Friday, May 15, 2009

Taking a Break

I have snuck off and am visiting my Dad for the first time in 8 years or so....I'll be back on track on Tuesday!


  1. Have a good vacation, Janet. We will all miss your internet presence, but I'm glad you're getting a break.

  2. I'm bummed out and happy for ya' all at the same time! Enjoy your time with your dad..

  3. Good for you! Have a good time!

    (Just please remember to come back)

  4. Have a fun and safe trip. God bless parents of horsey kids. I remember you saying your dad had to drive you to go fetch Mort when he escaped.

  5. Yay! I'm in St Louis, Missouri for my cousin's highschool graduation. Have fun Janet!

  6. Why so long? (that could be intrusive - sorry, you don't have to reply!)
    anyone up for starting a conversation while mugs is gone? I've been brushing up on 'classical riding' on this website:
    It's really good for exact seat and leg aids to give for a particular movement. So many books I've bought deal with the general concept of their particular style of riding, rather than detailed instructions on training.

    how's everyone's horses? ticking along nicely?

  7. Here's one...

    Do you adjust your cues to each horse? I.e., my mare was trained WP, so her signal to lope was "sit back, press with outside leg, smooch". She was spur trained, so when she resisted, she was poked.

    She did get the message with Mug's "over/under" style of encouragement, but not that enthusiastically - she'd go, but I could see her shrug her shoulders and sigh before she cantered.

    Now I am trying what Sally Swift suggested...centering before you ask for a transition...and Wow! My mare pops into a canter with just my slight squeeze and outside leg..even from a standstill! No matter what gait we are in, once I "center", she is alert and waiting for my signal.

    I don't know if I am becoming a better rider, or if she understands what I want more clearly with the different aide. Or if she had become so resistant to the spur trained method that this new way excites her.

    So, has anyone found their horse works better using different cues than standard for your discipline?

  8. interesting....just had a look at her methods on suite 101. Can you explain 'centering' before a transition a bit more to me?

    In terms of using aids from other disciplines, I find that rein back works a LOT better western style. Last night I had an English group lesson, and the instructor began an exercise, 'emergency stop', and then rein back in canter. I was riding a QH from my stables, and LOL at the look on her face as we slid to a stop and smartle backed up 6 steps!!!

    Like you, I have trouble with trot/canter transitions. The 'over and under' method would, I think, be frowned upon at this big fancy english barn!

  9. Hmmm...first I do recommend Sally's book. She takes you through balancing exercises that really help. I am terribly over-simplifying what is in her book...and I've only been reading it for two weeks or so, and constantly learning more each time I ride!

    I guess the easiest way to describe it is that I am checking my balance, making sure my seat is centered on my horse...i.e, both legs even, my butt crack lines up with her spine all the way forward to her withers, relax and sit deep, before I ask for a transition. I find I am rocking my hips ever so slightly just to settle them down and open them up, and that is the signal to Starlette that I am going to ask for something. I am also shifting my center back a tad for the canter, and then visualize energy coming up through the ground, pushing through my open hips and forward through my hands to Starlette's head. All this takes only two or three breaths...I am not yet good enough to do it automatically. Slight squeeze, outside leg behind the girth, and she's off! I am making sure I am taking pressure off the minute she does what I ask as a reward...something I found I was not doing before.

    If I am asking for a down transition, I then shift my center a little forward (she says to visualize an anchor dragging from your head down through your feet to the ground) and visual stopping the energy at my hands. I am still teaching her to stop on my seat...and I also find pretending there is a wall in front of us helps a lot.

    Oh, also...a great exercise Sally has you do is pretend your legs stop at your knees when riding. That way your are using your seat for balance, not your lower legs. When I feel off balance, I concentrate on that, and get my balance back pretty quickly.

    I am not as good as Mugs in breaking down steps, but I hope this helps :). I find I read something, then go and experiment what works on Starlette, as it seems you have to tailor to each horse.


  10. no that's great, thank you Jackie.
    With regards to pushing your centre forward for upward transitions, and backward for downward transitions I found something similar on the art of riding website. Take a look:

    'The seat bones can be used to collect the horse just as they were used to extend a pace. Remember that the legs initiate the energy, and the seat controls the flow. To direct the energy upwards instead of forwards, contract the muscles in the small of your back to tilt the pelvis slightly forward, lifting the weight from the seat bones to the crotch. This position has the effect of pulling the horse together by concentrating the energy in the hocks.'

    Do you, and everyone out there, train in a different style for different horses?

  11. That was my question originally :) Do you taylor to each individual the cues?

    I am not a trainer, but thanks! Just a re-rider who crazily bought a young green-broke appendix QH mare LOL! We are both learning together, and luckily she loves me enough to forgive my mistakes!


  12. I'm not sure if this would be useful for everyone, and I'm not even sure if it would be an "approved" approach, but I taught my young son to lope his lazy horse using the following method. To begin with, Henry the horse would go into the "death trot", to quote mugwump, and nothing my son could do would get the horse to lope. My little boy is only eight years old. I didn't want to give him spurs, and there is no way he could have managed to over and under with reins. I gave him an English style crop. When he wanted to lope, I had him cue Henry from the walk or slow trot by kicking him and smooching. When Henry accelerated into the death trot, I had my kid pull him back down to the halt. Then I had my son hold the reins and horn with one hand, kick Henry, and whack him with the crop (hard) at the same time. Henry, who knew perfectly well what was wanted, continued to go off in the trot. Every time I had my kid pull him back down and start over (It would have been better to just keep whacking the horse, but my little boy wasn't quite up for that). In not too long, Henry got tired of being pulled down and whacked hard, and started taking the lope--from the standstill. Now my kid can get a lope depart from a standstill, without using the crop, most of the time. Yes, lazy Henry will resist and do the death trot sometimes, but is easily reminded with the crop.

    As I said, I have no idea if this is a good method or not--it just worked for me with my son.

  13. well that sounds pretty effective. I know exactly the type of pony you are talking about, and I think especially at a young age, sometimes the best method is the very simple one.
    Regards to Jackie's question: first of all can I say how much I love your mare's name - it sounds like it came straight out of a Dolly Parton song!
    Since I sold my horse 2yrs ago I have ridden close to twenty different horses, the majority of them youngsters because my yard is a breaking yard, but also some old broodmares that are 're-broken', as it were.

    My role is as a guinea-pig - sit on them until they stop throwing themselves about - and then hand them over to someone to put training on them, but I'm trying to learn a little more so I can be more effective and clear in what I want. Suffice to say my yard isn't the place to get top instruction, so I'm taking riding lessons.

    My style of riding tends to vary wildly from horse to horse, and whilst I think that in some ways this is a good thing, it is important to remain true to your aims and values. If I am confused myself, how can I expect my horse to understand me? A 4yr arab mare, DJ, cycles so aggressively that I found when she is in heat it is in my best interests to treat her very nicely, with a loose rein and almost no leg contact. Unfortunately I feel like it impacts on her training, and that by not reinforcing 'leg-pressure' cues EVERY time I ride, she is realizing her behaviour can impact on my style of riding.

    So to conclude! - I need to stop rambling - yes I do use different aids for different horses, and even different aids according to the behaviour of the horse, but I don't like that I do!

  14. Thanks on the name...I didn't name her, she came with it, and since I knew her for 1 year before I bought her, it stuck. I do also call her Sunshine (Ha! A black-bay) and she always comes to that, too!

    Laura, I do use a dressage whip, but am trying to get away from it. I also play with jumping her (very, very low jumps) and find it gets in the way - plus I don't need anything to get her to move when we are playing with speed events (i.e., jumping, barrel racing, poles).

    Oh, mare responds differently each time when she cycles...sometimes she's sensitive, and sometimes she's sluggish...kinda like we are LOL!