Sunday, March 1, 2009

Chenango ride

I took the day to ride with Jen (one of my very best friends) and Amy from Chenango. Jen has been looking for ways to get better with her horse on the trail and she and Amy ride together all the time. Another Chenango gal came along and rode Amy's 2nd horse.

I wasn't sure what to expect and I was really focused on giving Jen a boost of tools to use with her horse. I was pretty serious the first half, trying to help Jen and focused on her being safe and successful. The other riders were socializing and it worked out pretty well to be paired off. We did a lot of walking, stopping, and talking. It was the right thing to help Jen progress.

We were out for a few hours and made our way to Antelope. I started to get the itch to make some changes with my horse and she had so much GO she was holding on to. I found a place to work on transitions, a little confidence gaming with a run-down playground, some leading, some following. I rode in a rope hack and wished I'd had my bridle. We needed it. I found myself bracing against her a few times and tried to quickly adjust. She was not comfortable or confident much of the ride, but she worked on staying calm. She was happiest out in front of the group.

It was my first time riding Z in weeks and I'm honestly not sure if I put in black or white marbles yesterday. Maybe some of both. When we first started to canter, she was not happy and I need to investigate if that's coming from a discomfort or a general unhappiness in how I'm asking/riding. She cantered with a better look after a while and we worked on canter/walk transitions for a bit.

At one point, the group got a little ahead and Jen needed me to stay back so that her horse didn't rush to catch up. We were going up a steep hill. I started to hold Z back and she started to buck. I wish I could have ridden her hard yesterday.

In the end, it was a great day and it was good for Z and I to take it slow. I'm so motivated and ambitious and I don't need to trail socializing time like some. I want to get out with my horse and make some positive changes. I want to progress! Maybe I need to find time to hang with a group and not try to strive for something? I do that with Rain, but with Z I am all about making it better.

Last thing, I think getting to a bridleless point on the trail with Z is a ways off. We can do it in an arena but on the trail, with a group of horses, her down transition is not there. That was interesting to discover. Maybe because I haven't ridden her in weeks? Or because she has ridden in a group so few times? Or because she was worried?

Anyway, eye-opening and we'll keep progressing.


Alice said...

Tia, how do you cue down transitions without a bridle? Weight only? Verbal?

Tia Jones said...

Hi there- I don't really use verbal cues with my horses. When teaching a down transition bridleless, I use the same idea as an up transition - it's all in my body language. With a down transition, I basically stop riding and suck my energy back. My horses tend to feel my seat and energy change and they slow down. When they don't, a typically hard thing for my Anglo-Arab, I pick up 1 rein and ask for it that way. After some practice, even she understands that when I stop riding and bring my life down, she should to. With an up transition, it's the same idea - I bring my life up, walk, trot or canter in my body and my horse will do the same. I don't kick to go, I ask my horse to pay good attention to my subtle cues, then reinforce it with some commotion from the saddle (slap my leg, slap the saddle with a string, etc...). Eventually, even a dull horse understands life in the rider's body means it's time to move. It's amazing the harmony you can get with a horse when you get very subtle! Thanks for asking - I love questions!

Alice said...

That is awesome. I ride a school horse whose many and varied experiences make him immune to subtle cues. :-) He is especially reluctant to trot near the beginning of our lessons, but it always gets better as each lesson progresses. Down transitions are no problem--he likes those better. :-) But riding without a bridle is a ways off for me I think. :-) Thanks for taking time to explain!