Monday, May 7, 2012

Summer Hours

Some of you may have noticed I've been a little erratic lately.

There's a few things involved, one of which is I've been given back my riding time from a life that thought I didn't need so much of it.

So that's what I'm doing. Riding, thinking about riding, training, riding, thinking about training, you get my drift.

When I'm not doing that, I've been writing, just not here.

Odin and Madonna are my only projects, but both are at an exciting part of their life as my horses, at least I feel that way, they aren't quite as impressed.

Odin is ready for some training. He is coming five, a horrifying age if you're a cow horse trainer on a schedule, but luckily for both of us, I'm no longer trapped in that particular game.

This spring, although still short in stature, he's stout, muscled and ready to rock. So now we're learning stuff.

Madonna is getting moved up into the bridle, a spade bit, after being ridden in the hackamore for several years. She didn't necessarily need to be in the hackamore that long, but I did.

I wanted to fully understand what the things were capable of, develop my timing and hand, and have her so soft and ready there was no question of her being able to move up and learn to be a traditional bridle horse.

To my way of thinking, that means she has confidence in me, herself, my expectations, and won't be afraid of the giant wonking hunk of metal I'm hanging in her mouth.

I ran a self imposed test on her in the hackamore last week. She can be ridden in any situation, from the trail, to a gather, to a show in her hackamore. She can change leads on a straight line, half-pass, haunches in, yada yada, that wasn't my question.

I simply rode her on the rail. We loped on a loose rein for a few rounds, just schlumping along, then I asked her, with my legs, to move into the bosal, with her hindquarters mind you--not by dropping her nose--and to collect.

She did. I felt her move forward, then asked for more, she slowed, I asked her to hold her previous speed, she went to it, I asked for more and her shoulders elevated as she broke at the poll and her face became vertical.

All a very lovely drive forward , back to frontinto a relaxed rein. I only asked her to carry herself this way for about 10 strides at a time, neither of us are in good enough shape for any more.

She did as I asked, every time I asked, on both leads, without a wobble or impatient twitch.

I've never bumped her nose down, used a martingale, drop nose band, none of the usual stuff those of us in a hurry turn to. She has learned to break at the poll and bring in her nose to balance the forward push of her hindquarters, like a little accordion, because that's what works.

We're ready for the two-rein.

I am very, very excited.

Odin is green as grass, very willing and showing some talent. My training approach has changed so much since K and I went our separate ways, it's going to be a big adventure to see how this goes.

So, I'm a bit distracted.

Where I'm going, for now anyway, is to share this with you guys. Lots of thinking, changes, what ifs, more than likely some massive bone-head errors and observations.

If a story comes, I'll write it, but they're not popping up at the moment, my head's kind of full.

The book club?

I'm revamping it, putting together a reading list, we'll start again in the fall, I'm not reading beyond research right now.

Equine Mindmeld? I think I'm caught up, I love it, and I'll keep participating as I can. There's some good training advice coming in from outside sources and I don't want to miss out on it.

This is a big adventure for me, I hope you guys are ready for a change to the usual format, at least for now.

Mouthy Monday will be back in action as of next week.

Talk soon.


  1. Good luck with your horses and yourself. Look forward to hearing about your progress. Pics would be nice on occasion...hint, hint. Bra cam was fun.

  2. "I've been given back my riding time from a life that thought I didn't need so much of it."

    I didn't realize that much of your riding time had been taken away, but I'm glad to hear it has changed for the better.

  3. I was hoping the lack of new posts ment you were out riding :)

  4. I look forward to hearing stories of your progress, and follies as you move forward with the development of your horses. Of course I am expecting more progress than folly... =)

  5. 'I've never bumped her nose down'

    is this bumping with the legs and checking with the reins at the same time, collection?

    Front to back collection no longer makes sense to me. I'm riding a 15.1, 1110lb big-assed, big-necked Canadian mare who was only ever ridden with pull on the reins and consequently had a hard mouth. Since I've been reading this blog and schooling with flexions and Mary Wanless breathing stuff, and asking her to work and slow down from behind, she's a different mare. Wish I'd realised this when I was training my horses!

  6. Odin is the one you raised by teaching him something once, and expecting him to remember it, correct? Have you been continuing on that, or building up on it as things get more complex? Aside from his "I DON'T WANNA" stage, do you think it's stuck?

  7. GreyDakkon- It still works, as long as it is something he learns as "here's how we do it," over things he needs to learn from repetition to develop muscle memory.

    Circles are probably the easiest example for muscle memory...he needs to find a perfect circle again and again until his body goes on auto-pilot and does it for him.

    He is still engaged and interested and learns very quickly.

    The biggest benefit is how this approach has cleaned up and simplified my cues.

    If I pick, I'm sending multiple messages and I'm mumbling. This colt is keeping me very, very honest.

    But opening a gate?
    One time.

    Side pass? One time - BUT - taught one step at a time.

  8. Madonna sounds awesome!! I'd be very excited too!! Yes, lookin' for pics when you can. I'm all for doing what you can do when you know we'll be here ;~)

  9. A good reason to be writing less I think, go for it!

    I am very interested in what you said about how much your mare does without a bit, and will be interested to see if you think you get more from her with one, and whether it is possible to get to the same level of refined communication without a bit.

    I am fascinated by the things I am beginning to see about tackless riding. People seem to be achieving so much with body position and seat and leg aids, I am beginning to wonder if bits are necessary at all.

    I'm really looking forward to hearing more about your progress with your mare.

  10. I think riding is the best excuse for not doing a whole bunch of stuff!!

    Have fun!

  11. Muggs:
    Have fun but If I may put forward a selfish request - Please continue the "Telly" story - Fingers crossed it's a happy ending :)

  12. I
    to ride that horse.

    (but I'm pretty sure her skills surpass mine)