February 14, 2014

Unmounted Team Practice

My life is seriously turning into a long-running episode of The Saddle Club, how did this happen?!

Last night my trainer had us all over to her house for an evening of unmounted practice.  And snacks, oh the snacks.
Dogs spooning.  I have no
other pictures today!

We watched the first part of the Dr. Deb Bennett lecture from the GM Horsemastership Series in Florida in December of 2013.  It's about straightness, and why the horse can get so crooked anatomically, and why that matters so much, and why straightness the only way a horse will ever come round.  It's incredible, everyone who ever sits on a horse should watch it.  It basically explained to me why Connor's training has come so far in the past two months, ever since the "Every time you think about pulling back on the reins, counterbend him for a couple of strides," lesson from December.  He's straight now!

"Some of this may not make sense to some of you right now, but I want you to start thinking about it, and we're going to talk later about how what she's talking about relates to the horses you're riding."

That was not an empty threat - she actually had taken photos of the barn's various horses that week and put those up on the TV with ground lines so we could see which horses naturally leaned on what shoulder.  We talked about why horses can lean so much more than humans through their bodies, and about how it feels when Louie leans on his right shoulder with his nose bent to the left, for example.  We also got on our hands and knees and leaned to one side and the other while trying to stay "round", and to understand why leaning makes collection impossible.

We went through the basic lateral movements on our own two feet in her kitchen.  Leg yield, turn on the forehand, and turn on the haunches were all performed with lots of giggling, and we all learned we didn't have as good of an idea of where our horses legs were in the movements as we thought we did - "Ah!  Your inside hind is crossing in front of the outside hind here, not the other way around!"  and "See, you can do leg yield without bending your knees, but you can't do shoulder in with straight legs," really helped us understand things in a way it's hard to while you're mounted.

It was an incredibly valuable lesson and a great way to be productive when the weather is still uncooperative.  You all should watch at least the first part of the video, she's amazing!

Link to Part 1 of Dr. Deb Bennett's Lecture from the George Morris Horsemastership Sessions


  1. This sounds like a perfect night to me! Oh, if only I had a saddle club in Denver! :) Definitely will be checking out the lecture.

    1. They are great, there are three parts. She sometimes goes off on tangents but I think that's the best part!

  2. Your trainer sounds seriously amazing. How far away are you again? Maybe I can commute, lol.

    1. We are just under two hours from Dayton on the southeast side of Indy. Shoot me an email jenifer dot slabaugh at gmail dot com if you are ever interested in coming down!

  3. Replies
    1. It was, at least it was a good way to pass what was hopefully one of the last cold weeks of the year. 60 on Thursday!!

  4. Sounds like you have an awesome trainer! I'll have to check that part of the GM clinic out, I missed that part.

  5. I love pretending to be a horse and practicing the movements. I agree that it is super beneficial and great for a rider party.

    Your trainer sounds like a blast!