Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Starting Lessons with Shaggy in Tow

Yesterday, I had decided to ride Shaggy. He is a 6 year old gelding with the riding of a 3 year old. He was started as a 3 year old with 60 days, but then only had about 30 days as a 4 year old, and the same as a 5 year old. I just didn’t give him any time.

In August, I started lunging him with the saddle on, but after the 2nd day, he cut the front of his chest. With a 6” cut that went deep, there was nothing to do except rinse it twice a day and let it heal from the inside out. The cut was in an area that couldn’t be stitched. Movement would just pull it apart. After 2 weeks, the cut was amazingly closed. (sorry, I didn’t get pictures of it, and now I wished I would have).

Then, it was the beginning of September, and I had to condition Finny for the next 2 CTR’s. Shaggy went to the back burner. But yesterday morning, something clicked. I was looking out the kitchen window, Shaggy was standing by himself by the fence, looking towards the house. None of the other horses were around. As I continued to look at him, something was telling me that it was time to start working Shaggy again.

I had to go to the store for the morning. I was to have an adult group lesson during the afternoon. When I got home, I decided to get Shaggy out of the lot, saddle and lunge him before the lesson. I wasn’t sure if I would ride him, but at least he would have the saddle on and get used to the arena again.

Shaggy (bay) and Starlet (sorrel)

I pulled Starlet, Chick and Shaggy out of the muddy lot. The 2 adults arrived and we groomed the mud off the 3 horses. At least the mud was dried and came off easily. I thought that was going to be a major job. We saddled and bridled the horses. I had the 2 riders wait to bring their horses out of the stall, as I wanted to free lunge Shaggy.

I brought Shaggy to the arena, tightened his girth, untied the lead rope from the halter, and sent him around the arena. He trotted and loped some, and didn’t buck with the saddle on. Good news. It didn’t take long for him to be winded, as he was out of shape! I stopped him and attached the lead rope on to his halter, preparing to lead him around during the lesson.

The 2 riders brought Starlet and Chick out of the stalls and into the arena. They mounted and we started the lesson, with Shaggy in tow behind me. I had decided to start the lesson, and wait to see if he was going to be calm enough for me to get on at the end of the lesson.

One of the riders had ridden with me as a youth, but this was her first lesson in about 5 years with me. I needed to teach her the Centered Riding basics. The other rider was a middle aged lady that was new to horses and lessons. She has already had 3 or 4 lessons with me in September. Today’s lesson would be a good review for her. As Shaggy walked behind me, and sometimes got in my way as he wanted to visit and be close to his herd mates, I grounded each rider. I taught them how to find their neutral pelvis and to sit centered. We talked about correct breathing.

The riders walked and trotted the arena, working on posting. One new technique for my younger rider was to 2 point, yet keep her center over her “bubbling spring” of her foot, which was the area that we gounded. We will continue to work with that, especially as she is going to be taking jumping lessons with a jumping instructor. She had already realized that she kept her balanced in 2 point if she stayed centered.

My other rider continued to work on using her body to turn the horse. This rider wants to use too much hand and not enough leg and body movement. As she pretended there were flashlights at her shoulders, waist, and knees, she concentrating on moving her “flashlights” as she turned the horses. This made her cue with her legs and she had better turns.

Meanwhile, Shaggy is being exceptionally calm and staying out of my space, after a few reminders with the lead rope to move away. I decided that during free time at the end of the lesson, I would get on him. After I mounted, he perked his ears and we walked off. His turning isn’t very good, and he wanted to lug on the bit, so we will go back to some ground driving. Other then that, we trotted around, and started giving to the bit. I think he is going to be riding well very soon!

I am glad that I decided to get Shaggy out. I have always loved his conformation. He is a big boy, standing 15.3 (I’ll have to stick him to be sure). He has a bigger body than Finny, but then Shaggy is a little overweight right now. I think he will be fun to take to the fields, after a few more rides in the arena.

I think the excitement of riding a different horse is coming back. Shaggy won’t be able to replace Finny, but he is built the same. I love having a tall horse underneath me and Shaggy will be able to move out like Finny. I think I will have fun riding him. Come along on the ride with me!

(I would have added more pictures, but the horses are a muddy mess. The next time I work Shaggy under saddle, I will post pics!)


mrscravitz said...

oooh! I can't wait to see pictures. This is neat you rode Shaggy Today.

Horses are our Lives said...

thanks! I have always liked his looks and personality. I needed to get back to riding him. I probably won't have much time for him until spring, but I hope to get a few days with him this month!


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