Thursday, May 31, 2012

Riding Diary: 17

Horse: Cat (Justa Lil Cat)
(That Sly Cat x Justa Lil Tomboy)

Bit: I didn't get a great look at the bit, but it was some sort of ported roller with shanks.

Time: 1 Hr

Ride: So, after much phone-wrestling I made it out to the cutting horse trainer! I suppose I'll refer to him as "The Cutter" from now on in, as my other riding instructor has become known, blog-wise, as "My Trainer". I headed out to The Cutter's place Tuesday afternoon, hoping to avoid an imminent rainstorm, and trying to calm down the butterflies bouncing around in my tummy. I always get a little nervous heading out to places like this - it's funny, because your paying someone to train you, but at the same time.. you don't want to make a fool of yourself.

His place feels home-y, which I like. I worked at a big barn and it never, ever felt like home. My barn now, and his place, has a more comfortable aura around it. We chatted a bit about my experience, and I signed a waiver (which I really liked.. I've rarely ever had to sign a waiver anywhere - home-y but professional at the same time), and then away we went!

I rode a horse named Cat, I listed her pedigree above... so, I've now ridden a horse whose grandsires are Highbrow Cat and Freckles Playboy!! That is... We got into the arena and talked about the differences between riding a cutting horse and other horses. A big thing My Trainer nagged me on when I first started was that I over-emphasized my stops, she wanted them very quiet, legs stay straight, etc. The Cutter wants my emphasis back, legs come out infront of you, rock your pelvis in, drop your hands, then back them, and then stand. He really made mention of getting a horse to stop, and wait for you. He told me that in his "misspent youth" he would make colts wait for him to smoke an entire cigarette before they could go back to work. I've never smoked, but I understood that analogy pretty well. For me, my stop and wait's are more like 20 seconds, his are about 4-6 minutes... an excruiting long time when you are used to 20 seconds.

We worked at the trot, and my horse wasn't being super responsive, and he thought that was because I didn't have spurs on. I've never ridden with spurs, but he said my legs were calm enough that if I rode in short, dull spurs it might just help cue her a little better. I'm a little nervous about that, I know that most performance horses are spur trained, but I can't help worry that one day I'll be taken by surprise and accidently dig into a horses side with a spur. We shall see how that goes. Somewhere along the line I've noticed people who really shouldn't be, or don't need to have, spurs on, spurring the shit out of their horses, and that old saying "you have to earn your spurs" creeps into my head, and makes my nervous about the fact that I have not, earned aformentioned training aid.

Then we worked at the lope, he told me that when a horse stops, he wants it to stop as it's lead leg is coming down to the ground, which means that it's powering from the hind end. If it's power is coming through the front, the stop wont be as big, or powerful, and will also lurch the rider around. He told me that everytime I felt the lead foot hit the ground I should think to myself "woah". So around and around I went thinking, "woah, woah, woah, woah" and when he told me to stop I had to just say it outloud - and tada! Great stop! I liked that trick.

We moved onto loping small circles and he asked me to focus on loping my tracks... harder than it seems.

Then we worked on a basic cutting drill - as if I was working a flag I would go in a line, trot, stop, back, rollback, and again. I was struggling a bit, I would over neck-rein and she would go flying out, and leak the rollback. Okay... so you are a cutting horse, you can really freakin' move. He kept reminding me to slow my brain down and focus on keeping her straight. (Oh look... I've created another noodle horse friend!) Every once and awhile he would ask me to back, and then wait... and we waited.. and waited... and waited.. and then - back to the trot. We quit after that and he said I did well, which made my big 'ol face smile and he said that after a couple more dry sessions I can move onto the flag.

I like his style of teaching, slow, methodological, calm... In a lot of ways, his riding style was similiar to the old barn boss, (a penner), I took a few lessons with. However, he was better at explaining and backing up things to me, so I could grasp the concepts a little better. Also, I never felt stupid - anyone that rides knows that you have those days when you feel like an idiot, but it always hurts 10 x more when your trainer makes you feel like a complete idiot who doesn't know anything. It was interesting to me how The Cutter and My Trainer's styles diffierentiated, but how some things they both mentioned to me. For example, I have a very odd tendancy of slightly tilting my head without noticing... gotta keep that head upright and straight!

For Next Time: ... so much! #1 is just remember everything I learnt! Nice, loud woah's, keep my head straight, focus on calm, collected rollbacks.


  1. Very cool! I got to play around on a professionally trained reiner once and the first time she stopped she threw me so far forward it wasn't even funny. A well trained western horse definitely knows their whoa!

  2. Sure sounds like fun! Makes me miss going to lessons even more now. Oh well soon as brandings slow down, I am back in the cutting pen :)