Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Silly Season Shenanigans

… Not on horseback thankfully!

But yeah, crazy times. Copper is getting another extended holiday because of all the things we have on… *sigh*

Copper chillin' - A Riding Habit- Hai der! I iz on “Hor-la-daiz”! -

But it is what it is.

I ride when I can, so we did a short trail ride on Saturday which was quick and fun. Then Monday I managed to hop on for 30 minutes or so and work on some flatwork.

Sometimes I feel like it’s really hard to make progress with him. I feel like our wheels are just spinning and going nowhere. I think it’s partly because of all the holidays, but also because it is rather hard to keep the long term goals in mind while also processing what’s happening in the moment of the ride.

I have to work really hard to assessing the feedback Copper’s giving me under saddle and adjusting our ride to fit in with what he needs – ie, stiff shoulders, shoulder fores/shoulders in; not enough impulsion, some transitions and rein backs to drop his croup and engage his hind end, etc. This is way you need a trainer…  *double sigh*  Oh well. We’ll keep trucking on.

So this ride we did some trot leg yields to get him carrying himself properly from back to front, and we also did a little on trot-canter transitions. The cantering definitely helped his trotting – he did a beautiful 20m left rein circle afterwards. He was really carrying himself, using his hocks for suspension and that resulted in a lovely, perfect bend on the circle – it was so good I stopped the ride right then and there!

Hai! I iz Sir Derpalot! - A Riding Habit 
- I iz gooood poneh! -

But his transition into the left rein canter was terrible. And I mean a.w.e.f.u.l. with a capital FULL! Copper was just trying to run into the canter – he seems to forget that cantering starts with his inside hind leg, and thinks that if he just keeps leaning and running he’ll fall into left lead canter. 

Which is true, but when he does, it is so rush-y and strung out that you just can’t rebalance that hot mess. So I try to remind him that when I am squeezing with my inside leg for the canter aid I want him to lift and push off with his hind leg and not just run faster!

He did get it eventually, and then it was a beautifully balanced canter, and really straight! It was so nice. I just hope he’ll remember how he did it, because then we might struggle less with it next time.

Copper’s actually pretty good like that – he likes moving properly, and tends to retain the muscle memory from what I teach him. He’s really got a great athletic mind. But that’s not to say it’s easy for him to overcome his bad habits, so we’ll have to keep working on that one for sure.

Do you have any tips for teaching a horse to strike off with their back leg for a canter transition? I know I’m not doing it the best way – I’m just trying to hold him together, but push him up rather than forwards.  So yeah, I am really holding onto his mouth and half-halting pretty dang hard.

I don’t like doing that, I know he doesn’t like it either, but my toolbox is empty with this one apparently….  I’ll do some research and see whether I can come up with something!

See ya,


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