Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Stop and go

I got out to the barn today for the first time since I spent the evening there on the Fourth of July, just to keep tabs on the horses. (They did fine, by the way — a little jumpy, but they had plenty of hay to keep them occupied.)

I have a lot of work to do today, so I wasn't sure how much time I would spend out there — but after grooming him I decided to go ahead and squeeze in a quick bareback ride. It was my first ride in probably about a week.

Panama has a bad habit of starting to walk forward when I'm mounting or as I'm getting settled. I'd wondered if it was to compensate for my weight as I mounted, but he does it even when I use the fence to mount. I think he needs to learn to wait for my command to walk. He's also not very good at stopping quickly on whoa, or staying stopped until I say to go, and I'm thinking these things are all somewhat related.

So today we worked quite a bit on whoa and stand. With some repetition, I found that I could relax and he would stand still almost indefinitely. Whoa was harder, but I think we're making progress.

One thing I've been trying was something I'd read in Pony Boy's Horse, Follow Closely, but forgot to mention. When talking about anticipation, he says to raise your knees slightly when asking your horse to stop. That seemed odd to me, but when I was riding bareback a couple of weeks ago I tried it — and immediately realized why he said to do that. Raising your knees slightly naturally makes you sit back and deepen your seat, something I've found difficult to do otherwise. And sure enough, Panama is much more sensitive to the command to stop when I raise my knees a little.

Of course, balancing bareback while raising your knees is somewhat challenging, so by the time we had practiced this a bunch, my thighs were quivering with the exertion. Then I decided to wear them out a little more, and we practiced doing turns on the forehand with less reins, as we were doing last time I rode him. He's much better at swinging his rear end to the right than to the left, and I think it took about ten or fifteen minutes to get him to do the latter. By then my legs were so tired that I just had him do it a few more times, and then dismounted and called it a day.

Even if I didn't have a lot of time to ride today, it definitely felt good to get a short ride in. I'm really enjoying riding bareback, and I'm starting to feel a little more confident at it — I might actually try trotting bareback sometime soon!



At July 8, 2009 at 5:54 PM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

It's good to have some kind of goal or lesson plan in store when you go out to ride. I'm trying to get into the habit of picking up one of my horse training books, reading a section, and then using what I learned the next time I ride a horse. My equitation instructor makes me more aware that my horse and I can always do better. He hates sloppy halts. If he sees my horse push his nose out when he halts or take an extra step, he makes us do it over.

At July 8, 2009 at 6:03 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

NM, I think stopping is one of those things that is really easy to get into bad habits with. After all, many of us only stop at the end of the ride, and both we and our horses get used to it and thereby fail to practice stopping.

Panama tends to take several more steps after I ask him to stop, so at this point I'm happy with just ONE extra step! LOL! Eventually we'll get there, but I think this may be the lesson plan for a little while yet.


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