Monday, June 21, 2010

Operator Error

Remembering how fast we blew through horses at our last play day, I trailered both of mine to the farm again. Turned out, Kris and Nita were not able to join us, so I wouldn't have had to bring them, but a gratuitous trailer ride never hurt anyone.

Jazu was a stinker about being caught both coming and going, but once caught, he loaded without hesitation.

He spent the time playing with the junior stallions while I rode Poco. Well, some of the time. The little boys were interested in trying to impress the girls, which did not impress Jaz.

Heather rode Cayenne, an orphan QH filly she hand-raised. Although she measures barely 14hh, she's got substance and you can see she carries Heather well. Stubborn little girl, though.

It was hot, and Pokey was relaxed and compliant. With barrels, ground poles, and me making him do yo-yos, he was engaged and wasn't trying to anticipate our next move.

I'd like to thank whomever it was who wrote a post about looking where you're going. Sounds like such a no-brainer, but I caught myself looking around, looking down at Poco, etc. No wonder we're all over the place! It went much better when I kept my eyes on my destination. Pokey stayed close to the fence line and didn't short-cut corners. He was a lot more likely to actually walk in a straight line. I didn't have to fine tune every step he took.

The other thing I worked on was sitting back and relaxing, which led to a huge revelation; an 'aha' moment, if you will — I'm holding myself back because I'm holding him back excessively. When Poco drops his head, I tense up because I know he has to have his head down to buck or to drop and roll, both of which he's done. I'm also afraid that if I give him his head, he'll take off. He used to do that to me when I first started to ride him.

In order for us to take our next big step together, I have got to trust him enough to give him his head.

Sounds so easy when I say it like that, doesn't it?


Jeni said...

Looks like you guys had a great ride and those "aha" moments are wonderful aren't they!?!

Tammy Vasa said...

That looking ahead is a hard one for me, too. On the trails this weekend, you have to take a narrow trail over an inlet to get to the real trails. It was muddy & slick & every time, Windy's rear foot would slip to the downhill side even though I had her pushed to the other side with my foot. Finally, the lightbulb went off that I was looking down at where her feet were going, so even though I was pushing her one way, the weight in the saddle from me looking down was giving mixed messages. Next time across, I trusted my horse and looked ahead. No slip at all. Yeah, an "aha" moment for me, too.

Cactus Jack Splash said...

Sounds like you made progress. I got past letting my horse have his head by putting a 20 ft long line on him and having a friend hold it while we worked in a circle on a loose rein. She was there as an emergency back-up, turns out she was never needed but it gave me a sense of security.

Pinzgauer said...

Hmm, looks like I am going to have to remember to dress up for play days, Mrs. "I always have my camera ready".

Hmm... now lets see, cool, breezy... presentable. Is there such a thing for this blasted heat?

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I still have to remind myself sometimes to look ahead where we're going.

I really focused on doing that during the last ACTHA CTR, especially on the obstacles. Wow! What a difference that made!

I'm glad you and Poco had a great ride. Oh, and Heather too.


BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Hey, I'm with ya on the 'trust' thing. I'm kinda over trusting my bucksking horse. He has picked up the habit of planting me in the dirt when I am least expecting it. Today, I took him to the neighbors and rode the snot out of him again. I put the reins in one hand, held onto the horn with the other and made him go...and go...and go. He doesn't like it when I give him leg cues, so I booted the heck out of him (no spurs) and made him move off of my leg. Guess he figured it wasn't worth trying to blow up if I was prepared because he was pretty good about everything and didn't try to whip around or blow up with me.

Anonymous said...

That's really good stuff - and some great pictures of the two of you working together, too!

City girl turned Country Girl said...

It's a big deal trying to work back into trust with your horse after multiple incidents!! Kuddo's to you!!

My DD will do so much better everytime she runs if she's looking. My SIL has the duty of hollering "look" at each barrel because she forgets LOL!!

Laura said...

The looking where you want to go is a big thing for me too... Kinda handy when you get the hang of it! :-)

Glad you had a good ride and made some progress!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Giving the horse its head is something I've been thinking about too lately. I saw a video of me riding two years ago when I first started taking equitation lessons, and the trainer had me cranking my horse's nose into his chest. It looked painful and seemed so unnecessary, but if I loosened the reins he'd yell at me. Now that I'm not taking lessons from him anymore and trail riding on my own, I find myself giving the horses their heads so they can go up and down hills more easily. I think it helps them relax.

AareneX said...

You are both doing GREAT! I love the pink helmet cover, it's adorable.

Leah Fry said...

Seriously, I never realized how much I was looking DOWN or gawking all over the place, I guess unconsciously looking for the next thing that might spook him. What a difference!

EvenSong said...

The looking where you're going is a big one--I always told lesson kids "If you look down at the ground, that's where you'll end up!"
As far as the contact with his mouth--One of the things I have to constantly remind myself riding my young stock is that the "death grip" isn't necessary, and can be detrimental to their training. It's like constantly nagging them, to the point that eventually, they just may choose to ignore you!

Unknown said...

Hey neat pics! Looks like you guys had fun! Always funner to ride with pals.

aurora said...

Great pics Leah, especially the last Poco-motion one!

Many moons ago while taking a lesson I was asked to drop my reins use no leg or turn my head, and just look with my eyes. I was thinking "yeah right, horses can feel eye movement". I couldn't believe that horse headed the direction I looked (and thought)- without other cues. Left an impression on me, how extremely intuitive most horses are.

I'm so easily distracted, I too have to remind myself to look where I want to go.

Anonymous said...

Great pictures of riders and horses. Fun is being with your boyz. That Cayenne is a beautiful horse. Enjoy you blog and pictures. Fl Fan

Leah Fry said...

Aarene, it's not a cover, it's the helmet itself.

Aurora, that amazes me, too. I find that all I have to do is LOOK (turn my head) in the direction I want to go, and he turns. I guess even that slight a movement is cue enough.

Evensong, it's been a challenge. As soon as I loosen up, he wants to grab it and RUN.

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