Monday, April 18, 2011

OK, At Last

So Far, So Good

My back is virtually pain-free today for the first time in weeks!! Yippee.

I still am taking it easy.

This morning, I dragged the riding arena for my lesson and then gave the lesson.  My student rode her horse and her sister's horse for a half-lesson each.  Neither horse is really fit after the long winter, so I tried to take it easy.

That's kind of hard, as the essentials of dressage do not come without work on horse and rider's part. I was really happy to see the first horse start to stretch round into the bit very quickly. He's not entirely steady yet, but I can tell all the work his rider did last season has paid off in a big way.  He's a good solid quarterhorse with a simply lovely attitude and work ethic.

The second horse is a solid color paint...much like Chance colorwise but not at all like him bodywise. This guy is kind of lanky and gives the impression of some good athletic potential. He too seems to have a good disposition but not such a good work ethic.  I suspect, however, that if he can learn to round his back he will be much happier under saddle.  Right now he tends to go "upside down."  My rider said, "He doesn't have a frame."

I kind of laughed at that.  We did some basic "give to the bit" exercises just to let him know that dropping his head to the rein pressure was OK. Then we started some more demanding work--just asking him to soften at the trot.

The first problem was that he wouldn't trot forward. So, with his head up a bit, his balance was all over the place and he'd not only fall apart, he'd also fall in or out off the track.  We decided then that the number one priority was a forward trot and then, and only then could we expect him to soften to the rein.

Sure enough, although it was not an easy task, he began to offer a few strides of basic on the bit as the lesson progressed. He looks to be a frustrating ride at the moment as far as that's concerned, but I reminded his rider that he was really just a baby about all of this and simply didn't understand.

When he did offer some good strides he really looked lovely. My student's mother was quite delighted when she was able to see the difference.

The only flaw in the whole plan is that my student's sister rides western and will want that soft little not so forward jog for now. Until he learns to use his back, it will be a balancing act between asking for the forward we need to get him to go on the bit, and developing his ability to collect properly for the western.

He is not the kind of horse that's going to master both at the same time and really needs that energy to learn to carry himself. Until he learns how to connect his hind end to the bit and use his body in one piece, it will be a little tricky. But there's plenty of potential there so I am hopeful it won't take too long.

Both horses are really sweet and "kid friendly."  It's nice to see young riders with suitable mounts.


  1. Anonymous6:38 PM

    Forward first. Sounds like the second horse will get it with time and consistent riding, just like Pie did yesterday - suddenly it'll click and he'll feel much better about things.

  2. Both horses sound like good solid horses for young riders. I'm always happy to see that a young rider isn't over-horsed. I'm sure with more lessons number two horse will become much better quickly. It's nice to have lessons with someone who knows what they're doing and I'm sure they appreciate your expertise.

    So happy to hear that your back is feeling much better. Maybe you'll be able to get a ride in soon too.

  3. Yay for a pain free back and getting to share your expertise with others. Working with horses is always rewarding :)

  4. Glad to hear your back is better. Back pain can sure mess us so many things.

    I think it's great both kids are on suitable mounts. Wish there was a whole lot more of that instead of the other way around.

    I just don't understand people wanting to do western with a horse that hasn't truly learned how to use its back yet. Seems like the dressage work would really benefit that horse.

  5. Well done you! This kid is so lucky to have you as a trainer. I am green with envy!!!

    You describe spot on the problem I have with Teena, I f I get forward, she is ALL over teh place, her head up and zig and zagging losing her balance. If I slow down the trot for her to be balanced, I have that western jog, that I cannot even rise to, because it is so slow, then she rounds herslef, kind of.
    I am finding a "medium" trot faster than her jog, but not too fast that she looses her balance.
    It is really a balancing act ^-^

  6. forward indeed.

    surely even for western collection they need forward/round first before the horse can collect? but then, i know nothing about western....

  7. Claire, if you look at a Reining pattern, it is all done at the canter. QH are not made for trotting except some lines for cutting where the work is done mainly at the trot.
    Reiners use the trot to supple, but never in extension, the rest of the work is done at the canter.
    A ranch horse will follow teh herd at the walk, especially for long distance, then the horse should be able to jump into canter/gallop to bring back a stray cow.
    But really QH are made to walk and canter.
    Obviously there is now some lines more "sport" in teh uS you find anything under QH labels. But here in Italy, the QH are mainly bred for reining or cutting. They are purposely bred anyway.