Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Trotting and Tension

As promised, we broke out the jumping tack and I set trot poles yesterday. We were in the indoor because it was blowing about 30mph and gusting around 45, which always makes me grumpy.

Really, though, it couldn't have been a more perfect way to practice relieving tension. Izzy was looky--stuff was blowing around and making noise and I was uncomfortable. Have I mentioned I hate wind? Yeah. Oh, and also the corn field next to the area had a big ol' tractor driving around in it.

Anyways. I let Izzy warm up on the lunge and blow off any steam. (Not much.) Then we stood by the mounting block until we both felt calm enough, and I got on. Izzy just stood and waited for me to be ready to go. When I had the whip properly situated in my hands, off we went. I kept her on a short enough rein that if something went majorly wrong, I could drop the whip and pick up contact, but long enough that we didn't really have any contact otherwise. She started getting more looky. I pushed my hands forward (to keep myself from taking back) and put leg on.

Huh. It worked. Izzy's strides got longer and slower, just like Stephanie said they would. We did a little figure 8, then went straight. I felt nervous, so I asked Izzy to halt, again, using my body, pushing hands forward. She did. We walked off immediately. We trotted. We did transitions when I felt insecure. Izzy was a star.

When we started the trot poles, I realized that I wasn't riding Izzy forward enough--she'd lose impulsion about halfway through and take awkward steps. I focused on riding forward. About halfway through, I even held the whip normally and just rested my hands on her neck, but still rode with my body.

It was great.

A couple of final notes:
1) Izzy is a fabulous amazing horse and I need to give her credit for that. As Stephanie is fond of saying, "Ride her like she's a good horse and she will be. If you ride like she might do something, who knows what crazy stuff she would do."
2) I can ride (and ride well) without constantly using my hands.


  1. Hey good for you! She is a rockstar! I too ride defensively and I'm reallllly trying not to b/c that is not very trusting of my good boy.

  2. Yeah for a great ride :) I too have to remind myself to ride like the ride I picture in my head - calm, forward, no melt downs!

  3. Good stuff! Glad it went so well - I hate wind too.

  4. I too hate wind and ride with my hands WAY too much. Good job!!

  5. What a great reminder to ride positively. I loved reading this.

  6. I love your final notes! This is such a great move forward, congratulations! I also love your comment, "Izzy was a star." That really says something. With the wind, tractors, and your statements that you were nervous, through it all she showed to you what kind of horse she is. Well done for both of you! Keep in mind what you did worked, and yes, you can ride!!! Izzy is proof!

  7. I have a theory with my two 4 year old mares. I rarely take up a contact when riding them except when I want to school collected on the bit. I make it the horse's responsibility to be brave and forward, so she doesn't look to me all the time for reassurance. I find my mare has developed a habit all by herself that if she is scared of a horse-eating-monster, she goes straight up to investigate. This results in less fights, less stress and she doesn't get cranky with me or blames me for much. This helped her rearing habit too. Love your last point about riding her like she is a good horse, it's a great one that I will be using in the future!!

  8. I think I love your trainer:) She's totally right, and it's something I struggled with for a loooong time (and still do)-the idea that your horse under you is a direct reflection of yourself. You guys are going to go far:) Also, "You have a better horse than you think". I think that's Dr. Cook's slogan, but it applies to so much, no matter what tack you ride in.


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