Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More trail riding!

I was running late Monday, and it was soooo hot I decided not to do serious training with Amber again. Besides, trail rides are a gentle, fun way to condition an out of shape horse anyway. She still gets her work. She tracks up on trail rides anyway - she gets so excited about it. She really loves it.

I took my non-horsey friend along. I gave her a pony ride on Amber, and then she waited patiently for me while I took Amber on a trail ride. Almost everyone at the barn went! Amber was the lead horse, but Emma's pony (ridden by older Hannah), this 12hh little Welsh, was competing with her for top spot. Amber didn't mind him, even when he bit her on the butt! Hannah was like, "I'm glad she's being so tolerant of him, or I'd probably get kicked!"

It was a fun ride. A little trotting, lots of adventuring. There were 7 horses in all.

I mounted up a couple of minutes before everyone else and trotted and cantered Amber in the big area behind the barn. Avoiding contact, but no bucking and not quite as rushed as she has been in the open. Just practice is all we need I think.

Found her flymask...requested that it be taken off before she's turned out. It was only $10, it's not the best mask, but it keeps the flies off her face in her stall, and it's not like they are abundant at night. I'd just rather it not be lost in the field again...

On another topic, I've been doing a lot of thinking about Amber's training lately. Bob...he's good. He knows what he's talking about, and I respect his opinion but he takes a pretty aggressive approach with the horses. While his "popping" method works, I'm not sure I want to use it as rough as he has suggested. I just feel like it's doing the opposite of what needs to be done for Amber. I need to offer her an inviting contact. Yeah, I do need to be tougher on her, and I do need to get after her when she's avoiding contact, but I have to remember WHY she avoids contact. She's had mouth snatchers in her face before. I think the method might have worked on Jack, because he was always just being stubborn, he wasn't skeptical of contact because of an unpleasant experience. But with Amber, I want her to LEARN that my contact is a welcoming thing.

I feel like horses don't learn as well if they are stressed and POed. Getting in their face when they are just being lazy/stubborn is one thing. A little moment of pissed and then an "Okay, fine". But going around constantly irritated and mad? No learning there.

I can't keep letting up on her and making excuses why she shouldn't have to do this, or shouldn't have to do that, "because she doesn't want to". What the hell is that anyway? I never even considered that with Jack. He didn't want to, I got in his face about it (not literally of course! Leg and seat!). But perhaps just using the same action with my hands, without as much "snap" to it. And watch my position more. And use more seat and leg. When she's just being lazy, running out through her shoulder and wanting to pull all over the place...DRIVE her forward and block the shoulder, block her head from trying to pull us where ever she's trying to go that I didn't ask for. Keep her BUSY in our work.

Bob also thinks that we need to work on bending to the left. She's only dragging one of the hinds now, and he believes it's due to the fact that she's much more built up on the right side. Thus, we shall be working on evening things out.

Hoping to get in a really early ride tomorrow. I really want to put in some arena work, but the heat is sickening...and it's worse in the evenings than early morning!


  1. How nice to have a good trail ride with the group. And you are right, it is a good way to get Amber more fit.

    As noted in a previous comment, you are right about the "popping." You need to work from contact into contact, getting stronger when she resists and getting softer when she "gives." You'll figure it out, I'm sure.

  2. Yeahhh. Bob's theory isn't incorrect, I can think of more than one horse who might actually NEED that harshness to get the message. Pumpkin, this LARGE haflinger mare, is sooo strong and heavy in your hands, and nose stuck out like it's set in concrete...yeah, teaching her softness will require someone really getting in her face because she's oblivious to a soft hand. But Amber is so aware of her rider's hands and position. You really have to ride Amber 100% all the time because she will show where her rider is off. If you're too heavy, she's too far up. If you're too low, she's got her nose in the dirt or she's counterbent. If you're sitting too far forward, she starts cantering. If you sit too deep, she transitions down or stops. If you have too much leg, she leg yields. She wants to please, you just have to make sure you aren't telling her something that you don't mean to.

    It's pretty wonderful that I can control her speed with my seat though. That's all it takes, I just have to remember to utilize that to the fullest and use it to get her up in my hands and her hind end working up under her.