Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Short and Sweet

And To the Point

The point being that I put on my spurs. When I first rode Tucker as a youngster, I wore spurs, so he is somewhat used to them. Then, when we figured out he had an ulcer, and he was super sensitive, particuarly on his right side, I took them off. Since he's been pretty good to the leg aids, though with that tendancy to go behind....which he did with spurs too...I hadn't ridden with them in quite some time.

I don't think I really used them during the whole session, as I didn't need too. Actually, I think, because of my leg position which requires me to turn my heel in to get the spur on his side, Tucker simply felt the spur strap and shank when I used my lower leg to cue him.

Not to say all was perfect. He did one complete stall, planting his feet and refusing to move in any direction, including a circle for those who might recommend that to get a horse moving. When he is like that using the spur or the whip will only result in a kick out or a huge rocket launch buck. This time, I dismounted quickly and taking a good hold on the rein, gave him a stern rap with the whip. He jumped forward. I lunged him around me on a small circle which really made him step under, then I remounted and he was wonderfully forward for the rest of the ride.

It occurs to me that if I fasten a lead to the bit and then tie the rope around his neck when I ride, I can repeat this "floor exercise" every time we get a plant. Eventually, I suspect that all I will have to do is make a move to dismount and off he will go. It is kind of the opposite goal the western ropers have with their horses which is that as soon as they make a move to dismount their horses are expected to stop dead in order to brace against the calf at the end of the rope. So, clearly, my training would ruin Tuck as a roping horse, but somehow I can't quite picture him going after a cow. Away, yes, but not after. *G*

My goodness, but he feels good when he pushes into my hand with energy. I need to get that feeling every time I ride. Maybe combining the groundwork and the riding in the same session will do the trick.

Leading to groundwork for Chance. As I am making slow progress getting him to give to the bit when I ride, I decided to put him in the long lines to insist that he stay round. I veed both reins this time, giving him no real escape but to give to the rein and drop his head.

He certainly does look good when he accepts and works into the contact. He does not look good when he blows up, tries to throw up his head and then makes a move to rear. Fortunately, he only did that twice--once seriously and the other time half-heartedly.

His first canter depart on the left was a head tossing affair, but when the rein said, "No," he gave me a series of perfectly lovely trot/canter/trot transitions. Once he was on the right rein, he'd figured it out, and all of his departs were spot on.

I am thinking I will long line him more than ride him for the next few weeks. With the lines I have more control than I do under saddle because of the extra leverage I can exert. This approach is only useful because of all the pressure Chance can and does exert to yank the rein from my hands when I am in the saddle. While I can hold on with my seat, my rein finger, especially on my right hand, is close to developing a blister--even through my gloves. If long lining is a good shortcut to what I want, I will use it as the better training tool.

I love watching my horses go on the lines. Chance looks particularly pretty when he goes on the bit. He uses his hind end really well in the trot and his canter has a nice smooth look to it.

I didn't work Chance too long as I felt demanding "round" the whole time was a physical effort for him.

I always prefer to stop before my horse is too tired or frustrated to learn anything more. I press them enough to build some muscle, but not enough to break down their minds.

As I said, short and sweet.


  1. Anonymous11:28 AM

    I like to watch the horse when I ground drive, too - it is fun to watch them move and I think I learn a lot by watching how they respond.

  2. What a productive and useful day. Chance and Tucker are lucky to have such an experienced owner. You are both knowledgeable and considerate.