March 1, 2012

Thursday Lesson Wrap-Up: Freakouts

The green horse journey is fascinating.  Every day, I'm challenged to feel things I've never felt before, to think of things in ways I've never had to think of them before, to view my communication with equines in ways I never have in my life.  Bringing up a green horse requires mental fortitude I never knew I had, and forces me to become a better rider, because if I don't push myself, I can't push him.

Today, it was clear that I wasn't getting anywhere with him in the beginning.  To the right, especially, he's started being very heavy in my outside hand, popping his left shoulder out on circles and turning his nose to the inside, which achieves complete evasion of what I'm asking him to do, which is travel with proper bend on the circle.  After ten minutes of knocking on his brain and yelling, "HEY!  ARE YOU IN THERE?", after which my left bicep was hurting like crazy, my trainregot on.

It took her a good fifteen minutes of working his body, talking to him, making him do things he did not think he was capable of, but finally she got him 'there' and said, "He's always going to have these little freakouts.  We'll get him comfortable with something, then he'll freak out about something else.  His freakout level is low."  The most noticable thing I saw tonight was a relaxation through the throatlatch when he was done freaking out.  His whole body and topline relaxed as he worked into that elastic, impulsive trot I love so much.  Now how do I get that from the beginning instead of halfway through each lesson?

Part of it is my own body positioning, so here are my things to think about for my homework rides this week:

- Watch that I'm not stiff through one leg or the other, especially watch the inside leg through turns because when I'm stiff he feels blocked to that side, like he can't turn that way, and he gets nervous that we won't make the turn.
- Ask from the elbow for softness and communication, not the hand.  This has a massive effect on his relaxation through the neck and throatlatch.  It's almost stupid how big of an effect this has, honestly.
- Keep my seatbones walking with him at all times at the walk.
- Post from the knee up only - think about the "toaster" reference with my hips, and post into the space created by my hands
- Speaking of my hands, for training purposes only, they will be held much wider than normal for a while, so that I can think of the connection between my hands and the bit as a loop instead of something with points.

I will get three practice rides in this week, I WILL!


  1. I know what you mean. Rosemary is the youngest, greenest horse I have ever ridden. It is always a challenge to communicate to her what I want. On the other hand it is a really great feeling when she "gets" the idea. I keep those good feelings on the days she is an opinionated pain.

  2. You might want to get him adjusted. They change so much between now and then especially during really heavy points of development.

  3. I appreciate how you break down what you will be working on and how to accomplish each goal. Helps me to visualize and use in my riding.