I finally got back out to the barn on Saturday. Update: Tuck still looks the same. Boy did I miss that face!
In other news Tucker has a new stall. My horse is kind of a dork. He broke his stall door a few weeks ago because he didn’t get turned out. The story goes that he was leaning on his stall door and somehow bent a large section of it back.
I’ve also been informed that he’s been lunging out at horses that walk by. His old stall was right in front of the grooming stalls so there was a lot of traffic. Not acceptable Tuck! He’s now been moved to a stall with a higher and sturdier door. He had better behave himself!
In riding news, I’ve had a bit of a lead change revelation. Lead changes are a pit of a stress for me. I’m not really sure why. I think that I understand the mechanics of them.
We don’t usually have much problem switching right to left but left to right can sometimes be sticky.
The other day a Practical Horseman article came across my Facebook news feed. 15 Riding Tips from George Morris. I don’t usually bother reading stuff about riding. Not because I don’t want to but because I just can’t learn that way.
I have trouble following what the words are telling me to do with my horse to get a particular result. I need coaching and actual riding to learn.
But I clicked on the link. I assumed I’d be skimming the article and not really take anything away from it. But I was wrong.
It was written in such a way that even my brain could figure out how to make the points work for me. Love that!
In particular point 9: Stay Straight in Flying Changes, stood out for me. Stay straight. Really?!?! For so long I’ve been working on creating shape as per Coach G (or maybe as per my interpretation). Now I don’t think G is wrong. Not in the least. But maybe I could figure out a hybrid that would create smoother/easier changes.
“Keep the horses absolutely straight using the inside leg at the girth to outside rein”. It took me a little while to figure this one out. Yes I know the difference between inside and outside. But for so long the focus has been on inside indirect rein against Tuck’s neck. So I had to flip my brain around. It took some serious concentrating.
“When the riders asked for the change, he told them to change just their aids, moving their new inside leg to the girth and pushing with it”. Once I figured out how to keep my brain from flipping back to old habits of bending to the inside (too much) this was easy. It was simple matter of switching the aids to new inside leg and new outside rein.
“He said too many people just grab the new inside rein to ask for the change, making the horse crooked and often late with the change behind”. Yes exactly! This is exactly part of where I had been going wrong. Even going our good way I would occasionally notice that I’d hang off the inside rein, bending Tuck WAY to much to ask for the change. “He wanted the horse to make the changes exclusively from the riders’ leg aids. It’s cheating if you use your hands”.
I asked for lead changes twice in each direction on both Saturday and Sunday. Going across the diagonal and going straight down the centre of the ring.
Step 1: Develop a rhythm.
Step 2: Concentrating on inside leg to outside rein.
Step 3: Make the turn across the diagonal or down centre.
Step 4: Keep concentrating on the aids.
Step 5: Slowly change to new inside leg and outside rein.
Step 6: Canter around the turn in the new direction. Walk and pat your horse for being perfect.
Step 7: Repeat because you can’t believe how easy that was.
8 changes in all. And he nailed every one. The takeaway from this is that this is an easy method if you’re not jumping and have lots of space to work all this out in. How am I going to work this into a course… I’m not really sure yet. But I think I’m going to continue with creating the “pocket” that G teaches and at the same time concentrate on keeping a feel of the outside rein and NOT so much inside rein (which I’m sure is not really G’s method but for some reason just the way my brain interpreted it). Trial and error.