Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Ride So Glorious, It Deserved Its Own Entry!

Yesterday, Joey and I extended his walks to a total of eight laps around the yard each time (when before, we were doing only four); and we try to talk these laps at least twice a day. But on our morning walk yesterday, before breakfast, I decided that I could begin to put him back into a bit and ride him bareback at a walk around the yard all eight laps; I thought that maybe it would help tone his back muscles to prepare for the saddle a little better; and it'll help me get back into shape and "relearn" how to ride again (I haven't ridden on over two months!).
He doesn't like the bit. Yesterday he didn't say "no," but he had to play with it a long moment to get used to it again (and I'm sure the metal was cold).
This morning, though, he flat out said "no" to it when I jingled it to let him know what my intentions were. He walked to the other side of the fence with slanted ears; but when I just remained quietly, warming the bit under my shirt, without pursuing him, his ears came forward, his eyes grew soft, and he watched me with an interested look. I talked to the cats a little as I stood there, and he took a few steps closer to me again. I turned and said in one of my sweetest voices, "I guess you don't want your cookie then, Joey?"
I don't know if he understood what I said, or it it was my voice or the fact that I hadn't pursued him and forced the bit into his mouth like I now remember I used to do without realizing it; at any rate, he ended up standing quietly (though without slanted ears) by my side. I let him nose the bridle, reminding him what my intentions were, and giving him every opportunity to say "no." But he didn't. He accepted the reins over his head and the chilly bit in his mouth and me on his back. He knew exactly where we were going, too; and without my having to steer him too much, he began his laps around the yard.
I made an observation, too, while I was riding:

Ob. 6: You don't have to exaggerate your movements in the saddle. A horse can feel a fly landing on him; he can definitely feel every one of my "heavy", "jerky" movements.

One of the gifts I received from my parents on Christmas was a DVD with episodes from a television show that is titled "The World of Horses". I'd never heard of it before, but it's really informative, being a show that is all about the different jobs horses have in the world.

After studying the way the barrel racers rode during training on one of the episodes on this DVD, and then noticing how Joey was stiff in his turns/corners, I decided that we should work on becoming supple in our turns while we were just walking laps for exercise. I realized that Joey is already well on his way to having fingertips control on the bit; but even when I exaggerated the leg motions that went with turning, I found him trying to resist me.
But then, I started out in exaggerated motions; I was leaning too far and stiffening up my legs and seat in expectation of his own "bracing" against me. I tried to keep a positive attitude as we turned to walk in the other direction, remembering what I've heard time and time again about suppleness not coming over night.

Suddenly, my attention was turned back to my riding as I realized that I was instinctively but lightly curing Joey around the turns -- and he was responding like a dream! I tried to figure out what he was responding to, and I think the biggest and most helpful difference I found in my absentminded riding from my super-focused riding was that I wasn't leaning my body at all. I also found my seat to be firm, yet relaxed; and I remembered what one Canadian barrel racer had said on my DVD: everything is worked from the center of your saddle.

As I embraced my new discovery in riding, Joey's ears were pointed forward and his stride had more purpose. His turns were very supple, as well.

That ride, at a walk, and simply for exercise, was one of the most beautiful we've had together! ^.^

A picture I found of us on another ride a couple of years ago. :)

Thanks for reading. Don't be afraid to come back for more entries later!

PS: I added a couple of quotes that I really liked onto my sidebar. Like them? :)



  1. Hey Sam! Its Kathleen :) It sounds like you and Joey are progressing really well! If you are looking for some easy ways to get him more supple after being out of shape, I suggest doing some side passes. When I first got Indy he had absolutely no muscle at all and was about as stiff as stiff could be. I tried doing side passes mounted but either he just didn't understand it or couldn't get it without some assistance, so I worked with him on the ground. After a few weeks of simply making him just step over, he built enough muscle to side pass a whole length of the arena. This helped with turning and him responding to my leg. Joey may be resisting you simply because of lack of muscle, not because he is being disobedient. Just a suggestion :)

    1. Kathleen! And here I was thinking that you had dropped off the face of the blogosphere, much less reading MY entries. ;D
      Thanks for the wonderful advice! I never thought about him just not being physically capable of doing what I asked of him. I shall try the side pass idea. :)

  2. Great post Samantha. felt like I was on the ride with you!

  3. Love this... quite a nice break through! I feel the same; the best riding comes intuitively - the more you over ride, the more you micromanage, and the less your horse can do for you. As always, love your posts!


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