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?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

With our powers combined....

I love reading the posts over at mugwump chronicles. Not only is she a thoughtful, knowledgeable and poetic blogger but she always has the best comments! So with her kind of blog in mind I share this.

Sometimes I wonder why I blog. Is it selfish? Maybe. Definitively self indulgent..

But I am not just blogging about what I am doing, I am reading about what other people are doing. So many blogs about horses! I read about eventers, reiners, trail riders, jumpers, endurance riders... people just starting out with horses, people who have been riding for years, amateurs and professionals. People who ride with bits, without bits, train with fancy sticks, whisper, or who do none of the above. Why do I bother? Why don't I just read books, magazines, and rent dvds to supplement my lessons and clinics like I used to do?

Maybe the answer is in the two links above. When I read blogs I am learning through shared experience. As horse people who blog we are all connected. We all have pieces of a big puzzle that is the horse and through our blogs maybe we can get together and finally see the big picture.

What do you think about the idea of sharing and building off ideas in the horse blog world? Are you learning something or just wasting time? Why do you read blogs?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Itching to work

I Have not been doing a lot of posting because I have not been doing a lot of training. I ride about twice a week but I feel aimless. I don't know what I should work on or what I can work on with just 2 days a week to work with! It is frustrating!
Bodhi is doing great. Between his part boarder and me he gets ridden around 4 times a week. He is learning how to be a mature equine by working with a young rider doing a varied amount of things. He had drill practice with her today for example. When I ride him he feels very mature and balanced. Like a trained horse :) I guess he is 6 now. Wow time really flies!

Now that he is so solid in the basics I am just itching to do more advanced work. The truth of the matter is though I am the one who needs the further training to continue on. I have set up a lesson or two with a dressage coach but they have all been canceled for one reason or another. I feel stagnant and uninspired. I want to do more clicker work too but with such a limited amount of time I am not sure what I should even try???

So with that mind frame I saw this video and thought I would share.

With the amount of time I can devote to riding it is true in the dressage department I am going no where fast....
So I have decided to spend our precious time together working on perfecting our bitless riding, and doing the exercise in the above video: getting my horse more soft relaxed, and round.For our ground work I am going to work on stretching and playing soccer! Two things Bodhi and I really enjoy doing together. I am such a goal orientated person it is hard for me to just relax.

First day of mission relax and enjoy the pony was a success! We rode in the bitless and he was SO soft. We worked on stretching down at the trot and canter transitions. He seemed to really enjoy it. He also remembers how to play soccer like he just learned yesterday. Maybe one day Bodhi and I will have the time and expertise to achieve this: Cantering in hand!

But for now I am happy with my soccer playing pony!