Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hello Vodka Soda, It's Mommy Calling....

My last few rides have been so-so. Can't quite put my finger on it. I have had some successes but I feel like I am not quite getting it. In general, though, I feel a bit like I am letting Gem down. It's like he's waiting for me to do something. I can sense it. I have been working on some weak areas, but frankly they are making me weak! I have been experiencing jelly-legs lately when I dismount.

We are still having issues with the way he bends when going around corners. I feel like a failure in this area. He tends to turn his head to the outside just a smidge as we round corners, causing his neck and shoulders to bend inside. This has been an issue since day one. As we come up to a corner, I apply my inside leg to get him to bend around it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Sigh. I end up using my reins to reinforce my leg, which I am not too keen on.

I am still not able to ask him for a large posting trot. He will do one instead of a lope, but he will not do one if I am asking him to speed up from a jog. Our sitting jog is quick-ish already, so I guess he just thinks he's going fast enough. :-) I can apply leg pressure all I want, but he only speeds up a little teensy bit. I can almost see it in his eyes that he is routing for me to ask him correctly so he can respond. Come on, you can do it!! Sigh.

It's getting busier in the arena because of the change of temperature. It's hit and miss on keeping Gem's attention on me. I now keep him walking, even in lesson. I want him to realize that we are working and it's not about standing in the middle of the arena gabbing. Keeping him moving helps, but I feeling like I am pushing or pulling him all the time to keep him focused on the task at hand. If I give him one nano-second, his attention will move over to the other horses in the arena. I don't mind him being curious or friendly, but currently when he does this he disengages from me completely. I am trying not to take it personally. :-) Hopefully, the novelty of having new arena friends will wear off.

On a positive note getting on Gem has improved. Out of the last 3 times I got on him, he gave me the business once and it was minor. I changed the location of where I get on him and I think that made a bit of a difference. I also walk him around the arena a couple of times with whoa and back up thrown in a few times for good measure prior to taking him over the to mounting step-ladder. I believe this exercise sets the tone, so when I ask him to stand, he does.

I have been tired after the last few rides and looking forward to my vodka soda when I get home. My body has been in a constant state of sore the last week, a side-effect of working hard at trying to dial into the right number. Not Gem's fault, really. He's waiting for me to get it so he can answer and we can communicate. I hope I find the right number soon. I don't like feeling like I am letting him down.

What was I thinking....?


  1. For the corners, try thinking more about providing support with the outside rein, and use the inside leg to move him over into the outside rein.

    On the pace at the trot, make sure you're not blocking his forward motion - make sure you're looking ahead, and asking for no slow steps from the first trot step. Be definite and clear.

    For focus and concentration, don't do a lot of straight lines - mix it up and do lots of circles, serpentines, figures, etc. You can work on your corner techniques that way and he'll be busy thinking about his feet.

    Good work on the standing for mounting!

  2. Dusty used to do the same thing to me in the corners. I find myself living on the merry-go-round, meaning that we do lots of circles. Ask your trainer for some good rein aids to work on for softening and relaxing him and I'm sure you won't have to work so hard with your legs.

  3. I agree with Kate and Grey Horse Matters on the bending. Just keep working on it from that perspective and it will come. And don't disconinute the vodka sodas even when it does - sounds like a nice after ride ritual :)

  4. I got such a good laugh when I read the title of this post. I know that feeling quite well!

    Might help to open your inside rein a little as you approach the turn while you apply your inside leg (not pulling back on the rein, just moving your hand away from his neck) to encourage him to fill out the outside rein. That helps with Tucker when he wants to fall to the inside.

    Don't be discouraged, riding is not a very steep learning curve! Takes lots of time, patience, and practice. You're on the right track, I can tell! The mounting is improving, so that's progress! I definitely think what you're doing before you get on (walking, halting, backing) sets the right tone. Good job!

  5. You will get there! We all go through tough times when we feel like we are having a constant battle. Stick with it and I bet soon you will have a ride and everything will just fall into place!

  6. Perfect post for me to ask if you've watched the Chris Irwin video yet. Have you?

  7. BTW- Coriander has been doing this too, counterbending on me at the trot. He doesn't do it at the walk so I'm chalking it up to us not having done enough ring work at the trot for him to know how to balance himself through the corners. I'm just starting to introduce trotting circles and loops to him and it's really helping with the bulging.

  8. Wolfie, remember, sometimes you get to just ride, too. It doesn't always have to be so front and center to work on every detail. You could just pick one thing to keep in mind while you enjoy a simple pleasure ride. For example, you could walk around the arena letting him be "looky" at the same time you keep him moving. Everybody deserves a break from time to time, horse and human. And maybe it's not that Gem is waiting for you to do something but that he's waiting for you to relax a little bit. Don't be so hard on yourself.

  9. Hi Wolfie, apologies for lack of visiting, recovering from horrible bug my boys kindly shared with me!!
    As a novice rider, I can't offer any riding advice but I will say: cut yourself some slack & don't be so hard on yourself. Maybe if you relax into the riding a bit more, it'll get easier. I know when I'm trying too hard, everything just seems that much harder.
    Btw, thanks for sharing Gem's story a couple of posts back, sounds like you two were destined to be together.
    And so sorry to hear of LA losing her dear horse.

  10. I'm sure glad you posted this - I got lots of great tips! LOL

    For the muscle fatigue you may be holding yourself tense and not realize it. Breathe deeply and see if that helps.

  11. Thanks, everyone, for your support and encouragement.

  12. There's so much to learn and it takes time. We all wish it didn't but it does so give yourself a break and remember to breath. That's the most important step and most of us forget it.

  13. Don't be discouraged! You have the biggest part of the battle fought and that is just going and getting on and trying AND recognizing that you have so much to learn. I think that is the best part about horse ownership and riding is that there is always something more and new to learn and just when we think we have it down pat something else crops up to challenge us! As long as you are enjoying the process and have that deep down good feeling then it is all gonna be just fine! :) (and the vodka soda helps out too!)