Monday, March 19, 2012

Update Part Deux

Another little known fact about me: I took French for five years. Five years! What do I remember from that time? Not much. Cheval (horse). Cheveux (hair). Jus d'orange (orange juice). Bow down to my superiority.


My lesson was on Friday. Truth be told, I went in with pretty low expectations. I was hoping BO would be able to point out some mistakes and throw a few suggestions out for us to work on. Instead, in one hour, she had completely fixed us. "Don't be such a fool!" you say. "You can't fix problems in an hour! She's not a Parelli!" (lol.) Well of course we're not just miraculously cured, you guys. Basically, she pinpointed that our biggest issue is Bobby resisting any form of contact unless it's him pulling me and in return me pulling him.

Now when I explain the extreme intricties of what we over, keep in mind I haven't taken a lesson since I was in college five years ago. Clearly my riding retention is as good as my French.

Primero (sorry, I couldn't even remember how to say "first") : Bobby's first lesson was that when I put pressure on the reins he can get as pissy as he wants and back up as far as he wants, but until he yields to it, it's not going away. My first lesson was not to get frustrated with him and either a) start pulling or b) just give up and throw the reins away. All I did was gather my reins so I had a feel for his mouth and then I set my hands into his shoulders so he couldn't pull me. As soon as he gave a smidgum of release, I did the same. He picked it up really, really fast and was quite pleased with how much he was getting fawned over by BO and I.

There were four steps we had to accomplish before we could move on to the walk. (We spent the first fifteen minutes at the halt.) 1) Drop the head down. 2) Stretch the head and neck all the way down to the ground. 3) Yield to pressure to each side by bringing the head and neck around to my foot. 4) Move the hindquarters over when bringing the head around. Basically, all we were trying to teach him to do was give to pressure from the bit without throwing his head in the air, flying backwards, or grinding his teeth and he'll be rewarded by having the pressure taken away. He liked this game and all the pats that followed when he did something right.

Seconde (oui?), we brought this all together at the walk on a big circle. I liked this whole private lesson thing. BO was out in the middle of the ring with me, walking along and quick to come up to help if I needed it. This is a person that won't budge from her booth when teaching a jumping lesson and a pole comes down. I started off a little hesitant with my hands. BO scolded me and and told me I wasn't making him uncomfortable enough and all I was telling him was that, "Here, my connection with your mouth isn't that bad. You can ignore me when I hold your mouth like this." What he needed was, "I'm asking you to yield to the pressure in your mouth. It doesn't feel good when I'm doing this, but doesn't it feel great when I give to you like this?"

Once we conquered that, she had me turn him with the same method as what we were doing at the halt and then stop him. She gave the instructions to "Drive your seat into your hands" to halt which really helped give me a good visual. I then had to keep the pressure on the reins when he stopped until he'd dropped his head again. Usually, when I halt, I give up any connection and his head comes right back up. This was harder for me to learn than him because he was ready to give to the pressure--I just had to remember to ask him to.

Finally, after thirty minutes of walking, we got to do about ten minutes of trot work. Same old thing. BO had to tell me a few times to pull my left shoulder (the bad one) back and of course that helped Bobby out, too. Bobby had caught right on by this point and was going around like a champion. BO kept interrupting herself to say things like, "Carly, look at yourself in the mirror! This is gorgeous! This is a different horse!" Well, yes, because now he's being ridden semi-correctly.

We quit when BO yelled out, "YES! THIS IS IT!" Bobby's head was down, his jaw was relaxed, and his mile-long back was up. He felt so big and loose and powerful and just so easy. We halted, got him to give, and he looked right over at BO with a big horsey grin like, "I iz the smartest horse ever, isn't I??" Or maybe it was more, "Thank you for teaching this pulling monkey on my back how to ride!"

I hacked him out a little just to let him take a mental breather. He'd worked almost all at the walk, but he was sweaty and blowing. Mental games are hard, too!

Best part of the whole thing? It was free! She didn't charge me as a thank you for working with Jade and Spyder. Woo hoo!

sarah and memphis.
Saturday, Sarah and I went for a three hour trail ride. All we did was walk, but there is almost zero flat ground so the boys put in big efforts. This was Memphis's first trail ride probably ever and he was a little worried about the great outdoors after showing on the A circuit for his whole life, but apart from spooking at a hawk taking off from a tree beside him, he behaved himself most admirably.

That is until we got to the water. It was just a tiny creek but the ponies had to go down a tiny bank to get into it. Bobby jumped it headed out, then played in the water for awhile on our way back before hopping back up it. Memphis was quite certain he shouldn't have anything to do with water unless it's in his bucket or a wash stall.

"mom, you cannot be serious!"
He eventually followed Sarah in, but on the way back it was the same battle. Only this time, he was headed home--somewhere he really wanted to be. He stuck a toe in the water, eyed up the bank, decided it was definitely jumpable from where he was, and launched himself across the creek. Well, he didn't win lots of pretty things for no reason!

Both boys got baths when we were done then we turned them out on real grass for fifteen minutes while they dried out. Bobby got yesterday off because I was in NY for most of the day, and he's getting today off because my car went in for exploratory surgery. Chiro tomorrow and probably the rest of the week off from riding.


  1. Excellent lesson. Nothing like a set of eyes on the ground to get you back on track.

    My sympathies on the surgery. Hope things are not as bad as they seem with the poor car.

  2. I sometimes think mental lessons are harder then working lessons.

  3. I grew up in Canada, and had to take french from 3rd grade up until 7th grade. I know how to introduce myself in french, ask if you speak french, and sing you happy birthday. Dont' act like you are not impressed.
    I lived in Sweden for a year as an exchange student after high school. I can order a beer in Swedish and that's about it. Gotta learn the essentials right?

    Anyways Sounds like you had a good lesson and a good trail ride!

    1. I am totally impressed. I don't think I EVER learned how to sing Happy Birthday!

    2. lol. Usually I like to just learn the bad words but they weren't keen on teaching little kids how to swear. I'm really not sure why...


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