Friday, November 12, 2010

Draw reins

Panama and I had a pretty decent lesson today.  It was the first time we had ridden since Tuesday, when it was raining and sleeting.  I had wanted to ride inside, but they were grooming the arena, so we had to ride outside — which meant dealing with Panama's increased distractability.

He was pretty good at first — not too fast, and listening to me despite the fact that he was, as usual, pretty distracted.  But I guess the longer he is distracted, the less he uses his brain.

My trainer has been observing lately that he is throwing his head up when we transition downward.  I think he seems to do this more outside, probably because he carries his head higher to begin with when he is distracted, and high + higher = really high.  Whatever the reason, though, today my trainer had me ride with draw reins.

They did get the desired effect, but I noticed that Panama's anxiety level also went up a bit, probably because he wasn't sure about them.  I didn't like having another set of reins to manage, though, so I was probably throwing off some uncertain/anxious vibes, too.  I learned a few things about coordination (and continuing to ask for his head to be down while braking), though.  I am going to ride again tomorrow, without the draw reins, and see if I can get the same headset by asking a little more consistently with just the regular reins.

By the way, I've noticed lately that Panama has been very good.  It's been a while since he has done anything stupid or bolted unexpectedly.  Maybe he just went through a spastic stage.  In any case, he has been behaving himself nicely lately, and has been really cute, too!  When I arrived this morning to take off his blanket, he was trying to play bitey face through the fence with Tina the calf (not sure if he really wanted to play, or was trying to chase her off some of "his" hay that got tossed outside the fence, but either way she wasn't going for it!).  I sat in my car and worked for a bit until my lesson, and he periodically went to the gate and stared at me, as if saying, "I'm waiting...  When are you coming to get me?"  He has so much personality — I love it when I get the good side of him for a while!



At November 12, 2010 at 8:12 PM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I'm glad you are enjoying him. My trainer had me use draw reins at one point and I felt so much more in control that I bought myself a beautiful pair. My neighbor saw me riding with them and she came over to give me a piece of her mind, saying I should never use them on a horse. They've been hanging in my trailer untouched ever since. Bombay has since learned to get his head set and push from behind when I squeeze my legs, so he doesn't need them, but I'm sure Gabbrielle will need them at some point. She's a bit of a giraffe.

At November 12, 2010 at 9:28 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

NM, saying you shouldn't use draw reins is like saying you shouldn't use a bit. Most of the tools we use with horses can be mean in the wrong hands, which makes it difficult to determine whether the tool is mean, or the hands. I don't think draw reins are mean if you use them right, but I personally don't want to depend on them for control, particularly since I feel so awkward using them! However, if you feel better riding with them, and you feel confident that you are not being mean or using them wrong, then you have a right to use them, no matter what your neighbor says.

Oh, and I think Gabbrielle and Panama must come from the same girabian line. For as short a neck as he's got, he is a MASTER at getting his head way up in the air! :o)


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