I had a very eye opening lesson this morning. I debated not blogging about it because, honestly? Everyone has opinions. But, at the same time, this is my horse, my journey, I can blog if I want to, right?
I approached my trainer about my current mindset. And let’s be real. I’m struggling. I need direction. Getting back into riding this spring after everything we went through from mid fall through March, taking it easy WAS the right choice. But, we’re both relatively healthy now. And now I NEED more to keep me motivated. Light and low-key is good for winter or when I feel like crap (which will be back, I’m sure, I have chronic health issues), but I actually am doing OK. So I basically said that.
Since we overhauled me position (still a work in progress), my trainer said that if Nay was her horse, she’d overhaul his body awareness to improve his flat work with an ultimately goal of teaching him his changes.
None of that, in and of itself is controversial. Or, at least I don’t think. But, my trainer is a believer of using draw reins and using them properly (hence my thoughts on not blogging).
See, I’m not against draw reins OR any other tool. But I want to know why I’m using it, how I’m using it, and I want to know that I’m using the tool properly. We used them briefly a year or so ago prior to me getting sick and I ended up not feeling comfortable using them on my own so I stopped. This time, there is no winter circuit so I should actually get some lessons IN the draw reins in between practice rides to reinforce the lessons rather than me just learning something once or twice and getting lost.
Anyway, we spent a good 1/3 to 1/2 of the lesson at the walk just work on bending and changing direction and changing the bend back and forth while being aware of the bend and avoiding the counter bend. Plus, maintaining a marching walk. We weren’t focused on the hind end today, just the front end, the forward, and the bend. It was a good way to see that tugging my inside hand back really DOES get him unstuck. I’ve been told this constantly, but I only seemed to get it today. Plus, as always, inside hand to belly button to around turns which is finally becoming second nature.
Next, we moved the trot and applied the same thing with less turns and change of direction. But, the same idea. Interestingly enough, we’re far better bent to the left than the right. I like the left, but Nay’s been better to the right recently? Whatever. We started loose with a tighter braided rein just emphasizing FORWARD (key of the day). Then shortened the draw rein slightly. The goal here was to maintain the bend (easy to the left, harder to the right, but we got that) AND maintain forward. So, it was shorten and leg forward so that we emphasized that shortening the draw rein didn’t mean to slow. Praise (I had to find a word other than good boy since that = halt… er. “Yes” seemed to work well). Then do it again. We started VERY long so we never getting him short, but rather working with him to feel the contact and such. He definitely was not upset by it and less confused by the end.
Finally, we tried the same at the canter. Just on a half circle each direction. We started to the right, his good canter direction where we picked it up and promptly lost it… but after recollecting were successful. Interestingly enough, the right was HARD, I had to work hard. Granted, he was very much on his front end and not using his hind end which we’ll be addressing next lesson next week, it was a lot of work. To the left where we’ve been 50/50 with picking up the lead? Easiest canter transition I’ve had in forever. All the bending we did early on, he just stepped right into it and I never felt like I was going to lose the canter. Usually I struggle to keep the left but not today.
So my homework is to practice primarily at the walk and trot like today. Then toss in a couple half circles at the canter. We’ll regroup next week and go from there, bringing the hind end into our training.