Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tonight's Lesson

Had a lesson tonight with the stand-in instructor who's stepping in while Christina is essentially on maternity leave (due to foal any day now. ).

Carey actually was the one who put the first rides/training on Kieran for me after I got him so she's got an interesting perspective on him compared to everyone else.

Anyway, I'd mentioned he has a habit of drifting inward off the rail and it feeling like he doesn't really get what I mean when I try to bump him back over with my inside leg. So she had us (Christine was also riding her horse who has a similar issue) do lots of small circles around cones she had placed in each corner of the ring. Except, wait.

First we started out at a halt. She had me just let go of one rein, and then hold the other one back to my knee and ask for his head. Then we added in me asking him to move "forward" so that he'd follow his nose around and cross over with his hind end. We also talked about picking up his shoulder (which I'd read about but not really done) and making sure on those turns that I'm keeping my shoulders straight because if I drop my inside shoulder, so will he.

Then we went to do the circles around the cones at a walk. Same sort of thing, moving my inside hand low and back toward my knee, giving with the outside hand (but not throwing it away this time) and sort of pushing with my inside heel at the girth. Obviously, the hands and everything are very exaggerated because he's green and just learning about how to bend and bring his head down (we talked about if I hold my hands up, then his head will come up, etc) and eventually I wouldn't have to use my hands like this. Once we did that both ways at the walk, we started doing it at the trot (not quite so small circles, LOL). Carey also talked about how on the straightaway, to get his nose turned a bit inward without him drifting in, I could try holding my inside hand just over the center of his withers instead of moving my hand away from his body.

We talked about how a lot of people just get on and ride and that's fine (and pretty much a lot of what I've done with him) but to get really get past that green stage, you have to start thinking about riding the whole horse and doing things like this, little adjustments with your hands, really controlling where he's putting his shoulders, that sort of thing, is where you start getting beyond just getting on and riding. I've talked on this forum in the past about it being difficult for me to feel like I was getting him to understand what I wanted when I tried bumping him over with my leg but I started to really feel him listening tonight when I did it after doing the earlier exercises.

That was pretty much all we did in the lesson. Though we did talk the bit about keeping the nose slightly inward and keeping his shoulders from dropping would make the canter transition easier (and getting the proper lead too, though we haven't really had a problem with that so far).

After that, someone else had her lesson and was okay with me staying in the ring so I continued riding, trying to think about where I was putting my hands and so on. Carey had set up a low vertical for her to go over and we tried trotting over it several times but Jughead couldn't figure out how high to put up his feet so we mostly crashed through it and I backed off of doing that and just kept trotting around most of the time. I realized a lot of our rides lately we'd just been moseying along or, trotting with lots of walk breaks, or just not very long rides at all and so I wanted to work on both of our endurance, what with trail riding season coming up. I could tell he was starting to get tired by the end (I was in the saddle for about an a hour and a half total tonight, though obviously not all of that was constant working) but he did really well and is still leaps and bounds beyond where he was a few months ago.

Carey suggested we work on more small circles (mostly we just do 20meter ones or so, we don't do a lot of small ones) and weaving through cones to get him bending. I figure I also want to do more trot poles with him (I always think about it and then never set them up before I get in the saddle. *facedesk*) and possibly do them slightly off the ground to encourage him to pick up his feet more.


SprinklerBandit said...

If you forget to set poles and cones before you get on, just hop off and do it anyways. It's great practice for horses to get used to having us get on and off without them actually being "done". It'll probably help in trail season, too.

Analise said...

You make a good point, I'm just lazy! ;) That and I can't just hop back up on him, he's too tall for me to hike my leg up into the stirrup so then we have to go over to the mounting block and get on from there. Which is a weak excuse, I know, and it's not like it could hurt to have more practice at standing at the mounting block, either.