Z Week Six: Slow and Easy

Because of the weird weather we have been having, the experts predict an intense tornado season. Jolly. This week the worst blew threw in a strange, silent way with no rainfall, building it’s momentum before slamming Missouri and then Illinois. Yesterday, they announced fire danger so I think this will be what the next four months will hold. I think folks can look towards another drought year as rain is far below average. 😦

This has been a short week for Z as her first ride was today and she’ll have another tomorrow. Next week I”m aiming for three but then I go out of town for a long weekend.

I was a bit sharp with Rugby Guy today. I just want him to do it MY WAY and not explain how my way is not his way etc… For example, I like to gradually cinch/girth up a horse. Dear One came to me already girthy (her previous longterm owner used a tool to tighten her dressage girth and the result was a horse who would try to bite you every time you would girth up) and I really don’t want to deal with a horse like this again and there is NO REASON too! Just  loop it up some, walk her to the mounting block, talk for a minute and then tighten. ARGH!

Anyway, I took control of the session and after that small tiff (I think RG was actually surprised I was so sharp with him but I wasn’t going to back down) about saddling everything went very well, although I am sure Rugby Guy thinks I am crazy and coddling my horse.

When Z refused to move, it was important for her to learn to move when asked. Now that the forward motor is engaged we need to fine tune that speed to be what we want. We don’t want a horse who thinks finishing a math test in record time and not doublechecking answers is the right way to do things. Rushing and speed doesn’t mean relaxedness or getting it right.

To accomplish that we worked only on walk, trot and turns. If she rushed or got tense we went back to the walk. She gives him a nice big walk when relaxed and we talked about what he was feeling under him and when it felt right or wrong and what we were wanting to achieve. Because I don’t really think RG has had this kind of riding training but he picked it up quickly what I was talking  about.

We want to get that bigger stride at trot and this has been a problem because she likes to rush. We worked on slowing the trot down and if she really relaxed at trot, letting her go down to a walk. Eventually, we will stretch out the length of time we expect the relaxed trot to be maintained but for now walking was a good reward.

When you up the ante, a horse is likely to start to tense when a new request is given. For example, during the turns, Z started to rush and get tense again so at that point you let the horse “go large” (a bigger circle or all the arena), let them settle, and then ask again. The point being is to add in new stuff but to always return to relaxedness. Keep reminding the horse, yes this is what I want – this gets rewarded.

RG likes to slide back to neckreining and I don’t ride like that so I reminded him to use a direct rein. I also showed Rugby Guy how I wanted him to ask for the turn – use his hand out wider and slide it down the rein to get closer to the connection of rein/sidepull. By moving the hand outwards from the horses neck, it provides a baby-cue to turn. Z really can’t turn well yet by a hand signaling at the horn/pommel and needs this extra encouragement to bend (remember her stiff neck).

One of Z’s evasions is to go off the rail and start cutting the circle; RG wants to neck rein her back to the rail. I told him to ignore it as she is doing it as an evasion to avoid the trot work (doesn’t do it at walk) and she would give it up when she saw it didn’t work. It was nice to be proven correct because this was exactly what happened – she straightened herself out when this behavior was ignored and not rewarded.

The funniest thing happened – we were doing great and Rugby Guy gave a loud sneeze (the spring stuff is now flowering) and Z was OMG PANTHER SNEEZED****!!!! and jumped two feet sideways tossing her head. We all got a good laugh out of that but I wasn’t riding her hahaha.

BTW, at the end I rode her at a walk for a few circles YEEHAW!

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