Monday, October 01, 2012

Sometimes 10 Minutes Is Enough

Wherein We Think to Refine the Aids

I rode late today as the day was a bit warm.  And, I had to go to the old school where I taught to make an appointment to take my truck in for service. Something is going radically wrong with the battery as it does not keep a charge. The other day I had to jump start it at home. I let it run for quite a while before driving to the feed store only to have a dead battery when I came back out to drive home. I managed to get a jump start there using the tack store van and got back home. I've left the battery charger on the battery for the time being, but hope I don't have to use the truck in the meantime until I find out what's wrong. If it does need a battery, getting it done at school is my lowest cost option as there is no service charge. And the shop teacher is excellent with his students.

After that little jaunt, I headed over to the shopping mall next to the school. I haven't been there much lately so it was a fun window shopping trip.  I tried on some shoes--the ones I liked were not in my size--and got a couple new knit tops at Macy's.  I started off in JC Penney but honestly, the new layout of the store and all its new merchandising techniques including the selection is not as good as the old store.  There really wasn't anything too interesting to look at so I hiked all the way to the other end of the Mall to find the tops I like.

Home again after a quick grocery run to get some milk bread, and a nice selection of on sale canned goods for my Church's food pantry, I ate some lunch and then needed a nap. Ah, retirement is so hard. *LOL*

Fed the Boys and then poo picked the riding arena.

By then the Boys's dinners were digested and it had cooled off.  When my little herd came sauntering in from the pasture to see what I was doing, I haltered Tucker, saddled him up and rode for a bit.

Hence the 10 minutes. I'm not sure if it was 10 or 15 minutes, but that was all we needed.  Tuck was nearly letter perfect. The only flaw was as much mine as his. I start him off on a relatively loose rein and gather up some contact to get him a little rounder as we go along.  That was fine, but then, after some trotting, I brought him back down to a walk,  collected the rein a little more and asked for a trot transition. Once again, he balked.

Now, who's at fault. Look to thyself, rider.  Collecting the rein at the halt is one of the first aids to a reinback. Then in attempting to get the trot transition, I put my leg back for a stronger aid and used my heel.  That tends to tip my pelvis a tiny bit forward which is another part of the reinback aid. But when I didn't actually follow through with a reinback request, Tuck just kind of stood there.  Obviously, I need to refine the aid for trot from halt or walk.  That means my seat "thinking trot" and my leg at the girth. Duh!

This is not normally a problem on horses I've trained, but Tucker is rather unique. He overreacts in negative, backward ways instead of thinking forward. So I need to really do the forward thinking for him.

Enter, the voice command. All of my horses usually have some pretty extensive ground training and definitely know the meaning of, "walk," "trot," "canter," "whoa," "over," and a "purr" for slow down and, at least with Tucker, a "hiss" to canter.  So, the solution is to use the aid I need to use to get the trot and add a voice command to help him understand.

Aces. That worked. Then we went on to some canter departs. Here's the ten minute warning! Perfect! Every single depart from the first to the last--and I did three or four on each rein--was responsive, lovely and soft. I praised him mightily, dismounted and took him into the barn for his carrot.

With daylight fading, I saddled up Chance for a short session. Today was a repeat of yesterday's lessons about changing the bend.  Once again, "Rider, look to thyself."  It wasn't that I was actually doing anything wrong at the change of bend, but since I was posting the trot I quickly realized my change of posting diagonal could be a valuable added aid.

So, I began trotting figure eights as I did yesterday, but today, I changed my posting diagonal a stride before I asked for the change of bend. "Light bulb moment!"  Although things were not perfect, Chance was much more able to shift his own balance to the new direction and change the bend. We'll gradually develop this suppleness and I will ride it at a sitting trot as well, but for now, I'll use my posting to help him along.

We finished up with a pretend Training Level test and, aside from his still somewhat unsteady acceptance of the bit, he was obedient and forward the whole test.

Once again, a short ride was all we needed to accomplish a lot. No point in riding to exhaustion when the results come that quickly.

Carrots all around back in the barn.  It was another good evening.


  1. Anonymous7:40 PM

    Very nice - we'll all take good evenings like that!

  2. I hope your truck doesn't need a battery but if it does I guess it's best to get it now before the winter.

    Great ride. Sometimes all you need is a few minutes to get the point across and end on a good note.

  3. The voice is an under-used aid. My first teacher always had us talking to the horses. You just have to remember to shut up in the dressage arena, in front of judges:)

  4. truck could be alternator? well they'll sort it for you anyway....

    good thought on changing rise a stride earlier, we are all taught to change the rise as you change the bend but this does make sense...

  5. weird - i distinctly remember commenting on this yesterday - would never have thought of changing the rise a stride before asking for change of bend, we're always taught to change the rise with the change of bend, but really this makes sense!