Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Many Faces of A Baby Thoroughbred

For anyone who has restarted an ottb in dressage, you would be familiar with the many faces of an opinionated young thoroughbred learning about contact.
"OMGAAA"
Honestly, to some degree, you just have to laugh while your horse makes faces... lots of faces. All of them awkward.
"QUIT LAUGHING AT ME!"
While some horses are very comfortable from the first minute moving into contact, many others rebel against the idea they are expected to hold the bit at all time. Those who rebel can often be quite, ahem, expressive about it.
"PLEASE SEND HELP!"
Of course, as a rider, you simply have to sit quiet and wait things out.
"COME ON MAN! I'M LITERALLY SNARLING HERE!"
It takes a lot of concentration to keep the rein pressure neutral but present and welcoming, and to keep the horse moving forward into your accepting hand.
"NOT ACCEPTING ENOUGH!"
This stage of training can feel like it lasts literally forever. Thankfully, experience tells me that this too shall pass.
"AIN'T NOTHIN PASSING BETWEEN THESE CLENCHED JAWS, LADY"
The important thing is to not get discouraged, stay loose and mentally present, don't get aggressive, and keep going forward. While it might take days, or even weeks to months (especially if you're Pig and very set in your ways), the end result is worth the time investment.
"YOU'RE WILLING TO DO THIS FOR A MONTH?!?!"
For anyone else out there working on teaching their reluctant and stubborn baby horse about accepting contact, I hope you can take some heart in these photos. We all go through the awkward phase sometimes. Not all training is pretty from day one. Stick with it, and stay patient.
"IS THIS EVEN REAL LIFE?!"
... and don't forget to keep laughing!

16 comments:

  1. Hah. Those faces are hysterical. And yeah, been there. actually...still there sometimes. lol.

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    1. I think I had to basically re-do this training once every other month with Pig. Lol.

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  2. Thanks for the honest photos! It's discouraging when photos from rides show open mouth gaping that would be cringe-worthy in a dressage test, it's nice to know that better riders than I have the same struggles in early retraining :-)

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    1. Yep! We all are still riding horses, and horses are silly opinionated things.

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  3. I love your stone cold focus... You just have to power through but man it's tough!

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  4. Thanks for posting this...my little mare has been trying to renegotiate the contact (moving up to second and the wheels fell off with both forward and round - can have one but not the other currently) and sometimes I feel pretty alone in the struggle!

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    1. Totally not alone! You'll get there. Just stick with it!

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  5. I love the stark difference in your stoic face and his #*()&)#(&(*%!*%#(*& faces.

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    1. Haha, sometimes I sit up there and just whistle to distract myself.

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  6. Replies
    1. No matter how many times I go through this process, it gives me the cold sweats. Lol

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  7. Oh man, this is great. I needed it today!

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  8. Baby horses make some real noise sometimes lol

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