Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Oh sh**. It's my fault.

Why is this so hard?
Canter departs on Bast have been a struggle bus. For, like, ever. The whole process of training them has been a total roller coaster, but right now I feel like they should be better than they are.
Departs in October 2017
When he first came home, the departs were a leap into a gallop. Not unusual for a horse newly off the track. As time went on, we began to experiment with leads and more balanced departs. While the launch has become slightly more contained, it's not yet gone. In fact, it's occasionally getting worse.
Average departs now. (Video from March 2018)
See, we've been struggling with picking up the correct lead. Part of this was due to left over hematoma from Bast's fence injury working out. Part was due to a lack of confirmation in lead pick up cue training. Part was ... well. Uh. Is. Um. Me.
Me. Biffing it up.
In a recent lesson my tendency to throw myself at my little horse in the depart was brought up. I explained that habit began when he and I started struggling to pick up the correct lead. It's not an ideal solution, and not really working. So, I'm working on fixing it. 

In a recent ride, Bast began bolting off in his departs. First picking up the cross canter, then bolting into a change behind. I started experimenting with different tactics to keep this from happening.

First, I identified he was tossing out his outside shoulder and stiffening his neck or even bending to the outside. I tried just holding his inside rein and demanding he hold the bend and keep his neck flexible. However, he started just getting more explosive and still was busting out through his outside shoulder.
Fling the head? Check. Fall on inside shoulder? Check. Bust out through outside aids? Check. Ugh.
Instead of fiddling more, I experimented with taking my own aids out of the equation. I noticed the problem was worse to the left, so I lengthened my outside rein a touch and grabbed my pommel strap with that hand. I then asked for the canter, making sure to sit the trot a step or two and actually stay balanced and lift for the aid. Bast happily stepped right into the correct lead.

Oh. Huh.

I repeated a few more times before switching directions and repeating the miracle the other way.
Hmm. So about that...
These results made it clear the problem is with me. I'm pretty sure I'm both restricting his motion with my hands (pulling with the outside rein) and not sitting enough in the depart so he's losing his direction part way through. Neither mistake is great, but both are fixable. I'm hoping spending more time paying attention to my own position and following hands will help us develop better departs all the time.
A recent example of a nice depart. Let's try to make these all like this!
Anyone else have a problem with your horse that is almost entirely your creation? I know I'm not alone out here! Let's share the hilariously wrong things we keep doing with our horses and learn from each other.

22 comments:

  1. About that- turns out that my horse’s inability to bend right is all me- I stiffen my left thigh. Seems that when I loosen it she steps right through. Sigh. Also if I give the inside rein on 15 m canter circles she doesn’t use it to carry herself.

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    1. For my horses the problem is often from me overhastling the right leg, so they are hollow there. Recently started riding a friend's horse, that friend has an injury to the right leg, and I'm like OMG! Is this what it's like to be my complete opposite? Because I KNOW this isn't me. Both my horses have the exact opposite problem.🤣

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    2. Same here, my horse's inability to bend right was all me as well, though it was because my outside rein was too strong. Huh. Imagine that. Thankfully I have worked through that issue this past spring, but I still sometimes have to catch myself from using the left outside rein as an emergency brake (for what, I have no idea because my horse is pretty mellow LOL).

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  2. I feel like pretty much all of my horse's issues are entirely my own creation. lol

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    1. Lol. Oh, I know mine are! It's just rare to have that correlation be so freaking obvious. Haha! I wish they all were so easy to see!

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  3. i had the exact same problem with indy's canter transitions. turns out if you sit straight and hold really still, he'll pick up a perfectly balanced canter.

    too bad i never do that...

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    1. Ugh. Straight and balanced? Sounds hard.

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  4. My horse can always pick up her right lead canter--except when I am sitting on her. lol

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    1. Bahaha! That's usually a good sign it's you!

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  5. I have this really embarrassing issue where about once a year I CANNOT pick up the correct canter leads to save my life. Doesn't matter which direction, and it happens on multiple horses so it's definitely me. I just have to ignore it until it goes away. SUPER annoying and extremely embarrassing

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  6. ALL the problems with Hampton are my creation. Because he is a unicorn. :) You are an excellent thinking rider to have found the issue. That is the difference between average and good, so many riders would just keep going and doing the wrong thing forever.

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  7. I will never forget the day I sat on a different horse after riding Tristan exclusively for months, and...that horse was also blocked and stiff in its left rein. DAMN IT.

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  8. My horse likes to put me off to the left and throw her shoulder out to the right in the left canter depart, resulting in an angry canter depart. We just fixed that and there is no more angry pony in that regards.

    We just caught an other me issue last night in a lesson that we are fixing and the five minutes we worked on it, it sure made a huge difference!

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    1. I LOVE when we can fix those problems!

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  9. I struggled with Ramone and the correct canter depart, turns out yeah I was also death gripping 1 rein (and letting his haunches fall out). Like you said fixable problem but one that requires much concentration! lol

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    1. IDK why they have such a problem with the death grip...

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  10. Trainer: Both your horses like to pop their right shoulder and be overbent left in the exact same way.
    Me: I wonder why that could possibly be...??? *innocent blink*

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    Replies
    1. Obv due to the gremlins that ride them at night. Obv.

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  11. I'm impressed with the critical thinking skills you used to figure this out. I usually throw my hands in the air and go, "I know it's me but I don't know why."
    I CANNOT jump straight. We jump left. Every. Single. Time.
    As of last week's clinic, I also have photographic evidence of my inability to use my leg without raising my heel, thereby pushing me forward and tossing my horse onto his forehand, where he inverts and puts his head up so I don't die because he is a saint and I'm like, "But why is he a giraffe?!"

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