Saturday, August 2, 2008

Can I get an order of coordination with a side of balance?

Today I want to talk about coordination and balance - two things that often seem to desert us as we age. I noticed this recently when the VLC was having a stubborn streak (I caaaaan't go forward with a bit in my mouth, I caaaaan't, I caaaaan't) and I really needed to carry a whip and/or smack him with the end of the reins.

Well, I felt like I needed three arms. If I reached back to whack him on the butt, it was like I simultaneously lost my balance and didn't know how to steer all at the same time. I'd whack him on the butt to move him out of the balk but then he'd veer toward the middle before I could gather my reins back up and react. Now, bear in mind this is a Quarter Horse who really has to be ridden "pitched away" - aka on a very long, loose rein. I cannot, as I would on a Thoroughbred, simply grab up my reins so that they are short and I have more control. (But then, a Thoroughbred would probably not be balking in the first place!) He does move off of leg - when he wants to. I need to fine-tune the moving off of leg part so that I can ride him the way he needs to be ridden (aka all leg/seat and no hands) but in the meantime, he just needs to keep going forward and deal with the fact there is a bit in his mouth. So I decided to just go back to the round pen and that actually worked great. I didn't worry about steering - I just worried about keeping our forward momentum. Once you get the forward, they pretty much have to go to the wall in the round pen. He still wants to put his head on the ground, but he really isn't making the fussy faces about the bit that he used to.

Yeah, yeah, I know. He needs his mane done big time. Anyway, I bet I'm not the only person having these balance/coordination issues so what have you done that has helped? I keep hearing yoga and want to try to start that when my schedule eases up. What else?
Then I did the first "real" ride on Bessie. I've been on her and she's eaten hay and ignored me but today we took her and the baby to the round pen and, with Stephanie as my ground person, we walked both ways and reversed. Bessie was fine, but we have established there is no response whatsoever to leg. None. I suspect her riding was limited to "follow the leader" trail rides, which I am pretty sure I could do with her tomorrow. She doesn't react at all to the saddle, cinching, flopping all over on her back, etc. But when it comes to the aids? She's clueless. The only way we got forward motion is Stephanie giving her a tug, or Stephanie beckoning to her..."come on Bessie, come here!" LOL.

We had a bit of a laugh about this - I remember Mugwump's blog about how, when she worked for the Big K, she was supposed to get on the first ride and lope off. We would all like to see someone get on Bessie and lope off. Josie said she would not bet money on my being able to make her trot. I think we are going to have to work on longeing to teach voice commands and get some fitness level on this mare. She's quite, um, well-fed, and had a sweat mark from the girth after 10 minutes of walking with a rider. :-)

See, this is why I think Thoroughbreds are easy. You always have "forward" with Thoroughbreds!


Jesse said...

He's so large it looks like you have barely any rein to smack with. I'd try a dressage whip, just twist your wrist and tap. You don't have to turn or readjust your reins at all.

Huntseatrider said...

I second the dressage whip, but can you use it as a "last resort" when he does not go off your leg? My trainer got after me BIG time for cueing my filly off a whip because I had no leg. Not my fault that man has Legs Of Steel! (btw, I updated my blog, the Artful Move filly one you commented on so long ago).

Anyway... yoga would be a very interesting thing to add. I do suppose it would help balance. But still, I would use the dressage whip. No twisting that could result in some some of accident.

I'm interested in what others have to say about this subject.

Huntseatrider said...

I will mention that the VLC is looking incredibly handsome. I forgot to mention that in my last post. =]

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone would dispute that a TB has a good gas pedal. I think it's the brakes that most people are worried about, lol.

As for getting Bessie to go, does she respond to a tap on the hiney from a whip or reins at all? I think it's Clinton Anderson who uses the "kiss, squeeze, spank" method and it seems to work for me on everyone except Gus (the colt who I am just now working with). If you find something else that works on her, let me know so I can try it with him! Could always try a pair of rather pointy spurs, but you might get more of a ride than you wanted, lol.

austriancurls said...

Dressage whip for one, center your seat for another. In both pictures you are riding too far forward, and again the knees are too high. I know you don't want to hear this, but by centering your seat and bringing your center of gravity into the right position and closer to the wither and center of the horse you will no longer loose your balance when you reach here or there on the horse. Your seat is wrong and this is the major problem.

To do that, have someone lunge you on an experienced horse bareback (with pad and a surcingle is better, you have something to grab if you feel off balance and the pad protects the horse. Work on straightening up your upper body and lowering your legs, work on bringing your shoulders back farther, no one in Western rides that far forward, their shoulders are back, legs down, they are sitting usually bolt-upright, in classical riding you sit with more sway-back and your shoulders over your hips, your shoulders are sometimes a little rounded in order to sway the back more and still retain the shoulders over the hips.

Do some reading on the proper seat. Training and riding is at LEAST 70% reading masters (I don't care if it is Jean Claude Dysli or Nuno). Get a trainer to work with you at least once a weak to correct your seat and hands.

No one is ever fully trained and doesn't need the use of a trainer. Even top trainers have other trainers work them for minor adjustments, or go to seminars and take part in REAL clinics to learn some new trick or tip.

Worst thing in my opinion is someone who thinks they can do it all themselves without assistance, because they cannot afford it or because they have the attitude that they don't need help. I'm not sure if that is your position on this or not, but whatever it is, get your seat sorted out and your confidence also by training properly under an experienced trainer.

austriancurls said...

weak = week

Kaisa said...

I've been meaning to ask about your seat. Of course, it's hard to analyze it just by looking at few pics, but it looks like there's something wrong with your back...?

I'm not bashing you, your seat is wonderful compared to my own :)
It just looks like your back is hurting and/or really stiff.

Jackie said...

This is so appropriate...I'm going to love the comments. Just had my hubby video me yesterday so I could see what was going on, etc.
My seat seems a lot like yours (but I do have a more "relaxed" back..don't know if that is good or not) and I have to bring my toes forward. I was wondering about lowering my stirrups...I am riding English but Dressage "Classic" style. Besides remembering to keep my legs back a tad, I was pretty pleased with how far I have come. PrimaDivaDonna now needs to start collecting on the bit...I gave her a year off to get over the "riding lesson horse don't touch my mouth" syndrome, but now it's time.

Secondly...GAG! I have to lose weight! I've been..slowly..and I know the camera is not kind, but YUCK! On the fast track now! My rescue mini and I have the same amount to lose, so together we will!

Oh, last winter I took swim aerobics...and that really helped with my balance. When you "jog" around the deep end of a pool, you are balanced and upright or go under :). They have a lot of other exercises, too...and you really have to be balanced to them in the deep end (I always challenge myself). I would have continued, but didn't get home until after 7 at night and I couldn't keep that up.

Karen V said...

ON Wednesday night, I tried a horse for a new friend in Canada. He was like Bessie...totally content to just stand there and do NOTHING except breathe.

I rode him for two hours and made one run on the barrels. I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to get him warmed up because he showed ZERO inclination to work. NONE! NADA! After 20 minutes, I was exhausted! I found that bumping him or kicking him had very little effect. He would move of my leg, a little...he'd alter his course maybe 6 inches.

I found that if I picked up the reins and kissed at him, as if I expected to charge off into a full out run, he'd jog. A nice little show jog. Lope? That took more work.

I ended up borrowing a dressage whip for motivation. It kind of worked. It didn't add any speed, just shortened the duration of MY work to get him moving.

This HAS to be one of the laziest horses I've EVER ridden! Mind you, I don't have any spurs. On my own horses, I don't need them.
I tried all the tricks, scooching my butt, kicking, dragging my heels up his sides, kissing, clucking, whopping with the whip. I'm STILL SORE!

When we entered the gate to make our run, I was suddenly on a different horse. He ran...not like the wind, but he did run! I totally surprised me and we didn't get rated for the first barrel, so it was a disaster, but the 2nd and the 3rd were decent and the boy RAN home. When I got him stopped, I had to go back to work to get him to jog back to the gate to clear the arena.

One thing abut him though...HE'S SAFE! Bad behavior takes too much energy!

a beautiful disaster said...

totally offtopic but if anyone has some good(humane) ways to train a horse to pick up their feet more over jumps? The silly little made is being super quiet (and very very brave about e every thing) but we now need to get her more careful...and poleing is clearly out of the question :)
thanks :)

amarygma said...

I like the Giam series of yoga with Rodney Yee. I took a yoga class but it was never as intense as that DVD. It'd be something you could do in your schedule, like evenings.

barngal said...

I know exactly where you're coming from needing the third hand! I have thought that many times as I fumble with a crop. I think I'm also going to try a dressage whip. BCG is real bucky with a tap of a crop so I have regained a lot of my seat. He has no forward at all and that seems to be our biggest goal. Ah, the good old days on a TB!!

I tend to ride more forward than I should but I guess thats from all the years riding green horses and not really worrying about how I look. Now, many years later as a rerider I still have the bad habits, but once again I have a green horse to worry about.

I think you and VLC look great!

amarygma said...

Also maybe reinforce the "go" command with spurs? Or an actual kick instead of squeeze?

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

>>It just looks like your back is hurting and/or really stiff.<<

Oh, my back is terrible as I have commented many times. That's why I was unable to resolve the issues with picking up his feet myself and had to get others to help. My farrier told me to just pick it up and not let, I suspect that would have put me in traction, LOL!

Huntseatrider, I like that your trainer won't let you use the whip as a crutch. I don't want to do that either, and I think people do fall into that trap of using the whip/spurs as a replacement for a strong leg.

Austriancurls, you don't seem to want to understand a different riding style than your own. I am actually riding too long for what they want to see in the hunters here, and if I go to a hunter/jumper trainer, they will shorten me by a hole or more. (I've taken lessons in the past year, and that's the first thing they did - pull me up two holes and crunch up my leg) If I were to go to an AQHA trainer, they'd say my stirrups were the correct length but I needed to bring my shoulders back - which I don't deny. I've stated many times that I lean forward and feel more comfortable that way and it's always been a hard thing for me to fix. We all have our flaws. Remember that I am the one posting pictures of myself. We have yet to see pictures of you on a horse.

Morte said...

Apparently you don't want to hear anything about your seat and the balance issue. But really and truly, thats it... thats how you fix the balance issue, is improving your seat.

For clarification... I am an AQHA style hunter rider, HUS, English and Western Pleasure.

Here is what I see. Yes, you need to sit with your shoulders back. This can be practiced by riding with a crop between your elbows, behind your back. Even walking around like this at home would help, and better posture in life, often helps some back problems out as you develop better back muscles.

You also appear to be 'perching' as my coach used to call it when I did it. You are sitting tilted forward slightly, with your weight on your pelvic area, rather than your behind. My coach used to tell me to pretend I was trying to sit on my back pockets. The style you appear to be riding in puts you at risk for falling off balance, or even putting your horse off balance. This is because your centre of gravity is slightly forward of the ideal.

Take it or leave it, thats just what I see, and my take at trying to help.

Huntseatrider said...

The more I hear about your stirrup length, the more I think of mine. I actually ride about a hole and a half longer, which has brought my upper body a bit further back. Then again, I have noticed my Leg Of Steel trainer leans forward when he rides, much further than you do. He also has a horrible back.

Like I was saying about a whip: Could you go to your leg for a cue, stronger cue, and then much stronger while reinforcing your cue with the whip? (apparently, I should not be writing at 2 am!)

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

Oh, Morte, I don't disagree at ALL about my back. My back has always been an issue, particularly since I wrenched it around age 15 going off into a wall. When I was showing equitation, I had a friend who would longe me with no reins so I could ride with my arms locked behind my back and straight up in the air until I got really straight. That helped a LOT. My argument with AC is with the stirrup length issue. The length that dressage/classical riders use is totally different than hunt seat and I'm not going to start riding long. I ride bareback quite a lot and feel secure bareback and/or without stirrups, so it's not that I use the stirrups as a crutch - but even bareback, I ride with a bent knee and my leg in the same position that you see here.

As to the back, yoga might help that too. I'm the first to admit that with the exception of stall cleaning, I'm currently pretty sedentary, with a desk job 7 days a week, so strengthening my core would absolutely help my riding.

fernvalley01 said...

Hi just my two cents, I think part of the issue people are commenting on regarding your seat is the fact that you are quite small the horse is enormous and the saddle looks a little large for you . Add to that you back problem and I am guessing very little time in your day to loosen up your low back it makes you "perch on the saddle" As far a reaching around to tap him on the butt what about just using a popper( more noise than sting) just behind you heel to reinforce your command this won"t change your seat position and might "wake him up for you" Regarding your seat, and your back issues there are some great exercises out there to release muscle tension and free up your low back so you can "Sit down " on your horse. Cant remember the author right now but "The Back Doctor" is one of the best, comes in paperback

Morte said...

Helping your back would really help the balance. If you can't get OUT to a gym, and have some extra cash (ok, you have horses, I know you must have most of your spare cash tied up there) ...

Get a wii. Get wii fit. Fun way to get some fitness, with goals, and games. Has yoga, strength training, etc.

I've read you don't like spurs... but what about motivator spurs? They just give a little boost? (see link for picture, I've only ever seen them around a few times, but they are much less harsh than even the nubby spurs)

Kaisa said...

>>Oh, my back is terrible as I have commented many times. That's why I was unable to resolve the issues with picking up his feet myself and had to get others to help. My farrier told me to just pick it up and not let, I suspect that would have put me in traction, LOL!<<

Good thing is that the VLC is so big and you are so tiny that you don't seem to disturb his balance at all, even if you lean forward a bit :)

Again, I'm judging just by few pictures, but the VLC seems really balanced and carries himself well.

I have some back/neck/leaning forwards -issues while riding too, expect that I'm really tall and my horse is really fast and small. Imagine the problems of that...

Stronger back muscles would definately be helpful. But, as I suppose you would know, it's impossible to exercise properly when your back hurts.

Kaisa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Morte said...

Eek. Um just search Spurs on Greenhawk site. They are first link (motivator spurs)

mugwump said...

Just a thought, I don't use spurs to create forward, ever. Spurs bring a horse up in my world, not forward. I know Mugs is safe from that one, she doesn't use them....
She's doing what I would, teaching the horse forward without worrying about direction.
As for her seat, mine could be dissected in many ways, the more I cow, the shorter my stirrups are getting.My posture is horrifying. I don't fall off though.

Jackie said...

I am willing to try anything and did try one hole longer this am...and I was deeper. But it took getting used felt like I had to search for my stirups...but suddenly it worked. I will have to up them a notch for jumping, but I worked on collecting today and I felt like I was deep in my saddle and less forward. I also prefer bareback, so this is much closer...for me. I got a picture, not won't post in until I can photoshop my ass, legs..hmm, arms, stomach LOL! Now to get my toes in more :) but I think that is from trying to get her forward by using my calves to push, but not necessarily the "correct" way.

SammieRockes said...

Ugh, I have no coorination with a whip what so ever. It just does not compute. Of course I've always had pretty uppity horses so I haven't really needed one. But I just CANT use one. like you, I lose my reins, I keep my balance though. This is why I love my 8 fooot reins. Not that I need them on my horse, but its helpful for the other horses

Dangerbunny said...

I don't know if anyone else mentioned this but I love teaching young horses to ground drive, it is easy to get the "go" if you are on the ground behind them with a dressage whip, with a mellow horse I would work more on teaching him to give to pressure from behind, I do like riding sensitive horses for a more built in "go" but you can teach him to respond from very light aids.

just my two cents :)

mulelisa said...

On the exercise question of this.... I just started doing cardio-kickboxing. I don't know yet how much it will improve my balance when riding but I have noticed that my balance when doing the kicks in class has gotten much, much better.

Shadow Rider said...

Morte, I think what you are seeing is the "I've ridden psychotic horses all my youth who may rear, bolt, or dodge sideways with no warning seat." I have the same seat, LOL! and I've fought for the last 15 years to correct it. I too, ride too forward, but then my first horse was a confirmed runaway who would rear and twist sideways at any moment. My seat developed out of my survival instinct. As for balance, etc. I have zip, nada. I have no natural balance, I have to fight to stay on the horse every moment. But, I can carry a whip. I never use spurs. I carry a dressage whip, and use it to reinforce the leg cue if I am being ignored. I never smack the butt unless we are going backwards at warp speed and in danger of something bad happening. It works though. I schooled a 17+ perch gelding a couple weeks ago, who would slow down, stall, and refuse to move. After 20 min of me insisting with leg, seat, weight, voice AND dressage whip that we move FORWARD when I ask, he got a clue. Not before his version of the blow up (a few draftie crow hops) but he figured it out, and it's never been an issue again. Even his new owner, a total novice can get him moving in a walk and trot.

You are braver than me, you won't see any photos of ME on horse back, I know I look like a hunchbacked gremlin.

Anonymous said...

Just a note:

QHs can be ridden on contact, they do NOT need to be ridden on a long rein or with the reins thrown away.

Granted, I'm on a hotter, reining-bred horse, but even at that, snaffle or curb, we're on contact. That said, he needs a lot more conditioning before you take up a shorter rein and start working on carriage.

Morte said...

>>Morte, I think what you are seeing is the "I've ridden psychotic horses all my youth who may rear, bolt, or dodge sideways with no warning seat."

Yeah. I had the same seat, for the same reasons... until my coach corrected it. With many lessons. Luckily, I was still really young when the correcting started. I also learned that the seat I developed to keep me on was more likely to get me tossed off, as being tipped forward makes you more likely to go... you guessed it, forward over the horses head, if they trip or throw a huge buck.

A whip or the reins worked... to get my horse's attention, it didn't help her move forward. But you could chase her around, cracking the lunge whip, even hitting her with it... no response. So was a lazy little Paint. :)

When I rode with spurs, I almost never needed to use them. She was smart, though. She was a horse that would test you every single time you got on, to make sure you were on your toes. For some horses, a whip once or twice, will get them paying attention, moving forward... Others need to know you've got something, all the time. Plus, in a big show, I can quietly and professionally use spurs, not so much reins or a whip. :)

It's all in the horse and rider. Spurs are no more evil than whips or reins, provided you know how to use them.

moosefied said...

Thanks for this topic. There are a lot of good ideas and instruction here.

I can't add much about the riding position, because mine is in great need of more lessons and will get them as soon as possible.

I do have back problems, though. Slow yoga is really helpful, and so are (YUCK) crunches. Crunches strengthen the ab muscles and body core so the back automatically has more support. And losing about 10 pounds would help me, but FHOTD does not need that.

AlphaMare said...

Speaking of being "well-fed" -- in these photos, the VLC seems to be losing his athletic figger....

Jackie said...

HaHaHa Alphamare...I looked at him, and was wondering, since he has the same figure as my mare, who I was informed needed a diet because you can't find her ribs too easily (much like mine). My thoughts were that if he looks like that and is okay, so is my mare :)

FD said...

K. Fugs, as a grown up, and as a pro/semi pro, frankly you've probably forgotten more than I know, so I'm going to bypass the seat thing. Besides, I'd think it bloody cheeky to comment seeing as I know zip about your disciplines / history and you haven't asked me to.

What I do have is two suggestions.
1. Try the dressage whip, or if you can lay your hands on one, a piaffe whip preferably; that should give you the reach without disturbing your upper body. The movement to effectively use it is sorta twisting the bottom edge of your hand toward your body, which sets up a ripple along the whip, resulting in the end bopping him.
2. Once you feel you've reliably got basic stop, start, and his attention, get him out of that bloody round pen, and start riding him. I know that's odd coming from a mainly dressage / event person, but I believe there's nothing better for getting a horse going forward than riding out in the open.

I have a few exercises that might help a little if you want to hear them - I fractured my pelvis and fused my left sacroilliac at 17, so I have sympathy.

mulerider said...

First, I think all this badgering of FHOTD about her seat/form is irrelevant to the question of how to get the VLC moving forward when juggling the reins and a whip makes you feel like you need 3 arms. Yeah, sure, we should all aspire to achieving the perfect form, but for one thing, "perfect" means different things to different people, and for another, you don't have to be "perfect" to successfully train a horse. The list of successful horse trainers is a lot longer than the list of successful horse trainers with perfect form.

With respect to getting a horse moving forward freely, I do the same thing you did, FHOTD. I work in an arena or round pen and concentrate on moving forward at the desired gait and speed. If the horse wanders all over the arena while doing it, fine. Then, once forward is achieved, add steering.

With respect to form, one thing I've noticed as a rerider is that instead of leaning too far forward, which I tended to do in my younger days, now I tend to push back into the good old chair seat, with my feet out in front of me. I think it's some kind of subconscious desire to keep myself braced against the spook-and-spin. Riding without stirrups in the round pen seems to help, as I feel safe there and being stirrup-less I have nothing to push back against.

Snoopsincharge said...

I for one agree with fugs, she is riding in an english saddle and her knee isn't anywhere close to where it should be for hunters or jumpers. It's at least a hole too short for hunters, more for jumpers.
I can see you have a nice balanced seat and strong secure legs, maybe too strong and it's dulling him a little? Could be.
But I really think what you need to do is sensitize him to your leg. That means if you ask forward and he doesn't want to, you have to get after him. I think he's rather like my Andalusian, who doesn't really like to waste any energy unless it has to do with food. He's also very much what I call a "habbit" horse. If I let him drag his feet, he will and will resist and get even lazier if I try to get him moving only every now and then. If I want him to be forward and light, I have to be very consistant with him in establishing a work ethic may it be on the lunge line, in the roundpen or under saddle. Whenever we work, it means we WORK, not drag our feet. Then he can be quite forward and energetic on a regular basis.
If the dressage whips are still too stiff for what you need, try a short driving whip. They are even a tick longer and usually have a very flexible body with a short tassle. So all you have to do is hit your thigh lightly with the shaft and the flexible end and tassle will swing at his hind and you don't have to bring your wrist out that far away from your body, so you truly can do it while riding with both reins.
Ask a clear aid with your legs, and if you don't get a nice forward response within a split second, get after him with the whip, enough to wake him up and send him forward, but just not quite enough to make him angry. If you are consistant, it should only take a few times for him to learn the lesson and be lighter of your leg, but you have to get after him whenever he is NOT listening or not listening quick enough. You HAVE to be consistant.
You will achieve more with an occasional good smack of the whip then with a consistant nagging tapping, which only dulls them out to the wip. After all, you want to be able to ride without a wip on a regular basis, so you don't want to have it turn into a crutch. If you need to use it, you should be clear about it being a slight "punishment", not a "pet on the neck". Yes, the wip is supposed to be your extended arm, but in this case the extented arm is not petting the horse, it's smacking it on the ass for a reminder of yielding to your leg aids. lol

mlks said...

Ditto on the dressage whip. We carry one at all times on all our horses. Don't think I actually use it more than once every third ride, but it's THERE. Also, the more you carry it, the less awkward it feels.

I've mostly been on TBs/TB-crosses lately, so yeah...finding the gas on a green isn't usually an issue after the first 3-4 balance-figuring-out rides.

Normally I'd suggest having yourself ponied while on the VLC, if you have access to a good ponying horse/rider combo, so that the other horse can establish the pace, but that's made exponentially more complicated by the VLC's intact balls. Hm.

Is your ground person one that the VLC tunes into? Sometimes it can be helpful to have the "move forward NOW!!" command coming from the ground.

JustMyStyle said...

first, I really don't see any issue with your position. I don't see how it could have anything to do with getting the VLC forward either. The only thing I noticed is that your left rein is shorter in both pictures; for some reason the left arm is usually dominate for most riders.

I don't understand the AQHA thing at all, just doesn't make sense to me coming from a Morgan background (just slightly opposites!) but you both seem to be having a great time!

Char said...

As for me, I wear spurs. I HATE carrying a whip for the exact reasons that you stated in your post.

As for the whole seat/posture thing, my QH is very sensitive in his back. I find that where I'm carrying myself can have a major impact on the pace/mindset of our ride.

Of course, my horse tends to get a little hot when I ride with a forward seat, since he associates that with jumping.

IDK, use whatever extension of your leg aid he will respond to, maybe start trying different things and see what works.

I've found that a tennis shoe with a hard, less-squishy heel is sometimes all it takes to get them to listen to it. :)

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

Alphamare - the thing is, he actually can get ribby really easy! I know he looks plenty well fed in those pics but he has a HUGE barrel and I have to keep the alfalfa flowing to keep the ribs from showing. :-)

>>Normally I'd suggest having yourself ponied while on the VLC, if you have access to a good ponying horse/rider combo, so that the other horse can establish the pace, but that's made exponentially more complicated by the VLC's intact balls. Hm.<<

He would pony fine off a good gelding. Unfortunately I neither have a good gelding here nor a friend who is strong enough and experienced enough to pony him safely. This is when I wish I was back at a polo barn. I am a HUGE fan of ponying as well - you can go in long, straight lines, at whatever speed you need - great way to fit them up with as little stress on their legs as possible.

We have been ground driving, too! Unfortunately I don't think I am fit enough to ground drive at a trot for very long, ROTFL.

WalkinTall011 said...

Just a quick note, so feel free to disregard it if you like, =) : I have been a reader of FHOTD for a loong time, and of this blog since it started but just recently got a Blogger account... so therefore no comments until now. Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your blog(s) and the education you give others. =)

I agree with the many others that have suggested using a dressage whip, if the round pen schooling doesn't help (and it will... the VLC is quite smart. I'll bet he'll figure it out soon enough ;) ). [I'm sure you know this, but] They are much easier to handle, especially when training a young horse, in which case you have many other things to worry about. I find it's best to train the young horse in the 'easiest' way than to try to learn/regain a certain skill that may therefore jeopardize my horse's training. And there's always the option of finding a long stick on the ground if you can't locate a dressage whip. =)

Also, I know you have better things to do than answer my silly questions, but what brand/model of saddle is it that you are using on the VLC [in the pics]? Thanks!

- Abby

mlks said...

I really, really want to learn how to ground drive. No one in my area is good with it, though. So longing, ponying, and other in-hand work is it for me.

Jeez, though...ground driving for long distances at the trot. Aside from the obvious huffing-and-puffing issues, god forbid you trip...HEE. (Having a fun little mental-imaging vacation here, don't mind me.)

horsesense102 said...

Something just doesn't add up here. FUGLY has talked numerous times about how she spent so much time in the polo world, training and exercising horses and ponying 4 or more at a time. Yet she can't coordinate 1 set of reins and a crop/whip???? It's a lot more difficult to pony 2 or more horses than carry a crop. I worked at a polo barn more than 30 years ago and I can say that it takes a lot more coordination to pony 4 horses than to hold a crop. I just don't get it.

What I read is more excuses and whining. There is so much whine on this blog that I've started bringing a giant wheel of cheese to the computer when I pop over to see what's up in the Fugly world.

If you read back through some of the blogs, Fugly always has an excuse as to why she can't do something when experienced people offer numerous suggestions - now she's seized on the pain excuse. When people try to be helpful and give some good advice (bad seat, for instance), she gets way over defensive, attacks that person and then the groupies attack and make more excuses for Fugly. As another person pointed out, a good seat and balance makes all the difference in allowing a horse to move forward freely. That crotch riding is giving the horse mixed signals, and is probably helping to cause Fugly back and knee pain - she says when she rides bareback her knees come up which is a further sign of unbalanced riding (clutching with the knees, leaning forward, arching lower back).

So no big deal, plenty of riders have this problem and it's easily solved by becoming aware and letting go of stubborn ego and actually working on the issue instead of making more excuses. For gosh sakes, look at some dvd's, read some books, go audit some clinics, go to some free demonstrations at horse expos. If you don't have time and money to do any of the above, there's plenty of free info - pictures and videos right here on the internet to help a person learn how to improve seat and balance.

Your horse will thank you if you take some time to learn instead of spending most of your time blogging on the internet. Good thing you actually don't spend much time riding the VLC before sending him off to a trainer because the trainer will just have to spend twice as much time undoing all the poor foundation work, starting over from the beginning and filling in all the holes. There's nothing wrong with training the horse yourself, but if you're going to do that, for heaven's sake, at least stop being so stubborn and take some time to learn some things. Your ego is doing nothing but stifling the potential of your horse - or any horse that you work with.

June Evers said...


In regards to a non-Tb not going forward, I've ridden with two dressage whips before so you're not juggling them from left to right as you change diagonals.

And, second fd for getting a slightly longer dressage whip but it should not be as heavy as a driving whip. Those whips can be ungainly and then you're fumbling just as much.

SakiBasenji said...

You know, I had this reeeally lazy TB (I know! Weird) who would not move off my leg. He ran 7 years without an injury, just got too slow. And so he didn't care if you smacked him with a crop - he was like, Yeah, I've been through worse! I ended up riding him with TWO dressage whips... Strange? Yup. But a little tickle or tap on whichever side he needed it (sometimes both) sent this boy forward nicely and got him listening to my leg. Soon we could go with one whip, then on good days we didn't need it at all. Two whips is easy - you get used to having them and they don't interfere with the reins or your balance. And having one on either side prevents awkward side-switching. Give it a try!