Be warned. I absolutely loved reading the dialogue that got going without me. I think I'm going to do this once in a while. I liked the free flow of ideas without me butting in. Of course now I'm butting in.....
Back to Ezra's horse. We're going to look at this as a decent minded horse and rider team who are learning together. This can be tough, but not insurmountable. Ezra is not in a hurry and in my opinion will learn so much about shaping up her horse and develop so much feel it will be worth the frustration.
The colt I wrote about was physically crooked. He stood with his head turned, his spine curved and his tail cocked to the side all the time if you let him, whether you were on him or not. He is better now, but not ever going to be much more than a nice trail horse. Which is fine, his family knows his limitations and is fine with them.
We know Ezra has had her horse worked on by the chiro and is healthy. So I'm not going to worry about the mare being crooked. If it was a problem the chiro would have seen it.
I'm also going to assume Ezra rides well enough to handle this. She can lope around on her fine, just isn't getting the lead she wants, so in my mind she rides well enough for what I'm thinking.
I'm also going to have her ride Western, since that's what I know. In spirit if not in saddle!
Heila- You're right, most western riders don't wear helmets. Why? Because we are dumb asses. I'm sorry, but there's no other explanation. I don't wear one either. I look too good in my hat.
Back to Ezra...Congratulations on that lope! You're on your way!
So, let's start with getting rid of the lope for awhile.
I want you to do some work with yourself and your mare on feel. Do you ever ride bareback? If you don't that's OK, but if you do, ride her at a walk in your arena for awhile. Please ride in a ring snaffle or side pull for now. If you know this stuff be patient, I'm just going through each step. Make sure you know the feel of each foot leaving the ground. Get to where you can call out each foot in whatever order you feel like. Then get there saddled.
Once again, if you are comfortable bareback, start there, if not just do the same in the saddle.
Walk on the rail in your arena. (Don't tell your trainer!) In each corner guide her nose using your inside rein just enough to get her to do a circle, 10-12 feet should be good, make at least one full circle in each corner so you don't change direction. I want you to ride the circle to the inside. Don't use anything but your hands to shape your circle. Your inside hand is the only hand doing anything, it's your guiding hand. Your guiding hand will be out from your body, kind of like you are leading her, try not to hold your arm in tight against your body. Sit up and keep your shoulders level, don't lean in.
As you start your circle, don't worry about whether your mare is correct or not. Your just checking for holes. (I love holes by the way, filling them is how we end up with a trained horse)
Does her nose follow the guidance of your hand softly and easily? Does her neck stiffen up and she swings her hips out or leans into the circle? Don't worry about any of this, just note it. Think about how it feels, and what's what.
You want your mare to softly move through each circle holding her body in the shape of a "C" that matches the path of the circle. From the tip of her nose to the base of her tail, she needs to form a "C".
Don't try to force a shape here, just know that's where your headed.
Go both directions, checking her circles each way. Know in your mind what the issues are and where she tenses up.
Now you're going to check yourself out. Saddle is fine, bareback if you can. Sit square on your horse with your legs relaxed and free. If you're in your saddle take your feet out of your stirrups.
Sit up straight, shoulders back and find your seat bones. Basically your weight will be balanced on three points. When your neutral you will feel all three points of contact. When you rock back you will feel the back two seat bones. Let me know if you need clarification here.
Now go back to walking around the arena and making your circles in the corners. This time as you bring your inside hand up and out to guide her nose rock back and drop your weight onto your inside seat bone.
Think about what happens and how she responds. Does she make a sharper turn? Does she toss her head or turn it out or sideways in one direction? Once again don't correct her just analyze the feel. What happens to your seat, the placement of your legs? Don't let your shoulders fall in!
Now we'll add some leg. Think of your inside leg as a post your mare can turn around. It will fall at the cinch. Your thigh is relaxed, your toes are turned slightly out so you can have your calf pushed against your mare's ribs as the post.
Your outside leg is back about 6-10 inches behind your cinch and helping shape her into the "C". (Wherever you need to place it to get some bend.)
Remember to keep sitting up with your shoulders level.
Keep taking her through the corners and asking for a circle or two.
Now you've been doing this for a while. I will be very surprised if at this point she hasn't started to relax into your hands and is walking with her head low and relaxed and a lot of the tension is leaving her, even the bad way.
At this point you will come into your circle and keep circling her until she drops her head, relaxes her ribs and makes her "C". Then you can let her out and walk to the next point. When you are on your straight line make sure your reins are relaxed, you're breathing evenly and your seats relaxed. That is her reward for trying to shape into the circle. Make sure you go both directions.
So at this point you are taking your mare through some simple 10-12 foot circles in the corners of your arena in order to really analyze her areas of stiffness and to check your riding form.
1. You'll guide her by her nose with only your inside hand first.
2. You'll check the effect of your seat bones and add weight dropped on the inside seat bone during her turn.
3. You'll add the inside leg placed as a post on the cinch area.
4. You'll add the outside leg 6 to 12 inches behind the cinch as a guide for shaping your mare.
5. You will look for a perfect "C" shape with a lowered, relaxed head before you let her out of the circle.
6. You'll really think about each phase, how your mare reacts, if you have a tendency to tip to the right or left, and where your seat bones are.
Even if you know this stuff do it again, following the steps and analyzing your mare. I do this with every horse I ride.....
Then you'll let me know where we're at.
I have a few questions.
Do you ride western or English?
Does your mare ride in a ring snaffle?