Monday, June 3, 2013

Taking it Back to Basics

Last week, when things were slow, I did some more reading.
Specifically, over at Mugwump Chronicles, Which is, by far, one of my favorite places to go for training information.   This post in particular is about retired/former rope horses.  I read it several times so that the info could really sink in, and then let it go.

Sunday I finally got to ride again.  Mcdiesel had just reworked his arena for me.  I had on my new summer riding hat. It was warm but not scorching and I was feeling pretty good.

My horse on the other hand actually moved to the other side of the pen when I went out to get him.  Its been a long time since he has done that.  I took that as a sign that he had no interest in repeating our last ride.   The good news is that we were both on the same page as far as that goes, and I was armed with a new game plan to avoid it.

We started with our ground work, as always, and our transitions. It was as if the last ride had never happened.  (wheewww)

When I mounted up we flexed a little, back up a little, and then we walked. We walked a lot.  We did the rope gate, we did the "back through an L", we did some side passing (FYI- I forgot my spurs, so we worked without them, and although he doesn't move off my leg as quickly he still does it) and we kept on walking.  Every time he would try to speed up I would push my butt into the saddle and tell him to walk. I tired not to use any rein contact, but if I did I kept it light. If he followed my cues without the use of reins, I praised and praised and praised.  I tried to be very aware of all my body parts.  What are my legs saying? What are my hands saying?

I noticed one of the times I watched my video that there were times when my hands were saying "stop" but the rest of me was saying go.  So I want to really avoid that from now on.

It is funny to ride him, especially when we are learning stuff.  His little ears just flick back and forth constantly.  I assume that means he is paying attention.  They always move back if I say something, or at least one will, sometimes both.

Pretty soon I started asking for a trot. Slight squeeze with my legs and a verbal command. We would trot for 20 feet, then I'd ask for the walk, trying desperately to not use my hands, or to save them as a last resort.  It took quite a while, but finally I was able to get several downward transitions without touching the reins, so we moved on.  I added in the extended trot, and again it took quite a while but eventually I was getting good response with very little, if any rein contact.  

I wondered if I should stop there, (and maybe I should have) but felt like we were making good progress so we kept going.  We seriously do pretty good till I start asking for a little speed, then the marathon runner in him takes over.  But, even with that, it was never bad.  We just  had to work a little harder at it. I let him do a lot of cantering in rectangles (rather than circles, it  keeps him from dropping his shoulder) and if I felt him wanting to charge off, I would just say "easy" and plant my butt. If that didn't get the response I wanted, then I simple change my rectangle and make a turn. He never once felt out of control, just a few times if there was a lot of arena in front of him, he would try to speed up without me asking.  So I'd throw a turn in that he wasn't expecting.  It wasn't too long before he was dropping his head and moving along nice and relaxed.  We never argued, and that was my goal.

After I had him to what I felt was sufficiently warmed up, we moved on to something else.  Trax is great at loping in circles, but asking him to lope for 30 feet and then drop back down to a trot, or a walk...well that is a whole different story.  So we went back to our transitions.  Walk, trot, extend the trot, lope, trot, walk, and all over again.  He didn't care for it much but with some work was beginning to pay attention at least.  When I got 3 downwards transitions from a lope to a trot without me having to ask more than once, I ended that exercise so he could stew on it a while.

We did a couple of more trail exercises and then I decided to see what would happen if we attempted our pattern again.  After I made that decision I wondered if I would regret it.  I did not.

We walked to the center, we trotted, we stopped. 1.25 spin to the right. R lead lope in a small circle, Lead change, left lead lope around opposite end, extend the lope down the side of the arena, stop, 2.5 spins to right,, R lead lope to other end, trot over poles at end of the arena, right lead extended lop down the side, stop, 2.5 spins to the left, back up.

The only thing he didn't do perfectly were his spins.  Not that he wasn't trying to do them, he just fell out a little on his hind end. He stopped when I asked, he slowed down for the trot when I asked, he slowed down for the lead change when I asked.  It was truly a beautiful run.  Of course I don't have it on tape. LOL

We called it a day and I let him roll and  graze for a while.  When I put him back in the trailer he laid his head on my shoulder for a minute.  I guess that means we are friends again.

It is hard to pose and hold the camera at the same time...with a horse.  
I am totally digging my new riding hat.
Shades my head and my face, but lets plenty of air through. 

Dirty sweat- the latest in Ranch Pony Attire. 

Nom Nom Nom

"But Lady, the Grasses are out here and I am still hungry!"

I got to spend  a little time with the cutest little elf baby grandson over.
Little Nikko.   I asked if he could go for a pony ride, but his mom says he is too young.
(I was Kidding)

I spent all day Saturday working on the new trailer.
I pulled out the old mats, pressure washed the inside, then cut new mats to go in.
Then took it over the welders for a few repairs.
Still need to fix the plastic and replace some screws with rivets.
We learned the hard way that this trailer cannot be pulled with TC's new pick up.
I have successfully dented 3 out of 4 fenders on it.  Twice on this trailer alone.
One time all I did was pull it forward, but the incline was enough to cause it to hit.  UGH!
From now on, we use the flat bed. 
But all in all it is looking pretty good, and I would even call it usable right now. 
All in all it was a pretty good weekend. I am looking forward to getting a few more rides in this week. I hope we will get to go the fair grounds at least once. But I'm not sure that we will. This month is piling up quickly with things to do!

I hope that everyone had a great relaxing weekend as well.


  1. what a great session!!!And the cutest little elf there too

  2. So glad you had a good ride after a bad ride, makes you want to do it again :)