Thursday, January 26, 2012

how I learned to relax and love the rein-back

Like I mentioned earlier I have been in a dressage training rut. The one coach I would really like to work with has no room for new students. I feel like in this stage I need a more experienced person on the ground to really progress. I don't want to ask Bodhi to do things I am not 100% solid in myself.

My boarding facility is mostly western. The owner of the stables is also the coach and trainer specializing in western riding and horsemanship. Because of all my blogger friends who ride western I have learned I am really missing out... so I took my first lesson in western tack in my life.

It was a bit frustrating. For the first time in over 15 years I did not know how to tighten my girth--I mean cinch! I did not know if my saddle placement was correct. Split reins? I fumbled with my reins like I did as a green rider! I think it illustrated to myself that I had a bit of an ego with my riding ability. I like people to think I am a good rider. It embarrasses me to feel inept. I think it was a well needed slice of humble pie.

Once I got over my rein problems (just tie them together dummy). We worked on freeing up the rib cage by having my calves swing with the motion of the rib cage, while my hips moved with the horses hips at the walk. It felt great! Bodhi's walk immediately improved as well. We then worked on three things I normally avoid (since Bodhi and I are still working on the basics and I have been told to leave these movements till later) Backing up, turn on the forehand, and turn on the haunches. How she wanted me to cue these movements was different than how I was taught in a dressage setting as well. So it took a bit of adjustment on my part but I really enjoyed the simplicity of it all.

I can see how these exercises are valuable in young horses to help them with their balance and transferring weight from the forehand to the hind end. I am going incorporate these into my schooling sessions.

She also pointed out that Bodhi did not like to stand still. I offered that it may be because I don't like to stand still. I like to keep moving and I guess I have never really worked on standing still for long periods of time in the middle of a schooling. She suggested I ask for more extended halts as rewards for Bodhi. I think that is great idea. I normally ask for a free walk down a diagonal as reward but now I will alternatively ask for a longer halt.

I am looking forward to learning more and taking more lessons.

What is your favorite "second" discipline?


  1. Standing is super important if you show western, especially if you show in the trail class. When I used to show AQHA, my trainer would have me sit in the back through L for ten minutes, not moving, to teach the horse to wait for your cue and not rush.

  2. that's awesome that you took a lesson in western tack! :-) There is a lot of emphasis on the turn on the fore/haunches etc. in western riding - kinda fun!

    My second favourite discipline - hmm... endurance riding? followed closely by dressage!

  3. I love being at a barn where I'm surrounded by several different disciplines. Particularly when it means you get a chance to try them all out! Sounds like you had a productive lesson and picked up a few ideas that can carry over to your main discipline.

    These days my primary discipline is reining...I'm really liking western pleasure, though, and I love the challenges of dressage.

  4. I haven't been here for a while. I think I checked in a few times but there was nothing you had posted new. Sorry for not keeping up here. I love Bodhi. He's so adorable.

    Sounds interesting to have taken some western lessons. I couldn't saddle up a western saddle and cinch to save my life. Someone would have to do it for me. Good for you for trying different things.

    I guess my second favorite thing would be learning dressage. I was always an equitation and hunter jumper, I still love jumping but I'm getting too old for it. So I've switched to dressage.