to keep in mind as well. When I used to ride hunters, the concept was, "give the leg aid at whatever pressure you want for the desired reaction, and if the horse does not go as you want, tap with the whip. Don't keep increasing the leg pressure and don't ask again." Russell R. was very light to the leg, as is Toby. Tucker needs to learn to be a bit quicker off the aids, but I intend to work on that.

After Stacie had ridden for a while, Patrice got on the mare. She has a debilitating back injury that really limits the strength in her legs, so she didn't really use them much. According to Stacie the mare went absolutely beautifully for her! Stacie is really considering making an offer on the horse, but hasn't quite decided. She is pretty sure she will have the patience she will need to learn to ride her effectively and thinks she is ready to hold off showing for the season until she does.

She also had a lesson on another horse--a Fresian as it turned out. Again she had trouble as too much leg made the horse respond in unexpected ways. (At least unexpected to her.) When she used her outside leg on the circle, for example, the horse overreacted and threw his hindquarters to the inside instead of tracking true.

Again interesting to me as Stacie had trouble with Toby in that he "wiggled" all over for her. Now I am pretty sure much of that was her using her leg too much. While he does tend to be crooked at times--something I always had to work on, and probably aggravated by my own crookedness--he was really "squiggly" for her and she had a terrible time keeping him on (I think) the left lead. That always puzzled me as holding a correct lead and even counter cantering was never an issue with him. Now, I suspect the "too much leg" might well have come into play.

Years ago, when I used Russell R. for an occasional lesson, a young, but good rider was on him and we asked for canter. Russell took off with her in a hand gallop and it took my "talking her down" to get him to slow down. What she had done was simply grip with her thighs to hold on at the canter. She did not know how to correctly sit the gait and gripped instead. To Russell, that meant "Go, GO, GO!!!"

All quite interesting. And it might also explain why nearly every time a trainer gets on one of my horses, there is rarely, if ever, a problem with my horses' understanding their aids and performing well. Makes me feel pretty good about my own training and maybe even riding skills sometimes.

Now if I could only get it really right!! *G* I guess, considering Tucker's attitude, I am going to have to learn. *lol*

Nearly forgot to mention the weather!! There is a snow/ice/sleet/rain storm headed our way that should be starting about when I leave school. My kitty, DJ, is at the vet's having his teeth cleaned, so I'll need to pick him up this evening too. Not looking forward to any driving in the muck--although the vet's is about 5 minutes from home. Again, it's too cold to ride and I figure the snow stuff is only going to make it worse. I just hope we are not buried under a layer of ice. Yuck.


  1. Ah we had that storm last week-end sleet-snow-sleet-rain ..muc everywhere. Still raining ^-^

    If Stacie WANT to grow as a rider, that mare sends ideal a real school-master .

    Well done for your tyraining. I liek the way that you knwo what you want and that you do not get angry, just being very patient, understanding but also determined. You are a real teacher in the heart.

    I wish I were more like you ^-^ But I get emotional.

  2. Nice to find another horseperson on Blogger. How do I follow your blog? I couldn't find a link. I'm in upstate NY (where it's really cold and snowy right now), living on a small horse farm with my 2 mares.

  3. How interesting! I learned a lot from this post! It's hard to explain but I have had the experience of really focusing on the horse, thinking he needs to do this or that. Then I have experiences of focusing on my position. Now that I read this I realize that Tetley goes so much better when I focus on me mostly. ML

  4. Hi Jean-
    Thanks for the comment on my blog (Noble Ridge). I'd love to give you my background on my experiences with Sailor and her issues. I don't think they're insurmountable (because she was a perfect trail horse when I got her back from training 2 years ago) but I don't know if I have it in me to perservere. It's awful to get older and have your confidence shaken - and it makes me mad that I am feeling this way.

  5. sounds like that mare might be just the job for stacie - and stacie for her.

    Linda, there's loads of horse people out here.....