Friday, August 7, 2009

I miss Bodhi

I think i am obsessed really.... every five minutes a sigh and then the thought I miss Bodhi! Oh boy

Yesterday when I made it out to the farm it was already drizzling and gray. Determined not to let another day pass with out some riding done I got Bodhi out of the pasture and put his bridle on and rode him in one of the empty pastures. There is something so spirit lifting- to ride a horse bare back through the drizzleing rain. He was so light and forward and it felt like every slight adjustment I made he would respond to. I am now confident enough to canter him which is so much fun as his powder white mane flaps as he just chugs along. He has such a nice canter for riding bareback. I love his collected trot the most though when we get it just right it feels like I melting right into the horse.

We had some goofy/fun moments as well of me trotting around with my arms outstretched trying to steer only with my legs. He is getting better with that there may be some bridle-less riding in our future! His steering is O.K. but I have to brag that his stop is marvelous. Just say whoa and he stops, or just sit deep and grip and he stops. He then of course thinks he deserves a sugar. What a good boy.

I am on Cloud 9 and feeling very connected with my pony but we have some hurdles ahead of us before I will claim my 4 year old is finally "trained" or broke or finished etc....
Left Lead Canter- I can not get him to pick it up! Not riding or lunging. I am hoping that with more strength training it will come naturally so up until this point I have been ignoring the issue. We really have not done to much canter work at all on account of his age save for just asking for the correct response to my canter cue. I think now is the time for us to buckle down though. Any suggestions for exercises that could help?
Trail Riding- I think this is mostly my beef. I think he would be a calm mount if I could be a calm rider. I have been avoiding trailing as I feel like I am just going to make a mess of it. I am thinking that I also need to buck up and start working with this as well. I have to have faith that even if my nervousness will make him nervous at first that we can work through it together. It might take longer than it would with a more confident rider but I think Bodhi and I are strong enough partners to work it out eventually. Baby steps.

I am having a riding lesson tomorrow for the first time in almost a month! That will knock me off my not so high horse so to speak! Hopefully Katie will also have some ideas on what to do about the lead.

I hope everyone gets in some nice rides this weekend!


  1. On the trail riding - just do it in little bits at first - even a few yards at a time - that way neither of you will be stressed.

    Can he do the left lead when he's in the pasture? If yes, it's just a matter of communicating what you want - if no, then there's a physical issue that may need to be remedied. Young horses do have to figure out how to carry a rider, and it could just be part of his learning process.

  2. He doesn't do the left lead in the pasture or round pen until recently! So I am hoping that as young horse he just needs a little more balancing and strengthening to do. I am hoping it is not anything physical other than immaturity.

  3. He may need to strengthen his hind end to get correct canter departures. My horse has difficultly cantering to the right. As a racehorse, the right lead was never truly developed.

    Consider looking into chiropractic work, equine massage, or simply asking the vet to look at your horse. Have someone watch you on the ground. If he drags his right hind hoof, that means that leg is weaker. Since the left lead starts from the right hind, that could be your issue. You could also try flexion tests, where you hold the leg up and bend it for about two minutes, then ask the horse to trot off. If he is stiff or has pain issue, he will trot off with pronounced lameness, especially in the first few steps. Do the good leg (left hind first), then the potentially weaker one. Try to have someone help you, preferably someone with an experienced eye for catching lameness, or at least someone who can lead your horse at a trot while you watch him.

    If he still appears to be strong, do lots of circle work, transitions, bending, and flexion work. Beef up his hind end with tighter circles, ground pole work, stopping and backing, hill work, etc. This could take months of preparation and conditioning to get the muscle tone, but its well worth it to have a horse with a strong hind end, particularly in dressage.

    Once you are ready to ask for the canter, put him on a big circle, preferably at the trot, take up contact in your outside rein, and ride off your outside leg. Keep your inside leg long, and open your inside rein very slightly. When he feels balanced underneath you, sit into your outside seat bone, draw your outside leg back slightly, and ask for your canter. Even if he doesn't get it right away, gently bring him back down, rebalance, and try again. Keep asking and stay patient: he will get it!

  4. Thanks for all of the ideas! Your training recommendations were very much on par with my trainers and I have changed up or routine to hopefully get him stronger in the haunches. I also think that your description of the aids for the canter depart were great! You described perfectly what I *try* to do when I ask for the canter, especially on a young horse.
    The physical considerations have been resting at the back of my mind. It scares me to think he may have some physical issue especially since he is so young and I have been so careful! Always something to consider and the vet is coming out in September...