Thursday, January 13, 2011

Supermom Ride Review

OK, apparently I didn't hit "publish" yesterday... WHOOPS! sorry for the delay! Here's the recap...

As promised, here's a more in depth review of what all happened on Tuesday Evening, and what lessons/changes I will be taking away for my own behavior.

Supermom started with Pia on the lunge. The intent was to "run the poop out of her," which we did.  Supermom opted for no side reins, and armed herself just with the line and a lunge whip.

P was exploding, so Supermom sent her off right away in the canter and kept her on a fairly small circle (I'm gonna say 12 meters) to make her work harder and to prevent any serious shenanigans.  When she was waggling her head or anything resembling that she got a smack on the ass from the whip, and sent forward.  The circle stayed the same size, and was dictated by how large it could be without "allowing" Pia to fart around too much.

When the head waggling stopped, the circle moved out to about 17 meters... and the mare kept cantering.  Supermom stated that her theory is to let Pia tucker herself out.  So the mare cantered (and cantered, and cantered) until she wanted to break to the trot (then she cantered some more).  The idea being that she'll "tell us" when she's done with her running.  After a few more rounds of waiting for her to break to the trot, then moving back to the canter, Pia was allowed to come down to the trot, although it was a quick one.

Supermom kept her marching right along in a very forward trot for the entirety of the session.  All in all, Pia probably cantered for about 12 minutes, and trotted for another 8-10 before changing direction.

The big change here for me will be replacing my typical sampler of transitions with just "forward" work. Don't fuss with making her go up and down thinking that will get her focused... Instead, send her forward till she's tired, then reiterate that "I" decide what she does and keep her moving.  Same thing in the trot.

The other big change will be how I deal with her "exuberance" when it shows up on the lunge line.  Instead of stopping her and returning to a walk/tugging on her face, the answer will be to send her forward and if necessary, reduce the size of the circle.  Not that I stop her.  But when she's hyper I have tended to "demand" attention at the walk and trot before allowing her to canter.  Also, I make her do lots of upward and downward transitions to make her listen.. rarely have I had P lunge in the canter for more the three or four minutes at a time....

Supermom repeated the same story on the other side, canter till she breaks, canter more till she breaks, canter more, then trot, trot bigger... trot bigger... trot biiiiggger, then stop.

We did a pretty fast "change" from lunging to riding, which put Supermom up in the saddle within probably 2 minutes of pulling Pia up off the lunge.  As soon as she was mounted, Supermom went straight off into the trot, and up into a canter as soon as she could.

This is something I've never attempted.  My usual M.O. is to get on, walk for 5-10 minutes, covering both directions and adding in serpintines and loops to slowly get Pia listening and on my aids.  My thought has always been to wait until her neck is soft and she's relaxed (often when I get on she winds herself up and has a tense neck and rigidly pointed ears..).

Supermom's theory was that the long loose walk puts P in charge a bit.  She feels like she's "done" and gets to walk all loosey-goosey around the ring with her head wherever she wants.  By getting on and going, Supermom got to assert that she was in charge and that the mare was GOING FORWARD.  Also, she was counting on the fact that P can't have that big a fit when she's already in a forward canter (true).

So off they went.  Pia threw in a couple hops, but no big bucks or other objections.  She was forward from the start and I think they probably logged more canter laps than I've managed in the last couple weeks combined. :)  Supermom even made her change rein in the canter and struggle through a change (ha, ha!).  Good mare.

After P was listening, Supermom brought her back to the trot but kept the same "forward" mindset.  Lots of leg, and quick to the whip if P was hesitating.  I didn't catch Pia's couple outbursts on video (darn it), but there were a couple cow kicks at the whip which resulted in a SWIFT tight circle and some serious lacings from Supermom.

That's another opportunity for change on my part.  Circle, and whip.  I back off on the whip sometimes because P is already standing dead still, which gives her lots of options for bucking/rearing/etc.  When she's spinning in a circle, she can't manage the same acrobatics.  I remain slightly envious of Supermom's ability to prevent the absolute "stop," so I'm hoping to replicate that.

I did mention the fact that often I end up "stuck" and can't even get her to circle.  Supermom's response was that should that happen, I'm to get off, put then mare on the lunge and run her off her legs again.

Essentially, the moral of the story is that any time the mare ignores me or is disobedient, she works HARDER.  If I can accomplish that under saddle with a hand gallop, or tight circle, great.  If I can't, get off and lunge the snot out of her.  Then remount and try again... Any stickiness? get off and lunge the snot out of her. (wash, rinse, repeat)

Hopefully she's a quick learner and gets the message that just listening is the easier (and ultimately lazier) option.

Supermom didn't have to get off (obvi. that's why she's super, duh), but she did have a few rounds of "reminding" why P should listen the first time when asked for something. 

This includes spooking.

At one point, P sorta shied in the corner and tried to scoot sideways.  It wasn't a big shy, but it wasn't part of the Supermom plan.  So she got spun and wacked and guess what?  On the next pass through the corner... she didn't miss a beat.

So, I must keep repeating - any time the mare ignores me or is disobedient, she works HARDER.

That's mostly it.  If I can stick to that, and avoid giving Pia any opportunity to think that she's in charge, I think we're good.

I think....

Here are the promised videos.  I tried to swap the audio so that you don't have to listen to me shouting into the microphone as I "talk" with Supermom during the ride... but I'm not sure the clips are totally done with the process.. I apologize if they are not.  Also, there's always the fun Russian Roulette of what songs we'll get to hear! I particularly enjoyed the "spa tunes" that ended up replacing my shrieks on the Fall video...

Stay tuned for more info on what my Vet had to say, and also a fun mystery present from the ever concerned Dad!


  1. It is awesome that you have supermom to come and visit and help determine what is going on. Why did she sell Pia? Did she know she was a wobbler?

  2. It's a serious life saver. She's talked me off a few ledges in the past year :)

    Supermom got rid of Miss P because as big life decisions (like marriage) happened, her herd needed to downsize. Since she's currently kicking ass in Dressage with her Arabs (and P can't play at the breed shows), Pia got the boot. :)

    She definitely didn't know about the wobbler thing. That one surprised all of us!

  3. Wow that does look like a bad attitude! She acts so pissy at times. I hope it is the hormones and that the regumate can get her regulated and feeling better. I know what it can be like to be at the mercy of your hormones and it totally sucks. It would be no fun to have to ride like that all of the time either, so I do really hope the hormones help. Keep us updated on how things go with your new STPs.

  4. Boy, she's a grumpy thing. I really hope it all works out just like you want it too.

  5. Glad you got lots of input on what to do with her. She seems like a tough mare, but you're doing right by her, and that's what counts. Forward is always a good thing to teach a horse, letting them learn that moving past an issue is the answer. I'd be very careful about trying to 'tucker her out'. While lunging and moving out to actually WORK are great approaches, any time you try to tire a horse out before you ride it, you just get a really fit animal that requires more and more riding before it comes down. It seems like you're developing a careful balance, so that's great. Keep up the great work :)


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