Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gem, get over yourself....

First, I want to thank my blogger friends for their suggestions regarding my current mounting block issues with Gem. I only see Gem 2-3 times a week, so it may take longer to correct this problem. The couple of days in between sessions seems to erase his memory banks and we have to start again. :-) I am trying a combo of the suggestions that you guys provided and will let you know what finally works.

Well, the weather is changing. I actually like Fall the best out of all the seasons when it comes to riding. It's still warmish and dry, fewer bugs and the colours are amazing. Of course a change in season means a change in riding fashion! I love being able to layer clothing to accommodate the weather. In the summer, all you can do is melt into your t-shirt, and believe me when I say that the wet t-shirt look is not a good one for me. :-)

With the change in seasons, comes a change in attitude. I find that Gem is a little more energized. The stifling heat that we had here during the previous few months seemed to zap the energy of every living thing. Now that it's cooler, Gem is revitalized and frankly, so am I.

LA is still riding Gem once a week and I think I will continue with this. He gets a decent workout with her, which he doesn't get from me...yet. :-) She does not ride him on one particular day; it's whenever her schedule allows during the week. LA has been concentrating on laterals to help with his flexibility and working at having him release the bit instead of pulling on it. I have noticed a big difference these two areas; he is much more responsive to my leg and he is better at softening on the bit (not sure if that's the right terminology!) when I ask. He continues to bend inside rather than outside when going around the paddock, but it's not as frequent. He now gets a nice foam around his lips when we are working.

Two areas that I still have problems with are the extended trot and loping. I just can't get him into an extended trot when I ask. I can only apply leg pressure and kiss the air for so long! It's like he knows that if he just holds out a little longer, I will collapse...which I do. I know he can do it because regularly we end up doing an extended trot (which apparently looks quite beautiful!) when I am trying to get him to lope! Good grief.

LA has mentioned that she still has to push him to lope. It seems that he just doesn't like loping. Well, let me clarify; he doesn't like loping when someone is ON him. I have a goal of being able to lope around the arena twice, balanced and with my butt in the saddle. May not sound like much to most of you experienced riders, but it's a big deal to me. :-) I will be practicing loping over the next while, so Gem will just have to deal with it.

I actually can tell when LA has ridden Gem by his attitude towards me. If she has ridden Gem the day before I see him, he is pushy with me. It's like he takes out his grumpiness from being made to work by LA out on me! He doesn't come when I call him, he's mouthy, he shakes his head in the cross-ties, he pulls his feet away from me when I am cleaning them and there's a lot of tail swishing going on. What the heck??? I worked yesterday! This is torture! Leave me alone! If LA has not ridden him the day before I see him, he's a pussy cat. He comes to me, he stands quietly, he leans into my hand when I scratch is neck and ears, he almost starts to doze off in the cross-ties and when we are riding, he's almost lighter (it's hard to explain).

I think part of his snarky attitude could be that he is a little sore from his workout with LA. I know she is tougher on him than I am. LA makes him work and doesn't take any of his crap. LA reminds me regularly that he only has to work 4 hours a week and when he's with me (or her), he should be focused on working. I know I let him get away with a lot.

Me: I am cuing you to lope, please.
Gem: No.
Me: Please, I want you to lope.
Gem: Forget it. I will trot, but I won't lope.
Me: But I really need to learn how to do this.
Gem: I don't care actually. I have tried loping in the past, and don't like it.
Me: Please!!!
Gem: No, I would rather stand in the middle with my friends and that is where I am heading NOW.
Me: OK. We can try loping another day. Sigh.

I am getting better at not taking NO for an answer, but it is a work in progress. As my confidence level increases, I hope that his respect for me does, too. It's getting better. Last night was actually a great lesson when it came to boosting my confidence. In amongst all the false starts and inconsistent runs, there were a few highlights. I actually got Gem to lope from a standing position, not once but twice! I was able to change from an incorrect lead to the correct one while we were moving! I lost the reins at one point and although I wasn't able to steer him properly, I remained balanced and solid in my seat while I was trying to get my reins organized as we continued loping. I was able to get him to lope once around the paddock without him loosing momentum. I experienced Gem being on the correct lead in the front, but not in the back - the feeling of my brain banging against the top of my skull is not one that I want to experience any time soon! I was also told that my butt was in the saddle more often than not. :-) My classmates and LA were very complimentary and supportive.

So, listen up Gem.... It's going to happen. You can't avoid it. Don't look at me with those big brown eyes. I am not going to cave! We are going to nail the extended trot and we are going to lope around the arena..not once, but twice. The sooner you accept this, the better.

What was I thinking....?


  1. First let me just say that Gem is a beautiful horse. What a nice eye and handsome head.

    As for the loping, it will come. I am having the same problems with Dusty. She's a still a bit green and cantering isn't one of her best gaits. The only thing I found really helps with her is to set her up properly coming into the corner and then she's much better. As for her lengthening at the trot, we just tried that this weekend. First we got the working trot and then I got her to soften and come on the bit and asked for a few steps of extended trot and back to the working trot. That seemed to work. So I'm giving her a little bit at a time. With lots of neck rubbing and verbal praise. Good luck I'm sure it will all come together, it just takes time.

  2. Maybe he's bored or feels like he needs to be going somewhere? I had no idea my gelding could trot until we started trail riding. When we were only riding in a ring he used to poke around at the trot. Now he really moves out, in fact, as I just found out yesterday, he can out-trot a race horse!

    Strap on that vest of power and give it a go!

  3. Sounds like you are working hard on improving things. As a relative newby to riding what is loping? I don't know if the term is unfamiliar because of my ignorance of riding or whether they use a different word in the UK?

  4. GHM - Thank you...I think he's a handsome fellow. :-) It makes sense to start with I working, extended, working, extended. Baby steps.

    Shannon - a very interesting observation! He was used for trail riding by his previous owner. Perhaps he does need to have a place to go.... Congrats on Coriander's trail riding!

    JanLou - yes, I am working hard, but starting riding a couple of years ago (I turned 54 at the beginning of the month!) sometimes has it's physical drawbacks. :-) Your question regarding loping is valid!! In a nutshell, loping is the western version of canter and jogging is the western version of a slow sitting trot. There are subtle differences is the intensity and how the horse's body is positioned, but that's basically it. Feel free to ask questions anytime!

  5. It's amazing how things change when you realize you can make them change. Congrats on that lope - what a great accomplishment and yet more to celebrate.

    I think it's interesting that he's so different when LA's had a turn on him. I leave it to the more experienced to try to figure out what that's about.

  6. I agree with Shannon nothing brings out a nice trot like trail. That is where I send Bodhi when he is feeling sluggish. Also are you sure he knows what you are asking for? usually our horses are just confused about what we are asking for, not being lazy. Make sure you have a distinct cue for lengthing so he knows what you mean. Bodhi will extend even to a voice command of "trot up!"

    He is just so handsome... drool.

  7. Good morning!

    Breathe - Thanks! I have to say I was quite pleased with myself after lesson. Loping doesn't seem to be quite as scary as it used to be.

    Golden - I can't argue with you and Shannon! :-) Re cue, you make an excellent point. I suspect that it is a combo of Gem being Gem and me being tired and not asking him correctly. That will change. :-)

  8. Hey Wolfie, we have the same goal, cantering around the arena twice... tho to be honest if I could manage just one complete circuit, I'll be happy! But you accomplished quite a bit there, regardless -- fantastic!!
    I know what you mean about not being firm enough -- Biscuit had me pegged as a softie from the start & I'm only now starting to get some semblance of response from her (I hope!) tho I still get told to not let her get away with stuff *sigh*
    I'm cheering you on from this side of the pond --Go Wolfie!!
    Btw, Gem is one handsome guy, you lucky thing!

  9. Hi Joy - Thanks! I am only now getting comfortable with my balance when it comes to loping a large circle. It will come, I know... I appreciate your cheers from your side of the pond! I have relatives in Southampton, Portsmouth and London. :-) Thanks for your comments on Gem....he is handsome, and knows it. :-) Looking forward to your next lesson update....Go Joy!!