December 7, 2012

Haunches-In, Sweat and Stuff

Standing in the pasture, in the pitch dark, in the rain, ten minutes after my lesson was supposed to have started, watching Connor trot away from me, I started to lose it.  "You're supposed to be the thing that helps me to forget about all of my problems for a few hours a week!" I yelled at him.  He hadn't been hard to catch in six months, but tonight his new, young 17.3hh-ish pasture buddy decided to lunge at him after I had already gotten the lead rope around Connor's neck and was in the process of putting his halter on. The two of them decided it was playtime and gleefully ran around me in the pasture.  I finally caught him 30 minutes later, with my trainer's help, tacked up in record time, and headed out to the arena for a short lesson.

She wanted to introduce haunches-in, and did, and it went okay as we practiced switching back and forth between shoulder-in and haunches-in.  I'd never done haunches-in before, so it's going to take a lot more time and feel for me to understand what's going on and how to do it.  He kept trying to canter when I moved my leg back, so we need to work on refining that aid.  I'm still a little murky on it myself, so if anyone has any tips, I'm all ears.

He was quite heavy and in my hands all lesson, so toward the middle she asked me to "surprise him" with my leg aids while catching him with my rein aids anytime he dove behind the vertical.  I was still sort of mad at him, so that exercise was actually quite fun and probably more effective that it would have been otherwise.  I wish I had video of the level of engagement and alertness he had during those walk-halt transitions.  Head goes down, aids applied, head flies up, pony understands.

After all the running around (in mild weather with a blanket) and then 30 minutes of mostly walking, he was so sweaty that he still wasn't ready for a blanket at 9:15pm - over an hour after I got off.  Add in my 45 minute drive time, and I had to leave him and ask my instructor to blanket him after she finished teaching so I could go home, eat dinner and collapse into bed.  Anyone else in Indiana considering taking more hair off of their horses if the weather doesn't turn soon?  I'm at the point where it's holding up our training.

What do you do when you're waiting on the sweaty thing to dry?  Take many, many pictures.
Step 1: Rub, rub, rub, rub.
Step 2: Replace cooler and wait...
Step 3: Remove cooler for a few minutes, have a seat and watch pony ears flick back and forth as he air-dries

Step 4: Go up the stairs to the bathroom, calling pony's name as you go.


  1. Love the waiting on the pony to dry pics :) I had Riva clipped mid-Oct...and she needs it again. Can not believe the weird temps, but not going to complain!

    I haven't done haunches in - will be watching comments from others to store up info.

  2. Jen, he did take your mind off your problems. I bet you were not thinking about anything but what a pain he was at the time ;)

    We are back to cold in VA, but I do need to take some more hair off my guys. Rosemary grew in pretty fast and after riding we figured we need more around the girth.
    I was impressed with Comrade though, he does not get blanketed so no clip, but he did not sweat up even with all the trot work I did in the warm weather.

  3. Love the pictures of waiting for your pony to dry. I've done haunches-in once on the horse I ride Gatsby, and he got so wound up that we had to do some cantering to calm him the hell down.

    I've got to refine my leg aids and will be doing some tomorrow during my lesson so maybe I will have a few more tips to help you :)

  4. Haunches-in is hard. It took me a bit to wrap my head around it, but it is a good way to do walk-canter because you're already in position as long as you can get that hot response. I want to say canter should be a brush with your outside leg behind the girth, whereas HI is a press, but I don't know. I need to practice it more myself!