Monday, May 20, 2013

Training Tip: Riding bareback

So Joey’s being doing really well with the spotty and completely infrequent riding schedule we have at the moment.  It’s great because I wasn’t really sure that he had the temperament for that kind of riding, but he does. 

Of course, we don’t really get any where fast and he gets totally lazy, but we are improving a little bit at a time I think.

I have even ridden him bareback for the first time!  I wasn’t sure that he’d be ok with bareback riding, but he was really good.

It took a bit of time and patience to get him standing along side the fence long enough for me to hop on, but he is a quick learner and the next day when I did it again, it was much faster. 

I trained him to stand up for mounting by leading him in close to the fence and getting him to stand right next to it.  I would be on his right side as I  maneuvered him into the right position, then after I halted him, I would go around to his left and slowly hop up on the fence. 

I rubbed his back, and croup (the point over his hips between his back and his quarters) reach over and rub his opposite side.  If he was happy with that, I leant over his back a little bit and when I thought he was ready I’d put my leg over.  If the fence isn’t high enough to do that, I’d jump and lean over his back on my stomach, then swing my leg up and over.

If Joey moved forwards before I hopped on, I’d back him up and then take him around and line him up again.  If he’d swing his hind quarters away, I’d push them over again, and then take him around and line him up again. 

Putting him back in the place I wanted him to be is an important step before lining him up alongside the fence again because I want him to realize that moving forwards or sidewise isn’t going to get him away from the spot I want him to stand.  I also do this if he tries to move away while saddling or bridling him, and it’s a great training tool under saddle if he won’t stand still.

He is a bit nervous when I’m riding him bareback, but he listens to me – for the most part!  He did decided to see if he could try it out and refuse to walk on and away from all his mates in the paddock, but I soon squashed that idea.  Thankfully where I’ve been doing the bareback riding really is an ideal area to try it out in.

Basically the herd is in a big paddock up the back of another paddock that is next to two other big paddocks.  There is a narrow laneway that runs down the middle – it has a paddock on either side.  This laneway allows you to get access to the paddocks up the back. 

It’s a five to ten minute walk to get down there, so it’s a nice stretch of enclosed area that has lots of soft, squishy grass for emergency dismounts! I walk down, fetch Joey out of the paddock (I bridle him rather than riding in a halter – I don’t want to lose all control thankyouverymuch!) and ride him back down the laneway.

Oh, and I definitely wear my helmet! 

I am really happy though, because I think that we are making progress and building trust by experiencing different situations and scenarios together - like bareback riding.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ll be able to take him out on solo trail rides soon, which is a huge step from where we were when I first got him!

Next up: taking him out in the trail and getting him used to competition atmosphere. 

See ya,


Thursday, May 9, 2013

My First Ride Back After Having A Baby

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And it was great!

For all those new mothers who might be wondering about how/when to get back into horse riding; you can skip down to the end of the post where I put in the TMI details about my *ahem* condition when I went riding…  For the rest of you that might be squicked out by that kind of thing, feel free to skip those paragraphs!

Back to my ride: I ended up lunging Joey before I rode him as he seemed a little fresh when I pulled him out of the paddock, but it wasn’t long before I was up on his back.  Yay!

He felt pretty good – like I thought, a bit fresh and forward, but not stupid so that was actually ok.  

I warmed up at a walk and we did some outside track work (not a single spook – we’ve beaten that boogey side!  Double YAY!) and some serpentines, then we went to trot work because he kept asking to go forwards!

I was really excited by his trot because he was lifting up through his whither/shoulders, and I could feel his hind end rocking back.  He was actually off the forehand, and starting to move uphill!  I am sure that this is a result of keeping steady, consistent, and elastic contact with his mouth.  It’s allowed him to start working through his back, rather than jamming up his head and locking his neck and shoulders.

By lifting up through his shoulders he can work from his hind end, and activate the power there to eventually begin collection. Of course, at the moment his frame is still very open, and he still doesn’t like circles, so we have a long way to go as of yet. 

I am going to devise a new training routine for him though as I have bought a couple of books on the beginning stages of training for dressage.  I am itching to see how we get on from here and will definitely keep you updated as to how he goes!

See ya,


- Personal details below for postnatal women who want to know when to get back to riding after child birth -

I rode Joey at four weeks and two days after giving birth vaginally to my daughter.  I had had 2nd degree tearing of my perineum that was almost third degree, and as a result had a lot of stitches!  I think I had 7-8 stitches or more down there… 

It had taken about two weeks before the bruising and the swelling went down, but I didn’t have a long 3rd stage (pushing) in my labor, so it may take longer for that to subside if the 3rd stage is long.  Also, I didn’t end up with any hemorrhoids which are quite a common if you have a long 3rd stage.

Physically I still felt a little stiff and tender, so I definitely took it easy.  I think I only rode for 20-30 minutes.  Emotionally and mentally, I was fine – although tired, and that’s something to consider as well.  Particularly because if you are all over the place mentally, there’s an extremely good chance your horse is going to pick up on that.  It’ll only be a matter of your horse’s personality as to whether your emotional state will affect him a lot or not at all. 

In the end I just think you really have to listen to your body and follow your instincts.  Also, don’t let yourself get carried away.  I loved riding again, and it’s easy to get caught up in that, but I had to remember that it’s not just my downstairs that has to heal, but my abs as well. 

The abdominal muscles separate during the pregnancy, and now have to get back to together, as well as regain their strength and fitness! That means I just don’t have the core power that I need to ride, and yes, I was sore afterwards/the next day.

My pelvic floor and abs felt that 20-30 minute easy ride, I can tell you!  Keeping it short and sweet helped minimize the next day fall out.  This is also pertinent if you are not sure how well behaved your horse may be.

I would keep any long/difficult riding for a much later date – your body needs time to heal. 

Oh, and one last note – whether you are breastfeeding or not, make sure you wear a really good, supportive bra!  Wear two if you have too, but make sure those puppies don’t bounce around because that’s going to hurt…  ; )

If anyone has any further questions, feel free to email me/comment – I would love to help any new moms get back into the saddle!  : D

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Wise Words for Bad Behaviour

“Offering a horse productive guidance before or during times when a horse becomes distracted (or worried) can be a fairly easy way to not only get a troubled situation under control, but also build trust and confidence in both horse and rider. It is a matter of the rider staying focused on what they would like to achieve and helping the horse get there, instead of focusing on the horse's worried or distracted behavior and trying to stop it.”

Mark Rashid ~ Considering the Horse via Panic and The Pony

See ya,


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