Small Steps for Long Legs

Lessons and more lessons for me and for the ponies. Jazz and Storm both have had one formal lesson each this week. It is interesting having the contrast of a horse at the beginning of his career as a beginner/baby and another who is fairly well established and on his way, all the time striving for more and more perfect movements and paces.

Storm has been on flying form this week. I tried in his briefly in his jointed pelham at the beginning of the week. It is a new thing I am trying with him occasionally. As he is fully understanding of the aids and is not tense or panicked in any way whilst being schooled I wondered if it would be a useful tool to drop in every so often when he becomes a little resistant when asked for more self-carriage and collection. Double reins allows me to tweak and softly encourage more vertical flexion and then release very quickly when he is correct. I can be very soft and allowing with my hands as he is responsive. I am aware the bit could potentially be quite harsh and strong if used incorrectly but I feel it has benefitted him enormously in pushing through his rusty phase as when I switched back to my usual snaffle, particularly in the canter he was as light as a butterfly and supple. It surprised me to a degree as I just wasn’t expecting such a good reaction. Very pleased with our new discovery this week. Hopefully it will not need to be used frequently but if he is getting slightly resistant and I am having to pull too much on his mouth with his snaffle, soft hands might be better using the pelham in future as he hates being pulled around in his mouth and I do not enjoy or feel it is right to do that either.

Jazz has had a good week. Every day when I am riding him, we are learning something new. Be it a behaviour thing or physically being schooled or reinforcing lessons from previous days. He has already improved in his straightness which is essential to everything else. I cannot say I am completely relaxed on him yet as I am with Storm or Dice but this is most likely because I simply do not know him well enough yet. Today he went out for his first proper ride. I think riding out to begin with can be quite daunting. Truly I didn’t feel so bad once I was on him and going. He had horses gallop in the fields next to him and he raised his head but did not move his legs, which was extremely reassuring.

He did however, 3 times try and spin and turn for home. Luckily it wasn’t a particularly sharp spin, nor did he shoot off once he turned the time he fully turned. Even this did not rattle me too much as I am not a great fan of spinning as I think it can lead to rearing which unnerves me an awful lot. He tried twice more after this but I managed to catch him and calmly but firmly turned him back to face the way he was going so really he only managed a half spin. Part of the problem was the pony we went out with is very slow and he remained behind him at these points. Jazz is low on confidence out like that so really I need to be taking him out with a more forward, confidant horse so he learns to be brave too. These spins all occurred within the first 10 minutes of an hours ride so once I managed to keep him moving it was less of an issue. He does tend to look round an awful lot at everything which has the potential to frighten himself. I think this is down to the fact he is young and has followed out riding for a long time.

He needs to have more confidence in me as his leader if he has not got the confidence in himself and hopefully this will come with time. He trotted along and was ok trotting  though he did so alongside the other pony so that gave him a bit of confidence. He stood still very well to allow cars to pass which is important. Fidgeting is frustrating and can occasionally be a little dangerous if they fidget in front of vehicles. I quite enjoyed my ride on him though I have to concentrate a lot on what I am doing and what he is doing. It is hard to switch off and relax when I have to be conscious on everything and feel his reactions to them.

To prevent any future napping behaviour we rode past the entrance to the farm, carrying on up the lane the other way at a deliberate fast walk going away from the farm and a very slow and steady walk turning to come back towards the farm. By this time he was nicely relaxed and in front of the other pony. This is encouraging as it shows it is in him to stay calm. I must commit to taking him out more frequently so he gets used to everything and settles with his surrounds but most importantly so he learns to listen to my instruction and realise what I ask comes above all other things no matter how scary.

I have had a few moments since we got back that make me feel nervous. I am not sure why. I genuinely was comfortable with the ride today and happy to trot etc. I was pleased with him and pleased to have prevented any more spinning for most of the ride. Yet, suddenly thinking back on it I feel nervous and like I don’t want to take him again which is completely the opposite of how i felt when I actually returned. Maybe I am overthinking too much. Maybe I am imagining the worst case of what might have happened regarding the spins. It’s frustrating. I will spoil it for myself if I am not careful.

To take a leaf our of my friend and yard neighbours’ book, “I want to do one brave thing every day with my horses”. So she does. She suffers from nerves yet is incredibly brave goes hunting twice a week over decent fences and events in the summer. But she pushes herself out of her comfort zone and makes it happen and ends up having tremendous success when she does. I think  I need to be like her. Realise I am a capable rider and nothing untoward has happened and it is well within my knowledge and capabilities to feel  and know when something might happen and to prevent it happening or, as I did today. Calmly manage the situation that makes me uncomfortable and be a little braver. If I don’t try I won’t know and I won’t grow. Small steps! Small steps for Jazz’s long legs. Even if we just go a little farther each time we go out in company for a few months.

HACKING AIMS:

  • Zero Spins
  • More relaxation than tension
  •  Less looking around and more focus on what I am asking
  • Keep in front of my leg and forwards

4 goals to stick too. Small steps for long legs.

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The gorgeously, beautiful frost that made everything on the farm sparkle. img_2432

Jazz waiting for his lesson not feeling to enthusiastic about leaving bed for the cold morning.

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Seriously artsy shot. Storms’ neck crossed with sunlight at dusk. 

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Getting ready to plan for 2017 Eventing season. Working out the events suitable for Storm. Getting very excited already! 

 

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