Sunday, July 6, 2014

Get Jiggy Wid It

SORRY, couldn't help it.

M, in all of her wonderfulness, gave me a lesson this morning even though she just got back from vacation and I'm sure she'd rather have been weeding or something else to catch up around the farm. I'm so grateful, because it was a very productive lesson. I have a few pictures that weren't from this lesson. My mom came out a week and a half ago and took them for me. That was a better day than today.

As I mentioned the other day, Lex is soooo not into walking. Halt or jig or trot (and the trot is mostly pretty sticky and not great). She is trying to stay behind my leg. Given our recent issues with being nappy and bucking, I am not enthusiastic about this. When I was in Ohio, D always told me "softly forward in front of the leg." She was right, and Lex is not doing that. M reminded me that Lex is not broke to my leg yet, and so that is now the primary goal.

Walking like a normal horse.
The picture above shows how I would like her to walk right now. Calm, forward, stretching through her neck. It's not an A+ walk, but it's good for warming up and cooling out. In an ideal world, she'd be stepping up under herself more and swinging. But I'd take this walk today, believe me.

Today M told me we were just going to work on the walk and nothing else. Despite my love of jumping all the things, I really enjoy these kinds of foundational exercises. We got on a circle to the left and walked on a loose rein until the behavior started. Essentially, I'm to be very clear and not take any shit from the mare. She can't shut down and halt, and she can't tense up and jig. She can walk nicely and on contact. If she is doing that, I soften at the elbows and praise her. If not, I use voice commands in addition to leg and hand to insist that she go where I want her to.

Fashion mane!
The walk is mine, and I get to tell her when to do it. The mare has to follow those orders. When she halts or jigs, she is refusing to use her back and step under. She CAN use her back and step under. She has done it before. But right now, she's saying no. There is nothing physically wrong with her, believe me. When there is, she tries to kill me, hee. Today it was just like, "I don't WANNA." She's testing boundaries like the adolescent she is, and I need to do a better job getting her to respect my leg aids.

"My rider sure is a dum-dum sometimes
but at least she knows where the carrots are."
 We're in a somewhat difficult phase right now, but this is not the first snag we've hit. Not by a long shot. And we've always pushed through. So here's where I stand on this whole thing now, as a benchmark and clarifying exercise:

1. Lex is a fabulous horse. She is brilliant and talented and athletic. I am lucky to own her.

2. I am not afraid of her or intimidated by her, though I am sometimes annoyed. I am definitely not overmounted. M said once, "I am not teaching you how to ride, I'm teaching you how to ride this horse. If I had to teach you to ride, this would be inappropriate." She explicitly agrees that Lex is not too much horse for me, and that it will be rewarding to get through all this nonsense (which I would not get through as effectively without M).

3. She is green, though. When she has more buttons installed, she will be easier to ride, because I will have more options for responding. Sometimes with this shit, the only way past it is through.

4. Given that, there will always be something with her. Any time we introduce her to something new, whether it's using her back or trot poles or whatever, she will be like WHAT THE FUCK and fall behind my leg. My challenge will be to keep her moving forward WITHOUT throwing her head up in the air. This will become easier when she's more broke, as I said.

Remember this?

 I wrote a whole thing about owning a horse like Lex and removed it. I might retool it and publish it as its own thing. But the bottom line is this: She's not for everyone, and I'm lucky to have the help I've had and continue to have with her. To ride a horse like her, you've got to want it, and I totally do. Happy horse owner here, even on the tough days. She is so worth it.


  1. It's always the good ones that prove to be the most challenging. At least they're worth it :)

    1. Exactly so. She is well worth it. The best horse I've ever had, by far.

  2. It's so hard to separate out that babying "but I looooove her" on the ground from the actual under saddle ride. As S is always telling me, they know the difference. It's ok to be their friend on the ground, but you have to be the boss in the saddle.

    Haha, and Lex has to believe you. ;-)

  3. So, so many people neglect the walk as a gait to be worked on, so I'm SUPER glad to hear you're putting in the effort to get it where it needs to be. <3