Friday, January 2, 2009

Click!

Just came in from having a great session with Sly. This was #3 and today it all clicked. She figured out that I wanted her to keep going in a circle and resisted the urge to stop and fly backward just because she was on the "open" ends (some of you may recall that our home arena is divided by a fence in the middle, so it's like having a round pen on two sides of your longeing circle and open on the other two sides - otherwise known as "temptation" for green horses who think they might want to go somewhere other than a nice round circle!) She walked on the longe today without trying to break into a jog. She jogged when asked, without any of the jumpiness and snorting that had characterized longeing sessions #1 and #2. In fact, she didn't even snort once.

I did have another horse tied in the arena today. I noticed that Sly gets very distracted and upset when she's alone, and the other filly needed a tying lesson anyway, so we brought her in. Sly was definitely more able to focus on work with another horse in sight. We have about a half-dozen Thoroughbred mares who could use patience lessons, so we'll just call this "killing two birds with one stone." Yes, horses need to learn to work alone, but they also need to learn to work with other horses around so I don't really care which they learn first and, actually, having to ignore a Thoroughbred filly having a hissy fit and pulling back is probably a good learning experience. (She is a smart filly. She only did it once; when it did not work, she abandoned the idea.)

We also worked on "ho." This mare knows to stop when you give a sharp pull on the longe but there's no voice command associated with that. If you don't pull, you could ho-ho-ho like Santa Claus and get no response. I want a verbal "ho" installed on a horse. I want a "ho" that means, you slide stop and plant your feet no matter what - even if the headstall broke, even if you are really scared, even if you are pretty sure you do want to jump off that cliff in front of you. I want emergency brakes that work pretty darn reliably, so I am working on installing them now!

This reminds me of a funny story. The first time I ever went to a real hunter horseshow, after growing up at a polo barn, I thought the horses were just terribly mannered and I couldn't understand why they were winning. The reason? They all took so long to stop! I had grown up on horses who slide-stopped on "ho" or when you drove your seat into the saddle and squeezed with your thighs. I couldn't imagine why it would take a horse several steps to stop cantering (or to start cantering, for that matter). I had never ridden a horse who lugged on the bit and slowly ground to a halt. They all looked barely green-broke to me. Ha ha, culture shock!

Who else had a major "WTF" experience the first time they saw a riding style very different from what they were raised with? What looked weird to you (or still looks weird?)

27 comments:

Ellie said...

While my Mom and my trainer Andre are horse showing at Thermal this winter I am taking Dressage lessons. When we bought my horse Werther, he was a big eq medal horse, and they said he had a Dressage background. We found a trainer, and had her do an evaluation ride to see what Werther's skill level is, and it turns out he was at least trained to fourth level (he even did tempi changes for her!). I took my first dressage lesson on Tuesday and coming from a hunter background, the hardest thing is the amount of contact, especially at the upward transition, I automatically want to give with my hand instead of maintaining a feel.

Ellie and Werther Blog

verylargecolt said...

Wow, what a nice surprise about Werther knowing that much...really makes him a versatile horse!

Ellie said...

He is a really smart horse. The people we got him from over showed him point chasing in the medal classes and he was a little ring sour, so I took him out on a lot of trail rides this summer. He's gotten over that and it is really nice to see him so excited about going to work.

clara said...

i came from a "rescue" aka guy would take old broken down horses that needed to be retired and made them into lesson horses until they died. he believed bits were evil so we rode in hackamores with insane horses that were green broke (and he would put five year olds on these horses) and we didn't ride with sturrips. so when i finally left and went to a real barn it was really wierd to see people ride with sturrips and bits. oh and at the "rescue" place we would take turns cantering and stuff so horse traffic in the arena was very hard to get used to lol. you need to do a post on this place the horses never get vet care and the guy who owns it is insane. he works his horses until they can't work anymore and thirteen year olds were the trainers and instructors

Leah Fry said...

The first show I ever attended was an all-round show with both English and Western classes. I was very young and I thought posting was the weirdest thing I'd ever seen.

Deer Run Stables said...

Sly sounds like a fun little horse! Re: working alone vs with other horses, I think you're exactly right-- there will come a time when being with you, the rider, will be as good as being with another horse, but it's harder to get to that point when all of her time with you is spent in a state of panic or upset because of the lack of horse-buddies.

As far as riding styles that look weird, every time I see a class of AQHA/APHA style western pleasure horses plodding around on their forehands with blank, introverted eyes, it makes me want to vomit.

LuvMyTBs said...

Ha Ha Ha...I managed a race/breeding/training facility outside of Tulsa Okla.One of the owners was an avid polo player.I am very hunter/flatwork/dressage oriented.Polo owner guy watches me working my own horses and jumping over an outside course.He asks me if I can teach him how to jump.In return he began to teach me polo basics (stick and ball skills).The first time I got on one of his ponies she damn near blew my doors off!!I had never ridden a horse so full tilt fast and agile and she was to polo like my bombproof fox hunters were for new hunt riders.I was merely a passenger and she knew how to do her job and just put up with me!!

I also got very skilled at ponying 5-6 at a time where at the track the most I ever did was 2.I learned alot at that farm.

Serendipity said...

The first time I saw a saddle seat rider was a couple years ago in an English class at an open show. I'm from a h/j background, and it looked like she was sitting way too far back on only a flat strip of leather, posting way too high and fast for an equitation class, and her horse was barreling around the ring with his legs going in all directions. I just stood and gaped for a couple minutes until I realized it was a different discipline instead of an ungainly rider on an epileptic horse.

FD said...

Oh, *wry* that would be the first time I sat on a proper dressage horse.

I was oh, 14, and had been getting paid to ride horrible pos ponies & occasional horses for a while. As such, while I could sit most anything, my mad riding skillz, they lacked a little, um finesse, shall we say?

A friend of a friend asked me if I'd like to try riding her horse, who was as she knew fairly tolerant. (She wasn't trying to get me killed or anything!)

So, I got up on the 16.3 DutchWB, PSG dressage horse, and we were off. Walk was ok. We moved into trot, and that was it.
I could neither sit nor rise properly to it, and the gears, they were not where I thought they were. We just powered around that arena in extended trot with bits of passage thrown in and occasional bouncing bits of canter and me flailing like an idiot.
I was utterly out of control and I just remember feeling SO humiliated, "OMG, I actually can't RIDE at all."
Owner meanwhile, was killing herself laughing.

Stelladorro said...

I've been lucky and have been exposed to and gotten to ride loads of different diciplines. But the one thing I was really never exposed to was polo. We had the Kansas City polo team come in and give a demo one night of our big local youth show, and then they let us get on their horses and ride around and try to actually hit the ball. I remember scoffing in the stands at several of the riders because of their position, but once I got on some of those horses, I was just ridiculously impressed that that could not only ride them with one hand, but at the same time wack a ball down to the other end!

brat_and_a_half said...

I once put a friend of mine (dutch, and was a dressage princess) on an appaloosa i rode last year that had a killer, 'ho' stop. She had never ridden western and was giggling about the fact that he was jogging and just doing it. So as she jogged by, I said 'ho' and he stopped and she almost landed on his neck, hehee. He was pretty good with that, awsome horse to take in horsemanship; all else failed, we usually had the best halt in the class lol.

brat_and_a_half said...

@Leah fry- lol the first time I ever went riding I was 13 and it was a trail ride (didn't have any prior instruction). My horse kept trotting to catch up, and by the end of the ride I had figured out how to post. I was pretty sure at the time I was a genius and had invented it haha.

Bren said...

Every time I see GP level dressage horses looking terrified, being strangled by their riders and spooking at the smallest sound/sight, it makes me wonder, 'THIS is the highest form of training??'

The reality is, I can understand and actually appreciate all forms of riding, and know there's bad examples of ALL of it, EVERYWHERE. Therefore, I hope people like Deer Run will someday learn this, and realize they're throwing stones from a glass house.

mugwump said...

The first time I rode a finished cutter trained by an old-timey trainer. The thing didn't back, barely turned and seemed stiff as a board. Give his face? HA!
Then I rode him in the herd. We sorted our cow I put my hand down and you could almost feel him say, "Ah, she's finally out of my way." It was a beautiful ride. I learned we can never think we know what's right for every horse, just the one we're on today.

Elly said...

Riding a high-goal polo mare (retired, but only been off the pitch for 6 weeks!) - learnt very painfully and quickly how to stop without using reins :)

And whenI was a passenger on a cutting horse - spent the whole time with my eyes closed and trying to not hinder the horse. Beats any roller-coaster ride I've ben on :)

Drillrider said...

The first time I saw the western show lope, I thought the horses were all lame! I can't stand the low, low, low headset and the canter that is so painfully slow! It looks uncomfortable for the horse and if their expressions are anything to go by, no FUN for them AT ALL! I also HATE the "jerking" on their mouths to get them to do it. I'd like to rip them off their horses, put a bit in the rider's mouth and start jerking on the reins and see how they like it!

Laura Crum said...

I have to second mugwump here. I had a background of riding reining horses and went to work for a cutting horse trainer who trained them the old fashioned "Texas" way. He sent me out to gather the cattle on a gelding he said was a gentle older horse. Well, he was gentle enough, but you could hardly turn him around in a twenty acre field. You could not open and close a gate from his back. Compared to the horses I was used to riding, he felt like a stiff ill-broke plug. Give his face? See mugwump's comment. Once the cattle were in the pen the trainer got on him and cut a cow. I couldn't believe it. The horse was amazing (and had won a lot). Years later I saw his name at the top of the open division in California. I learned a lot riding for those cutters, and the lesson in how to leave a horse alone and not constantly dink with him stayed with me. Their horses could lope in any lead, do whatever they pretty much pleased, until they walked into the herd. And then they had to be perfect. One hundred per cent on. My own style became a hybrid between cutter and reiner with a little roper thrown in for good measure (!)

dawdler said...

Ellie, I hear you. The first time I rode a dressage horse after having ridden hunter up to that point, I kept dropping the contact and couldn't get her to canter. Humiliating for a "know-it-all" teenager =oP

rootytooty said...

I'll never forget the first time I saw a horse jump in person. It was a high-jump contest held late at night after the Morgan, Arab and ASB saddleseat classes had finished. I was right at the rail and about 20 feet from the jump. Just completely awestruck at how a 1000-pound animal could jump that high. Still am.

Sagebrusheq said...

I enjoy horse shows but I rarely get to one. I also have a high regard for the level of expertise that can be found there. However I've also been amazed sometimes at the number of competitors who, to all appearances, seem think that the only difference between disciplines is a change of tack and another snappy outfit for the rider.

Jess9687 said...

The gear that western riders wear ... all the bright colours, the glitter etc etc I think it looks stoopid. Just in my opinion of course. LOL

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

>>Ellie, I hear you. The first time I rode a dressage horse after having ridden hunter up to that point, I kept dropping the contact and couldn't get her to canter.<<

Many years ago, as a silly teenager, I switched horses with another silly teenager at my barn. I had been riding a polo pony - she had been riding her high level dressage horse.

Man, we were BOTH in trouble! I didn't have the contact right so her horse got pissed and started bucking. She VERY nearly wound up flying off at the halt - she was actually in front of the saddle.

We switched back :-)

OutRiding01 said...

I got the biggest shock of my life when I stumbled upon a Hunter Under Saddle class at an open show. I had been riding hunter/jumpers for about 8 years (I was 12 or so) and couldn't understand why western people were riding in english tack.
Also got another shock that same year when I was asked to show a pony at an open show and rode into the ring to find I was competing against 2 saddle seat riders and several people wearing half chaps and velvet helmet covers. I had only ever been at hunter/jumper show barns and wasn't aware that there were people out there who just rode for fun (although competing as much as possible and riding everything under the sun was MY idea of fun, lol.) I had never seen a Saddlebred before that.... I probably rode around the entire class with my mouth hanging open!

TBDancer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TBDancer said...

Drillrider, I agree with you. I remember the AQHA shows of the early 70s where the horses were "in the bridle." As soon as that four-beat, crippled head down what-passes-for-lope/canter in the pleasure classes took over, I stopped competing. Judges were going for that, and my horse didn't know how to do it.

One of the reasons I went into dressage when I got back into horses in the late 90s was that I LIKE horses "in the bridle."

an American in Copenhagen said...

I saw a small arab show when I was about 15. At that point I had been exposed to english (hunter jumper) and western (real ranch horses no less) so I knew there were different styles/needs for horse, tack, and riding styles out there. That arab show totally blew my mind though.

Here was my mental dialogue:

Who would want to ride too small bat shit crazy horse like that?

Oh, apparently those people. Why don't they train their horses to be more calm? Why are they riding in genie costumes?

Why did they shave their horse's face? Why did they put Vaseline on it, too? Why do they make them stand like that with their necks craned like swans—they’re horses?

A few years later I helped assist during vet checks as an endurance competition and gained an appreciation for arabs. A few years after that my first horse, by coincidence, ended up being a 'too small bat shit crazy arab' who I loved very much.

However, I still don't get the aesthetic of the arab shows with the over-arched necks, vaseline, and costumes. I also don't really see the point of using them for anything other than trail and endurance. I feel like I'm looking at a round peg in a square hole when I see an arab jumping. (BTW, yes, I know some arabs do other things very well but I still think it's silly to cut cattle on a horse designed for anything other than cutting cattle. I'm just a 'right tool for the job' kind of gal.)

Freedom Flight said...

I was appalled when I first saw QH western pleasure. I had seen arab WP, but it familiar to me, and less ugly. And when I saw QH hunter under saddle, I had no idea what they were doing! I was like, "Why is this horse's head dragging on the ground?". I thought the point of Hunter under saddle is if there was *hypothetically* a jump, the horse would be ready to go over it. I doubt any horse could go over a jump with their heads that low! Please correct me if I am wrong about the HUS thing.