Sunday, October 31, 2010

Short and Sweet

Two Rides Right To The Point

After cleaning the stalls, the arena, and the run in shed, I was a bit knee tired, but I still saddled up to ride.

The plan was to focus on one basic issue with each horse and be done with it as soon as I accomplished something positive.

Chance was slightly more complex. My main goal with him was developing a depart into each gait with his head down, giving to the bit.  It's not that difficult for me to "make" it happen, but I was intent on getting it to happen without a lot of effort on my part, so that meant sorting out why it was an issue.

Chance tends to push me onto my right seatbone.  Instead of stepping through to the right rein with his inside left hind, he falls in a little on both his left shoulder and haunches and if I do allow my seat to fall to the right, that pushes him to the left even more.  So the first correction had to come from me--positioning my seat in the center, stretching down with my left leg and thigh to keep my seat very very slightly left so I could use my full leg to encourage him to bend left around it.  I also used the whip a little at his left shoulder to remind him not to drop it to the inside.  If he still fell in on that side, a rein correction--kind of lifting him over to the right--was a last resort, but that's the "make" it happen instead of getting it to happen.

Now, it was relatively easy to get him "shaped" correctly in each gait, but the problem always was exaggerated on a transition, particularly the downward transition from canter to trot.  (The upward transitions are a lot easier to fix.)  So, in the end the goal was to get one good downward transition from left lead canter to trot where he did not fall in, and he did not raise his head as he lost his balance.  It took about five tries, but he got it, so we stopped.

Tucker's ride goal started out to be lateral work, developing both the leg yield and half pass.  Well that was a cinch, as he did good work in both directions and the walk and then repeated the same exercises at the trot.  Since that took no time at all, I moved on to some trot/hesitate/trot/walk/trot etc. transitions.  Once again, all went nicely and to my surprise, at least once, he was on the verge of offering a few steps of piaffe/passage.

Knowing that he wasn't fit enough for too much of that kind of collected work, I moved into doing some canter departs from the collected moments of trot. At first, it seemed as if it was going to get ugly as he started to fuss, but I'm pretty sure he was more confused than anything, so I used my "Hisssssss" command for canter and off we went. From then on the canter departs were really nice.   Again, he is not fit enough to do that for too long either so, I moved on to just a few trot/halt transitions.  On the third one, I asked for a few steps of reinback--lovely again--and ended with a square halt at X.

Each ride was perhaps only twenty minutes at most--perhaps less--but I was more than satisfied. I'll give each Boy a day to think about his lessons by either lungeing or trail riding for a day--weekends mean mini-bikes and ATV's though--and see what the next schooling session brings.

It will be interesting to see if the lessons were learned.

By the way, the Halloween stories went really well.

Happy Halloween to All!! 


  1. Good news for the Halloween Stories :-)

    I like your lessons. You ought to film yourslef. I would love to see you in action!

  2. Great short work sessions are the best! Here's a question - how much is the quality of the downwards transition related to the quality of the starting gait (say canter in canter/trot), as opposed to what happens during the transition itself? I know for me, on upwards transitions the starting gait quality is essential, and I tend to think about upwards and downwards transitions as the same thing really. Thoughts?

    I also liked your analysis of the seat/positioning issues - very nice stuff.

  3. Kate, the quality of the gait is an essential, but the trick is the balance as the gait changes. The lateral, asymmetrical balance of the canter is different than the symmetrical balance of the trot, so a good canter does not necessarily guarantee a good downward, although it helps tremendously.

    That's where the half halt comes in, to help the horse adjust his balance for the new gait. In Chance's case, my half halt had to be a bit more lateral to get him to balance off the leading shoulder so he did not fall in, lose his balance and raise his head to establish the new gait.

  4. Very timely, I'm working on this myself, as you know!

    I have the opposite problem, I get thrown to the left and have better downward transitions than upward transitions. Same fix, though: proper preparation! If I take the time to fix my position and half halt, the transitions are much better. It sounds so simple, *sigh*.

  5. Love the description of your lessons, so informative and helpful. Thanks, I'd definitely say my down transitions need work.

    Happy Halloween, glad the stories were a hit. I knew they would be.

  6. Phew, those sound like mentally-intense sessions for both horse and rider, even though they were short. Great descriptions as ever, and well done on the spooky stories!