Sunday, August 10, 2008

Good Rides Today

"If you find that thing you love, it doesn't necessarily matter whether you do it well or not -- you just need to do it."
- Stanley Tucci

I managed to get myself out the door by about 8:30 this morning to work with the horses before it got too hot. There was a nice little breeze that held the temps in the high 80s rather than the high 90s, where it has been for the last week at this time of the day.

Not having a barn means that going for a ride is somewhat akin to taking a baby somewhere. It probably takes me 6-8 trips to get the grooming kit, tack, my helmet, a crop, boots, boot jack, halter & lead rope, fly spray, etc., etc. from my laundry room and spare bedroom out the back door to the hitching post. I guess that's the price I pay for having the horses right outside my door, and I'm not complaining.

I might have opted for an easy mosey down the road, but Mr. Fry made a comment about how he was disappointed not to see me working the horses. Translation: "Woman, I worked my tail off and spent lots of money getting that area ready for you. Get out there and use that round pen!" So Jaz and I did your basic newbie stuff -- walk, trot, reverse, yo-yos, spiraling turns in and out (bending), and some figure 8s. Mr. Fry took some pix. Yes, I know my posture and my seat leave a lot to be desired, but I'm workin' on it, I'm workin' on it.
How do you like my raspberry helmet?
A fashion statement, to be sure.

I have no idea how long we actually worked. I lose all track of time when I'm with the horses. My guess would be 30-45 minutes, but don't get me to lyin'. Poco followed us back and I debated for a few minutes whether to tack him up or call it a day, and decided for the former. Given his behavior in the last few days, I was expecting some 'tude, but it was a good day to die (as Heather says), so I decided to go for it. We walked a few laps around to allow him to relax (he gets himself all worked up), and I showed him on the ground what we would be doing. He stood perfectly while I got on and waited calmly until I asked for a walk. Throughout the entire 20-30 minute ride, we only had two very minor challenges, but he took the correction well and did as I asked 98% of the time. I could not have asked for more or better from him.

I'm getting better at posting a trot, but I sure would like to know the secret to sitting a trot. I'm still all over the place unless I post. Jaz has one of those straight-up-and-down, teeth-jarring, choppy trots. Pokey is much smoother; he glides. Riding him is like riding a couch.

"WHEW!" is what I was saying. Dang, it was HOT! We were both sweating. My hair was literally dripping.

Probably the iffiest moments were after we were done in the round pen and I decided to ride him back across to the hitching post. I guess it's like when some trail horses realize they're headed back to the barn and want to get there in a hurry. I had to really work to hold him to a walk. I didn't want to go any faster because we had to cross the dry creek bed and take a narrow path through the trees and I didn't want to put my head and bare shoulders at risk from low branches. Even if that were not the case, I needed to hold him back... because I decide how fast we go.


manymisadventures said...

It sure seems like you're making some great progress with him! I've just read through all your posts, and I can definitely see you grow in confidence and knowledge.

So I'm wondering -- what kind of ground work do you do with Poco when you work with him? Does he lead nicely on a loose rope, halt, move his shoulders or haunches when you ask, back up politely? If you take him in the round pen tacked up and work with him in hand, will he relax and listen to you? Does it seem to be the tack that's the catalyst for tense, rude behavior, or you being mounted?

Have you ever had a chiropractor out to check him out? His intermittent nasty behavior under saddle speaks of pain to me, and I wonder if he doesn't have something still bothering him from his previous mistreatment. Saddle fit is another consideration.

Leah Fry said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment.
Most of the time, Poco has decent ground manners. He does lead on a loose rope and backs up very nicely. Sometimes he'll try to crowd me or come too far forward, but that's about the worst of it. If he gets too close to me, he gets an elbow -- HARD. If he comes too far forward, I just stick my arm out. I can get him to move his haunches ("over") but haven't figured out how to get just the shoulder to move.
I am just learning to longe, but I learned how to drive him very early on, and that has been helpful.
Although not the best, the tack is not the problem. He's acted up whether it's my saddle or one of Heather's, English or Western. He's been checked, so his back is fine -- it's me being mounted. He's acted up with me bareback too. He will try to take advantage of me every chance he gets under saddle. It's a dominance issue. Once we get the boundaries defined, he's GREAT, but it seems like I have to reestablish myself every time. Except today, of course.
As soon as I can possibly afford it, I'm upgrading my saddle, for sure. I'm test driving.

Chelsi said...

Cute pics Leah. Looks like Mr. Fry did a nice job on the round pen! Having spent the last year finding the good seat I use to have, I can really relate to the posting/sitting trot issue. Only one thing will help, time. Just trot, trot, trot girly and slowly the muscles will develop to help hold things in place while your mind goes else where. I hated that when I was focusing on my hands, my legs would fall apart, or if I was working on speed, I'd loose my diagonal! Whew! I had some sweaty days too!

Leah Fry said...

Our terrain is too varied to trot for more than a few dozen steps at a time, so the RP is my best option right now unless I head to Heather's and use their arena. I need to see if I can get one of the farmers to let me ride in one of their pastures.
Mr. Fry did the dirt work, but I had to scrimp and save for that RP and put it up too, so I have a little sweat equity in there as well.

Mrs. Mom said...

Hey Leah- question for you on your trot-
First: are you a jaw clencher, or a hand clencher? Either one or both of those will lock up your back, and prevent you from sitting and using your seat.

Second: B-R-E-A-T-H-E! ;)

Only other thought I came up with is to put the miles on- even at the walk, you are working on building up your core muscles, lower back, and developing a "feel" for where your horse and body are.

Keep working at it!

Leah Fry said...

I tend to tense my shoulders, which raises my hands up above where they should be. Maybe by the time I die I'll be a passable rider LOL! How ironic that I have all this to learn and I'm at an age when I CRS!

manymisadventures said...

Have you ever round-penned him a la Monty Roberts?

To me, many people oversimplify and glorify the technique, but there was many a time with my ornery TB gelding where I could completely turn around his attitude by round-penning him.

The biggest part is to realize that it's not about running them into the ground or making them tired. It's about getting them moving until they start looking for a way to come back to you, then join up, etc.

I don't think I've ever used it with McKinna, but it can be a really good bonding exercise as well as a way to stamp out the dominant behavior.

Leah Fry said...

Sounds great. So when are you going to come and show me how? I have a guest room...

manymisadventures said...

Next time I'm in Texas, I'll give you a call ;) Some family of mine live there, so it's not entirely unfeasible for it to happen sometime, though I don't visit them often.

Here's some things to tide you over --

The Man Who Listens to Horses
Monty's first book. I'd recommend that you check it out from a library: it covers a lot of training philosophy and is somewhat of an autobiography (if I remember correctly, as I read it several years ago). It's also only $8 on Amazon, so there you go.

Here is what they call a very practical, hands-on explanation of his training techniques. I personally haven't read this book, so I don't know if it's worth the higher price or if it's high quality or not. Perhaps I'll see if my library has it. If you can check it out from a library, though, nothing beats free and I'm willing to bet there's some really good information in there.

I also have a few DVDs of his -- the Join-Up series, which covers the basic thing I'm talking about -- that I could send you some copies of. It really helps to illustrate round-penning technique.

To be honest I haven't really explored deep into his training methods other than to use round-penning.

Read the first book at least, let me know if you want the dvds, and then we'll talk about this whole round-penning business ;)

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