Thursday, August 30, 2012

Problem solved…

So I was right about my canter transitions.  They are still a little shaky - I don’t always feel completely ‘plugged in’ to the saddle/the feel of the horse as I ask for them.  Again, I think that has a lot to do with the lack of practise, but I was right about the shoulders tipping forwards thing.  Shoulders back and I got all my transitions when I asked for the them yesterday.  Yay!

I was riding a different horse as yesterday – Buttercup, and while she was sweet, she was definitely more work than Ernie, whom I think I might be slightly smitten on.  I keep on having thoughts about taking him away and tucking him up in a big lush paddock of green grass and spoiling him rotten.  *sigh*  I would if I could, I really would.

He’s not that popular with a lot of the staff at the school, I guess they think he’s too push-button and easy to ride, but honestly, in my mind that’s not the case.  I just feel like he’s a well broke horse; what I am aiming for with my own beasties!  He still has a high enough level of sensitivity that requires precision on the part of the rider, he's not obedient if you don't do it right.  Though, having said that you probably can get away with a lot on him - he is a riding school horse.  What I appreciate about him is that he still requires you to ride correctly or it’s just not pretty.

In my mind that’s the pleasure of a well broke horse.  You get to focus on the harmony between horse and rider, working on perfecting your understanding of each other, rather that just working on making things work full stop! 

Like for example, Buttercup didn’t feel like bending yesterday, which meant I really had to ride hard to get her to respond to me, whereas with Ernie I have to work on timing – making sure that I am asking juuustt right.  I like that.  I like precision and sensitivity. 

I guess that’s just the wanna-be dressage diva in me.  I know people can be rather contemptuous of a push-button horse, but I think that bringing your horse to the level of commitment where he KNOWS his job and will do it practically no matter what – that’s not a bad thing peoples!   It's called work ethic!

Obviously, you don’t want the horse to become deaf to the rider, or at the point where he won’t respond to any different stimuli, but I don’t think that’s were Ernie is at.  I have a lot of respect for him, and I think that he is a good example of what I am hoping to achieve with Joey. 

What do you think?  Are push-button horses just an easy ride for riders that don't want to put in the effort, or is there something more to it than that?  I’d love to hear what you think. 

See ya,


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Figuring it out - Canter Transitions


Things have been a bit slow at the moment; but I have been busy at the riding school, teaching the Tiny Tots class and in return…  Riding lessons!

It’s so nice to ride a horse that isn’t going to fuss, or freak out unexpectedly - I am really enjoying it as a wee bit of a break from my never-quite-know-what-you-are-going-to-get Joey lad! 

Also, I get to practise cantering!!  Haha.  I know, I know – I sound like a total n00b saying that, but it’s true.  When I had Copper I had to go back and teach him the basics of using his body and balancing himself with a rider on his back.  While he liked to canter, it wasn’t pretty, nor particularly safe as he’d race around like he was a motorbike on a racetrack, leaning over on a really sharp angle.  I’d have to lift up my seat and plant my butt over on the outside of the saddle to counter-balance his weight so that we didn’t go over sideways!

Needless to say, I stuck with walk and trot work before moving up to cantering.  The only problem is that we were only just getting to that stage when I discovered that I had outgrown him, so then of course I leased him out.

Whereupon I replaced him with Joey.  Hmm, young, green, unbalanced horse?  Huh.  Guess we’re back at the walk and trot….  *sadface*   Not that I mind all that much, but it does mean that I haven’t done any serious canter work in years. 

And as a result I found out that my canter transitions suck when I got a horse that knew the job and I couldn’t get a canter out of him.  : /  
I fixed that by changing the rein, for some reason I find the right rein canter easier than the left, then when I switched back I got the left rein canter lead.  However, I was still not satisfied with that solution.  

I had noticed that when first asking for the canter transition I was dropping my left shoulder down and I knew that was the problem, but I didn’t know why.   So back home I did some research and felt like a detective when I figured it out!

I was actually tipping my shoulders forwards in an effort to produce canter, however, in doing that, I weakened my driving seat aid.  To compensate I dropped my weight down on the inside to try and strengthen the inside leg aid.  Of course this resulted in my dropping the left shoulder, blocking the horse’s inside shoulder which he needs to be able to LIFT in order to strike off with canter!   Also, in tipping forwards, my weak seat would have allowed him to string out in the back so he probably couldn’t get his hind end under him to lift his shoulders up either.   *whew* 

While all of this was happening, my instructor couldn’t actually see my shoulders tipping forwards, but I am hoping that the solution for me will to be “sit back”, keep my shoulders upright/slightly back, and drive with my seat. 

We’ll see if this turns out to be the cure for my crappy canter transitions, but I know for sure what I am doing wrong so at least we have half the diagnosis!

See ya,


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