Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Riding All Types

In an effort to improve my own riding, keep in shape, and practice without wearing out Guinness, I've been riding lots of my barn's horses in training. So, I thought it would be fun to give you a little "day in the riding life" glimpse.

Each horse I've been working with is completely different. This has really been challenging my fitness and my riding style, but in a good way.

Meet Tori:
Hi! I'm Tori! I'm super fuzzy right now!
Tori is an off the track thoroughbred with some fear issues. She has no real training off the track, and that training appears to have been questionable at best. Her fear is pretty pronounced, causing her to freak out when tied - even to the point of flipping over (note: Kids, don't go home with your brand spankin' just off the track thoroughbred and expect it to cross tie, it won't. It will probably be rather freaked out.), holding her breath whenever she is groomed, exploding under saddle when her rider is off balance or moves too much, attempting to climb out of the arena when other horses are present (thankfully, this one has subsided!), and holding her breath when being ridden.
Right now, Tori and I are working on R-E-L-A-X. I'm just letting her get used to walk, trot and canter in arenas and to moving calmly forward. She's handling it pretty well, and typically settles down about 15-20 minutes into a ride. Her fear causes me to pay close attention to the way I am balanced on her, and really think about how I'm touching her. In addition, I'm not using any real contact on her. Instead, I just hold her up when she needs to be balanced, and let her find her own way the rest of the time. I've found this works really well to teach most young thoroughbreds to balance and respond to your body without flipping out.

Then, meet Myster E: 
Is that my face? I had no idea.
Myster is a bit of a silly personality. He's a Hanoverian Thoroughbred cross and a definite throwback to the heavier style of Hanoverian  He's a big sweetheart on the ground, but rather willful and slightly belligerent under saddle. Myster has had some considerable training at one point, and knows just about as much as Guinness; however, he's recently decided that he'd like to never take up contact again. This is what I'm working with him on. It's a good lesson for me, as he insists your hands never move -- something I need practice with for sure! Myster and I typically ride around with constant rein length, me asking him to simply move forward into my hands. Myster thinks this is torture. Once I get a few steps off good stretching movement, I'll typically either end for the day or take a break.
This horse is unique to me. His huge size (16.3hh or close) and big body are amazingly agile. He's very active laterally and often uses haunches-in to evade my requests for forward. Often, he feels like we're just scooting around everywhere. Sort of fun!


Finally, Guinness of course:
What's that you say Mom? Work? Oh no! 
I've been saving Guinness for my last ride. It's a nice feeling to settle into the saddle of my favorite horse, pick up the reins and just know what animal I have under me. He's not predictable, but we're a team. That's something I really treasure after spending time working out some problems.
Funny how time with other horses can remind you how much yours is just right.
I don't ride three horses every day (with a full time job and a barn 30 minutes away, how could I?!), but I try to get these other two ridden at least once a week. I can already feel a difference in the way I relate to Guinness' problems and I've been able to think outside the box a little better where my training is concerned. It's just a nice change.

1 comment:

  1. Alexis rides many different horses, esp young green ones, and I know it helps her when putting a training ride on my Riva or even when giving me a lesson. Sounds like a perfect way to spend the Winter!

    ReplyDelete