February 19, 2012

Mane Pulling and a GREAT Lesson!

Today's lesson was awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwesome!  But first:

I finally gave in and started pulling, days after telling my trainer I was leaving it long.  I have enough of an uphill battle for credibility riding a 13.3hh pony in an adult eventing barn, and decided I didn't want to be "That Guy" anymore.  Plus, that mane is just looking shaggy, and it's typically a shade between "dirt brown" and "mud brown", and I'm sort of a lazy groomer so...yeah.  I'm happier with it pulled.  Or I will be, when I finish pulling it in approximately two weeks.  I'm a fast puller, and that 8 inch section took me 45 minutes!  Pulling thick manes is no joke.

In our lesson today, I finally saw some real progress.  She asked me to drive the energy from my seat forward up into the space between my hands - not the hands themselves, which is an important distinction - and to remember that it takes both the energy from the hind end and the "capturing" of the hand to create real contact.  For most of the lesson, I had him lightly and consistently in my hand and between my aids for minutes at a time instead of seconds, and it felt like everything we've been working on for the past few months came together and made sense for both of us.  Those lines of communication opened up and became crystal clear, where there was confusion before. 

Working on his lightness and contact is interesting because I've never developed that in a horse before, and so I wasn't noticing when he was heavy before.  Now, I'm very aware of when he's heavy, and what makes him heavy.  Today, I would refuse to do a movement if he was heavy, because I've come to recognize that dead feeling as a lack of communication between the two of us.  In those moments, Connor is saying, "Hey, this is hard, I don't wanna, do it for me?" and then putting on headphones and tuning me out.  Then I have to massage the inside rein, add inside leg and half halt with the outside rein to get him back.  Sometimes, that takes a little while, but today I felt like I finally had control over getting it back instead of just asking and hoping he understood me.

We finished with canter transitions, and I felt him get tired-heavy.  After our third transition (and they were really not bad) he got very heavy and I struggled to get him back.  That's just young horse/lack of muscling, though.  I know he needs more conditioning rides, and more rides in general, but I'm always going to be limited by the barn being so far away.

And did I mention this entire ride was outside???


  1. Thanks! I'm excited to see the final product. As Naomi says, he will look so much less like a pony and more like a little horse when I'm done!

  2. Yes! Love the progress of your ride and love how the mane is looking :-) He is going to look fancy when you are done!

  3. I was going for fancy over frumpy, so that makes me feel good!