Thursday, November 19, 2009

Happy Feelings

I went out to ride yesterday and had a frustrating time. Izzy was leaning out both shoulders, spooking at random things, and generally ignoring me like an obnoxious teenager. We had a few good moments, but they weren't connected.

When I got home last night, I spent some time thinking about our ride. I was using an inside opening rein to turn, but that just encouraged Izzy to pop her outside shoulder out and lean through it. For obvious reasons, I'm not a huge fan of this maneuver. In an ideal world, I would be able to open my inside rein and ride her from my outside aids, but we're simply not there yet. It's coming.

Today we needed to work on the same things we did yesterday, so I tried to approach it carefully. It was late, so I didn't bother lunging Izzy. She was fine. I worked on keeping both hands pretty much together on top of her withers and riding turns from my body at the walk. This is a pretty basic concept, but Izzy's young and inexperienced enough that it seems earth-shaking to her. She does lean either direction, so I tried keeping her balanced and centered by holding the outside rein steady and giving the inside rein while using my body to turn and my legs and whip as a reminder.

Izzy had a meltdown.

She didn't want to work, didn't want to go forward, didn't want to listen. She backed way off and tried to get behind my leg. I just sent her forward and kept asking. We made big circles, even in the scary areas, but she had to go forward, first and foremost. Then she tried running in to canter, but she didn't realize that she was simply playing in to my plans. I want her balanced at all three gaits, and what we were working on was not gait-specific. So I rode the canter and continued to ask.

It took several circles, but she started listening and moving. It almost seemed easier for her at the canter, but maybe that's because she's not as coordinated so I can influence her more easily. When she could trot a circle in each direction, staying under my weight without leaning out either shoulder, we were done.

And thank you everyone for your input on the previous post. It's a topic that I may revisit.


  1. Sounds like you had a plan and it started to work - I expect she has to go through that stage of having a mini-meltdown first.

  2. Aha, proof of the pudding...or the principles that riding is not a science. You discovered Izzy's "problem of the day," found the root of it, and developed your own exercise to correct it. You'd not find that in any book!

    Well done.

  3. Good on you for sticking it out with Izzy. I know what you mean - I had a bad ride on Sam today but I couldn't work through it - too frustrating!!!!

  4. Sprinkler Bandit, when I read your blog, I know I am dealing with a real professional! I wish I knew half as much as you do.

  5. Good work! You're starting to move beyond just getting her used to being backed and towards really starting her training. There will be some meltdowns, but you obviously know how to handle them. Just keep doing what you're doing and pretty soon you'll get to the fun part!

    Love the new picture, Izzy is very photogenic!


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