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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Rev. 4, 5, & 6

4. Do everything in rhythm to the horse.

Seems kind of obvious huh? Oh, I knew about asking for my transitions at the right time, letting my arms move, timing the crop etc. But last night at my lesson, as I'm trying to keep my stupid right leg back, this came into focus - instead of fighting to PUT my lower leg back and HOLD it there, instead I let the movement of her canter slide my lower leg back, and voila! there it stayed.

5a. If her head goes up do NOT lower my hands.

This was TOTALLY counter-intuitive. In rides if she got high-headed, I would lower my hands. I had always been *told* that high hands make for an high headed horse. My trainer explained to me that if I put my hands down with her head up, I'm putting pressure on the bars and it's causing her head to go up even more. By keeping my hands approximately 1 fist above her withers at all times - even when her head goes up, I had a MUCH better response and she would get over her hissy fit/mare moment faster.

5b. If my right elbow straightens (my right elbow is related to my stupid right leg - they both have issues) her head goes up. Focus! Keep the elbow bent!

6. Don't get into a fight with a mare.

You may win and they will "toe the line" but they will absolutely ONLY give you what you are asking. If instead, you negotiate with them and they "see the light" so to speak....that same mare will try her best and give her above and beyond what you asked for.

I KNOW this. That is why, on the trail, Farley and I have speed "negotiations" and a lot of times, even though I have a plan, there is a compromise. It keeps her positive (she likes having a say, or at least knowing her opinion has been heard), but she still knows I make the final decisions and will back them up.

I really screwed this up when it came to cantering. About a year and half ago I tried to canter her in the arena. She refused (balking, bucking refused). I got her to canter (finally!), but it's always been a struggle. I get it - she isn't built for it, it's hard, and she'd rather trot or gallop. One day, about 3 months ago, I had HAD it with her bitchy attitude and her breaking gait whenever she felt like it. I rode her one handed and every time she broke gait (from canter to trot) without me asking I whacked her with the crop. She got the message but has cantered sullenly in the arena ever since. On the trail - no problem. In the arena - swishy tails, bucking, and nasty mare ears.

I'm slowly bringing her to the point where she is willing again. I'm quiet when I ask, I try not to surprise her, and I try to be very clear about what I'm asking.

She still can be a bit witchy. For my lesson yesterday, she picked up the wrong lead like 15 times!!! before going to correct one. This was her good side! And this horse knows leads!!! I'm positive she was doing it because she didn't want to play at that particular moment....but I kept asking nicely and we got it eventually.


  1. Ah! Mares. Aren't they wonderful?

  2. "Don't get in a fight with a mare" - Amen, sister!

  3. Catching up on my blog reading so I apologize for the late chiming in...

    I have the same problems! 5a) Head goes up/hands want to go down. Bad! Really bad! 5b) I keep forgetting to bend my elbow too! When it straightens we lose that nice soft contact. Think of all those elite riders and where their arms are.

    And mare...oh, did I mention mare?


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