Monday, August 18, 2008

Pushing the Envelope

We've been reveling in significantly cooler temps in the low to mid 80s these last few days. We've had close to 2.5 inches of rain, and although it's been humid, it's a far cry from 108! As I write this, a very light rain is falling and the horses are grazing a few feet outside my window.

I got outside at about 10am yesterday morning and walked out to check the footing in the round pen. I love it -- although wet, the water had drained well, leaving the sand clumpy, but not at all slick. I tacked Jaz up and we worked on the basics again ... on me, that is. I did a lot more trotting, alternating from posting to trying to sit through it. No cigar, I'm afraid.

I tacked Poco up and took him out to the round pen, and once again, he was as close to perfectly behaved as he ever is. His trot is much smoother than Jaz's, so I did better on him. Poco has a lot of GO, and he'll sustain a trot and not peter out, as Jaz sometimes does, so I got quite a workout. I had a few moments of near grace, but mostly, I was just bad poetry in motion. And I was shaking from all that posting.

You might remember the last time we rode, we were fine in the round pen, but Poco was a little much to handle as soon as we stepped outside to head back to tack down. I decided to do it again -- ride him back across the dry creek bed to the hitching post. He took one step outside that round pen and I could tell he was fixin' to take off, so I tightened up on the reins. Keep in mind, I'm using a Dr. Cook's Bitless Bridle. I was absolutely determined that we were going to do a little walkabout and that I would remain in control. We did and I did, but let me tell you, I was standing completely upright in the stirrups and holding him with all my might. He was throwing his head, balking. There was a time when I'd have gone for a minor win, played it safe and called it good. But it was a good day to die! I made him do several turns around the front half of the property and held him to a super contained trot. I'm going to see how he does next time. If I have to, I'll go back to a bit with him. Man, my shoulders ache today!

This is the way it is with him and me. He'll find a way to mess with me until I figure out how to get the better of him. Then he'll think of something else for next time. He always pushes me to a point beyond what I previously thought I could handle. It really is all about confidence. As long as I keep my head, relax and don't allow anything he does to intimidate me, we do fine. I just can't ever let my guard down with him.

My mom always told me she hoped I'd have a kid just like me when I grew up. I lucked out with my only son, but I think Poco is my kid just like me. He's giving me a run for my money, that's for sure!


LatigoLiz said...

Look into doing lots of tight serpentines, and I mean TIGHT, until you have some lateral flexion working for you. If you don’t have any of Buck Brannaman’s tapes, look into getting some, or get to a clinic of his in your area (probably have to be in 2009). I am pretty sure you will like what he has to offer. You need that forward, but you need it to go where you want and how you want. Hang in there, it will come.

Leah Fry said...

Thanks, Liz. I had the presence of mind to at least remember to TRY releasing him when I felt any give at all, but as soon as I did, he'd just use it. Heather had me working serpentines with him last time I was up there and I plumb forgot. Thanks for the news I can use!

CindyDianne said...

Hi Leah, I am sure there is a good reason for it - but why are you using Dr. Cook's Bitless Bridle?

I always start my riding sessions with tight circles. It stretches the horse, reminds him what we are there for and causes him to pay attention.

Isn't the weather glorious?

sidetracked said...

Wow, sounded like things could have gotten hairy there but you remained in control for the most part. The more you work on your seat and balance and control the better the horse will be in and out of the arena. What I did with my horse when I first got him was doing a lot of in hand walking. We would go trucking through the woods or down the road and everything else. I wanted to get him used to all types of stimuli and have it be normalized for him with me in his presence. PLus I really wanted to stablish that partner ship with him and that working together is a good thing. Now Possum isn't a spooky horse by nature so thr transition from foot to undersaddle was great. But keeping the herd boss status is sometimes tougher on the horse when they know that they can have a little more control. Keep working at it and it'll come.

Leah Fry said...

Cindy, I bought the bitless bridle out of frustration awhile back and both horses really took to it. You can read about it in a July post called "Not One Bit." I probably have 3-4 mild to moderate snaffles. I may go back to one if he keeps this up.

We had been working in the RP and had been doing spirals in and out. He was great until we got out. He's just testing me again, no big shakes :-)

I am loving this gentle, steady, soaking rain.

Molly, we do a lot of bonding type stuff, too. Because Poco tends to be so pushy, in hand work is a good reminder to him.

Thank you all for the great advice. I appreciate it and will keep you posted (pun intended!)

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