March 8, 2012

Consistency, Finally!

On the way to the barn tonight, I questioned whether the gas money, the time, and the effort were worth it, and I wondered if I was crazy to spend this much money on a hobby when we've got so many student loans.

On the way home from the barn tonight, I had tears of joy in my eyes, because yes, it is all worth it in the end.

We finally put it all together.  But let me start with Saturday and Sunday.  I rode both days, and had these thoughts in my head the whole time:
- More outside rein half-halts
- Ride the shoulders
- Bring the shoulders around on the circle
- Outside rein tells him where not to go

I realized that I had been pulling his nose to the inside when I played with the bit, and didn't have the outside rein there to keep him together while doing it, which made his shoulder pop.  The Chronicle thread I mentioned helped me immensely, and by the end, I was bringing his shoulders around so thoroughly, I could have progressed that into a turn on the haunches if I wanted.

Those two rides made all the difference in my lesson, and finally I had him through and connected for the entire lesson, even from the warmup.  It wasn't 100% consistent, and there was a lot of "Here?" "Yes." "Okay." "No, there." "Okay" between the two of us, but he knows where I want him to be.  As my trainer said, I'm telling him exactly how much of him I will "carry" and I'm refusing to carry an ounce more, and he's responding so well to that!  She coached us the entire lesson, but it was a lot of little things instead of a lot of major things.  A lot of it was impulsion - he gets flat, I ask him for more impulsion, but then (and here is where I've had a major mental breakthrough) I'm catching that energy between my hips and my hands, and putting him into a smaller space.

He was light, he was forward, he was pushing from the hindquarters even from my warmup, and that left shoulder was greatly improved, even to the point that I had him a bit counterbent at times and had to correct it.  He was swinging more than I've ever felt him, but better than all of that was the fact that it was consistent.  It wasn't a fluke, or a momentary glimpse, it was the real deal, actual progress, I-have-taught-this-horse-something-and-he-retained-it.

It was so good, I didn't even mind when we did some canter transitions for the first time since the Nancy clinic a month ago and they were absolutely terrible.  The walk and trot were once totally awful too, and we got there.  But now, we'll get there with less of a struggle because we've laid the lines of communication already.

The other thing I'd like to note is that he's getting more desensitized to things, and even when he loses focus for something like a girl coming through the arena door, or a horse whinnying, or he spooks at something, he comes back very quickly and immediately lowers his head, raises his neck and back and goes back to work.  That's a huge difference from the beginning, when he'd lose focus and just be completely done.

Sorry for the walls of text lately, photos coming this weekend!


  1. Yay for you. That is so great.

  2. I had a break thru in my lesson this week on controlling the outside shoulder - and now I has someone not told me this sooner?

    I don't mind your wall of text - I always take something away from your blogs.

  3. Thanks, Nicole!

    Kelly, it seems like we are at a pretty similar place as far as that is concerned. I've always heard outside rein/inside leg, but never really put it together til now; amazing how much of a difference it makes, isn't it?