Friday, June 10, 2011

Letting go

I'm sorry for the dearth of posts lately.  I had a lesson and maybe a ride a couple of weeks ago, plus a visit to work with my in-laws' horses, that I didn't blog about, but most of the long break has been because I wasn't actually doing anything horsey to write about.

Tuesday evening of this week, I finally got out to the barn to visit Panama.  I didn't end up riding, just groomed him and braided his mane (he's been rubbing it off by sticking his head through the fence to graze, so I'm trying to prevent).  I did go out and ride for about half an hour Wednesday morning — nothing too exciting, just basic walk-trot-canter, and making sure he was going to listen and focus after nearly 2 weeks' vacation.  He was reasonably good, but I could detect an undercurrent of annoyance that I'm sure meant he was unhappy with me for being gone for so long.

Then we had our lesson yesterday.  We rode inside, since the weather was threatening rain (though it never followed through with that threat).  We were mainly working on my equitation, until my trainer suddenly asked me when I was trotting Panama, "What would happen if you let go of the reins right now?"

I laughed and said, "He would take off!"

I've always thought that was just characteristic of Panama, but apparently my trainer doesn't actually want him to be that way.  Go figure, right?  So for the rest of the lesson she had me practice using a couple of half halts to slow his pace, and then letting go of his face and letting him figure out on his own how to maintain a constant speed.

I was shocked to find that it worked.  The first few times I "let go," of course, he didn't realize what was going on and sped up.  But then he and I quickly fell into a routine where we could maintain the same pace without the constant contact with his face.  And, amazingly, I found that half-halts work so much better when he and I aren't engaged in a constant tug-of-war.

It may seem like a simple thing to some of you, but it feels like a minor breakthrough for me and Panama.  I'm looking forward to working on it some more in the coming week!



At June 10, 2011 at 6:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Letting go is so powerful -I'm doing a post right now on "allowing" - it's so important.

At June 11, 2011 at 2:09 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Kate, I read about your accident on Buckskin and Bay. I know it'll probably be a little while before you're blogging again, but I'm thinking of you! My fingers are crossed for a speedy recovery!


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