Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Back to Ezra

Now I'm taking for granted that Ezra and her mare are happily walking around in their 10 to 12 foot circles. The mare will drop her head and relax into Ezra's legs.

Now I would start walking this mare in a series of lines the length of the arena. We're back to the "check out the horse and rider at the same time exercises".

Look straight ahead, make sure you're balanced evenly on your seat bones, and your shoulders are even. Your riding two-handed, your hands are relaxed, soft and maintain very light contact with your mare. My definition of contact is when you can just feel the horses mouth at the end of your reins. Your mare has an equal amount of space on both sides of her neck between her and the reins.

Your legs are relaxed and neutral. The mid-point of my calves lightly touch the sides of my horse when I'm relaxed.

Don't be in a hurry to here. Instead, experiment a little. Drop your weight onto your left seat bone. Simply wait and see what happens, keep looking straight ahead.
What I'm thinking will happen is she will attempt to reposition herself evenly under you. Her shoulder will come to the left and realign her. Immediately rebalance your weight evenly on your seat bones.
Play with this a little. Keep looking straight ahead and drop your right seat bone. She should drift, shoulder first to the right in an attempt to get under you again. Make sure you rebalance as soon as she steps over so she will understand that's what you want.
Wander up and down the arena, (off the rail) dropping the left seat bone, then the right.
Think about how she moves, were your legs fall, how your shoulders shift. Make sure you're not leaning right or left, just dropping about five pounds of weight into that seat bone to get her to move left and right.
Keep your hands out of this. The challenge is to get her to move without your hands turning her.

OK! Enough of that.
Now we're going to start to push your mare into a turn.
Walk about ten feet off the rail. As you reach a corner you will stop. Rock back on your pockets. (preferably Wranglers) Your outside (wall-side) leg will come off your mare. Your inside leg will slide back 6-10 inches and you will push with your calf.
Your mare should move her hindquarters towards the wall and into your opening leg in a turn on the forehand..
You will probably have to steady her with your hands on the reins to stop her forward motion.
Do a quarter turn and walk to the next wall.
I'm on drugs today BTW, so I'm not sure I'm making any sense.
Essentially I want you to walk down each wall, stop, do 1/4 turn on the forehand with the haunches moving toward the wall and then continue on.
Both directions please. Think about getting your desired response with your legs first, only using her reins to help balance her. Her head should stay fairly straight.
If your mare needs to bend her neck and nose to do a turn on the forehand then practice until she can move her haunches and keep her head and neck straight.
Once again, think about what's happening here.
In the first exercise she is moving into your dropped weight.
In the next she is moving away from your dropped weight.
The last exercise for the day is to walk random straight lines around the arena. Stop, do a 360 turn on the forehand and move off in the next direction.Turn left and right until she will softly turn for you without a lot of fuss.
Think about your balance. Be conscious of your weight at all times. Have fun, really!


  1. Massive sinus/ear infection, not too funny. I really am pretty heavily sedated....so I'm truly hoping I'm making sense. I've been speaking an ancient Mandarin dialect all day at work.

  2. Made sense to me. Hope you feel better soon.

  3. Ok, everything did make sense to me, drugs and all :) Hope you feel better, does not sound fun.

    I will take my time, enjoy and see what happens. Thank you.

  4. Hijacking warning!

    I did it. I took the 5 yo OTTB out on the trail again. There were no llamas this time but there were scary, scary mountain bikes. Tax was HOT, and super pissy but we lived. And you know what? It was an excellent confidence booster. I finally remember why I was never been afraid to get on green horses. I actually do pretty well up there. :) On a bad note I realized why 16.3 green OTTBs don't make good trail horses. 1. I think I hit every tree branch for miles. 2. He doesn't watch his feet at ALL. 3. Picking your way down a steep, rocky trail is far too time consuming when you can just wildly leap for it. The horse in front of you is there to stop you from rolling down the hill right?

    Sorry for that, but I had to tell someone!

  5. FYYah- perfect! I say keep trail riding. He'll learn to watch where he's going and it will make a huge difference in the arena. I say good job!

  6. I've never really understood why llamas are so scary. I mean my horses totally beat up our llama whenever they feel like it. Her only purpose is to keep them company which she does well. The poor thing doesn't even know how to spit at them... Mugs, do you think I could learn cutting using a llama?

  7. Ezra - I am rooting for you! Can't wait to see what you post next.

    Mugwump - thanks for posting this. Your posts help me with my horses.

  8. I figured you were ill and not in the back parking lot smoking or otherwise ingesting banned substances!

    As sick as you are... speaking Mandarin and all - you still have a great sense of humor!

    Feel better soon -

    Fyyahchild - that is AWESOME! I am standing up and applauding you!!!

  9. funny I did that today with my new coach... using shift in my hips to ask and increasing the presure down my leg to my spur... Im guessing to hopefully get the mare to respond to my shifts and not so much the spur.

    And yes Im riding again with a WP coach. I'm still not sure if this is the direction I want to take (esp with all the recent drama) but saddle time is saddle time.

    Hope you feel better soon!!!

  10. mugwump, gotta say, love this blog. You are an amazing writer, and you inspire me to want to go out and do more with my horses. Learn new things and believe I really can train my own. Why the heck would I send my horse away for more training when I can’t ride her like THAT when she gets back? I need the training, not just her.

    And it doesn't hurt that this issue is exactly what I am trying to work on with my mare in lessons right now. Eerie! And I had just come to the conclusion that I need to try her in a sidepull, see if that helps (gets me off my hands too!). I compete in Endurance. I love trying new things though. I am schooling with a young woman who has competed in dressage and jumping and was just recognized by Sally Swift herself for her work and training in Centered Riding.

    She is like you, and has a gift with words (unlike your Big K), which helps me to ride in a different (and better) ways. Please keep writing your stories and training advice. It truly does inspire others…

  11. You know I met someone recenly who ran into another rider on the trail ponying, of all things, a zebra. Her horse was terrified. To my mind a llama let alone a zebra is practically a horse. I can't imagine they smell that different with the samre food sources. What does get the horse SO worked up?

  12. A zebra? I would have spooked! The first time Sonita saw a leopard app she stared and stared. She finally decided it was a cow. No kidding. She tried to work that poor appy every time we were near it. Rider or no she would put her head down and try to work the poor thing.
    It wasn't me I swear, I liked the horse. Moo.

  13. There are two llamas that live in a field near one of our usual trails. The bigger one looks like an animated haystack. I jump every time he appears. How could I blame the horses? They are good and patient with the goat pen we pass and the goat I once met on the trails. And yeah, I have had horses react in very odd ways to small white ponies, donkeys...etc. There's no way of knowing what the big deal will be. I recommend avoiding pigs.

  14. I used to board at a dressage barn with the b&w Paint/Percheron cross in my photo. There was an imported warmblood mare that was terrified of him, she had never seen such a thing. She never reeally got over it either.

    I used to belong to a horsemans club where I took this horse once or twice a week to do cow stuff. Team penning and sorting stuff. I was not real big on the team penning but it was such good exposure and I would only ride with an 80 year old man, he and his horse both walked with a limp. We would do it all at a walk or a trot. This horse is so mild mannered and non cowy, some of the the black and white cows would see us and walk right up to him just like he was one of them.

  15. De-lurking now
    My (recently adopted) pony is now scared of my pet(feral) pig. The pig was scared of the pony at first-it's a monster pig eating cow! Run! Run!- but then once Horsie was sniffing at Piggy and Piggy barked-that was it.Horsie went off running and kicking with the pig in hot pursuit of the ex-monster.

    So now they're not allowed out together.

    I love your writing Mugwump.I hope the drugs work-soon!


  16. Interspecies relations are intersting! I have dairy goats and one doe was "sterile" so we tried to buddy her up with the horses. Our ancient TB mare at the time nickered softly with her ears perked forwad. She was so interested but my old gelding pinned his ears and wanted to eat the doe. No match-making happened there!

    I was driving past a field once and saw a domestic pig with an older kid (16-ish) out... and a horse with pinned ears going after that pig. I dunno if the pig got out of it's pen, the horse got out of it's pen or maybe the kid was trying to introduce them?