Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Stay in the Half Halt

When I got to the barn this morning, Lex was out in the paddock eating grass with her pet pony, Scout (affectionately known as Scout Wonderful, because that's what his ten year old owner wrote on his stall card at a Pony Club rally). Enjoy some serious cuteness. I texted Tracy some of these and she said, "OMG, please tell me at some point you will get to ride that pony!"

On Wednesdays, we wear pink.

You can only wear your hair in a ponytail
once a week, so I guess you chose today.

That's why her hair is so big. It's full of secrets.

Stop trying to make "fetch" happen.

We had another great lesson today. Since we're clinging to the bottom of the training scale, the whole job is rhythm, and part of that is her accepting contact (because we can't stay in a rhythm if I'm not allowed to use my aids). Mary said the problem a lot of riders have is staying in the half halt long enough for it to work. So whenever she said, "Have the conversation," I was to use an indirect outside rein (and I love the indirect INSIDE rein, because I'm a jumper rider--already the disciplines are deviating) and an opening inside rein and hold that until she gives. She did exactly what we expected her to do, which was put her head up and resist, but whenever she gave in I'd soften in the elbows and it would be lovely for a couple strides and then we'd have to start over. But she'll get it. She wasn't being naughty ever, she just didn't know what to do. She'll learn eventually that the easiest thing to do is not resist. When she gets it, it's amazing--her withers lift and she steps under. Mary is like, "Dressage. It's going to have to happen eventually."

Of course, we have to be able to get that soft contact and lifted withers without her immediately speeding up! Ah, baby steps.

But the canter was better than ever today. Mary would say, "Canter like you're about to walk," and somehow the magic words fixed the rushing problem. The beginning of the canter was exciting both directions, but we got it under control MUCH more quickly than usual.

The take-home point today was to stick with what you're asking until the horse gives it to you. This is why I worry about green riders and green horses, even quiet green horses: if the rider doesn't have a clear idea of what the horse is supposed to be doing AND to keep asking in the same way until the horse gets it, both horse and rider are going to end up confused at best. I think I'm getting exactly the kind of help I need, just in the nick of time, to help get Lex to the next step. I'm so excited.

PS: Just in case you didn't get enough cute above, here is my nephew brushing my old guy, Ink.


4 comments:

  1. Nice quotes! Lex looks happy with her new friend.

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    1. I shamelessly love Mean Girls.

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  2. " This is why I worry about green riders and green horses, even quiet green horses: if the rider doesn't have a clear idea of what the horse is supposed to be doing AND to keep asking in the same way until the horse gets it, both horse and rider are going to end up confused at best." story of my eventing life! ;]

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