Thursday, June 7, 2012

Three Good Hacks and Blogger Woes

Some of you may have noticed a few (dozen) posts pop up yesterday.  Although it's conceivable that I could have actually regurgitated that much material about my ponies in one day, even I have to do my "real job" sometimes.. plus, let's face it as cute as they are, they aren't that interesting.

What I think happened was that in adding labels to some old posts they "re-posted" as fresh resulting in a nice little time warp back to 2010 and 2011.

Anyway, I think I fixed it, but sorry for spamming your google readers!

P2 has had a great week.  She got a really light hack Monday, which I felt she deserved after her field trip on Saturday and a day of rest on Sunday.  Prairie felt great - and aside from some less than stellar canter transitions (they mirrored the ones in the "test" video from the Park ride, she was really dialed in and pretty light to my aids.  Tuesday - S had the ride, but I had the chance to get out to the barn and watch P2 from the ground.

I find it so informative to watch someone else (particularly a good someone else) ride your horse.  It makes it so easy to really "see" what's going on as well as to observe how someone else schools your horse through sticky points.  S warmed P2 up really fantastically and then focused on her trot/canter transitions for a majority of the ride.  It was great to watch P2 go up and down and UP and down so many times.  It was also great to watch the difference in transitions based on how well S set her up and how tuned in the mare was.  I tried to file away as much info as possible and remember it for my own ride the next day.

Since I didn't actually leg up on Tuesday I thought I'd torture the pony a bit, so I braided her mane over in an attempt to coax it all back over to one side of her neck.. (grrrr).  The mare was tolerant of the beauty shop session, but clearly not impressed.
Poor Mare.  She was not a fan of her "Spring Break Cancun!" look...
Wednesday I was eager to hack on my own and try to apply all the "visual notes" from watching S.  Namely that meant a few more "take 2...3.. give 2...3.." half halts with both reins to steady P2's tempo and throwing in shoulder/haunches-in to realign the mare and capture her shoulder.  Those two little "tune ups" thrown in at irregular intervals seemed really effective in keeping Prairie balanced and steady, which in turn lead to really soft and easy transitions.

I was a bit leery since I arrived at the barn just in time to see horses being brought in and grain fed... Prairie's magic DISTRACTO-BEAST combination.. which I didn't really feel like fighting with.

But, because she's a big, giant, teddy bear, she politely ignored the grain cart as it rumbled past her in the cross ties and held it together for our whole ride.  We warmed up with a bit more tension than she had with S on Tuesday, but all in all very together and lovely.  I started with lots of walk/halts and then trot/walk/trots to get her really light up front and paying attention.

Oh, also I decided to tack up in S's hunt saddle and see if it gave me any advantage in my balance and Prairie's relaxation...It might be the placebo effect, or it might be that my Prestige does such awful things to my balance that I do actually give her a better ride  in something else, but I was feeling really, really well connected to the mare.

Prairie did have a few big looks out the gates when we would trot by, but aside from rushing a bit, she didn't let it derail her much.  If the "take 2...3...give..2..3..." half halts didn't rebalanced her, I just pushed her into a (tight) 3 loop serpentine to back her off and lighten the shoulder.  That proved to be a really helpful tool for me in getting her back without getting duped into letting her hang on my hand.  (Something I filed away to test again since it's proof of success relies on n = 1...)

After about 20 minutes I started our canter work and got the smoothest transitions ever out of P2 that I've had to date.  No rushing, no inverting, nothing.  I could probably add "no impulsion" to that list, but right now I'll accept a little sluggish and balanced over "expressive" and scooting.  I got to the point were we would Canter, 2, 3, 4, Trot, 2, 3, 4, Canter, 2, 3, 4, Trot, 2, 3, 4.. with no break in rhythm or balance.

I almost peed my pants.

After that I started throwing in a whole bunch of "test like" movements to see if I still had her transitions in my pocket when she was thinking about other stuff.. we lost a bit of the polish that we had, but in reality, we were still light years ahead of how I was riding the same transitions a week ago. I think that's rad.

I finished with a few square halts, a big pat and that really calm feeling after an easy, productive ride.

Love that.


  1. Cool!

    I bet you are right about the saddle. It really can make a night and day difference.

  2. You know... while you're in hunter tack and all, you could just point the mare at a jump... ;)

    Sounds like you had a great ride! I love that feeling. I like the "capture the shoulder" image too, going to remember that.


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