Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Riding Diary: 33

Time: 1 hr

Ride: After our nice trail ride on Saturday, I crossed my fingers and hoped Jingle's brain would have slowed down enough for a decent ride. It seems that our little foray into the wilderness did the trick. He seemed quite calm, even during our warm up he wasn't trying to run around like a crazy horse. The entire ride I attempted to keep the word "RELEASE" at the very front of my mind. So, slightly calmer horse + more frequent, better releases = better ride. (duh, Louisa) We did some of our normal routine of jogging, and that is something that Jingle has really started to get down pat. I can now just sit and tell him to "jog" and he lightly moves off. He's also really starting to check back, I just have to say "jog" and lightly check, and he'll respond slower. Very rarely does he break down into a walk anymore. Goodboy. He's also transitioning a lot better from walk to jog, and jog to walk, with vocal cues, so that is also a good thing.

Then my trainer told me to lope... our right lead... aka.. the lead of hell and death for Jingle and I. He started off strong, but then, got frusterated and annoyed and began his silliness. It's frusterating for me because he'll lope, but on the wrong lead, and so i'm constantly correcting him, and I can almost feel him looking at me saying, "I'm LOPING, can't you see that?! What do you WANT?". So, I try more leg pressure, leg pressure going into an arc, more notice before the lope, less notice before the lope, counter-bending into the lope - nope, wrong lead. Then, I attempted to jog him in smaller and smaller circles and ask him to lope, hoping this would better set him up for his right lead. It didn't, it just caused him to rush around like a looney toon in a small circle for a couple minutes. Cue crop. Ugh. crops. I get crop-panic the second one comes into my hand. However, my trainer commented that I was using the crop at the perfect moments, and eventually Jingle struggled through his right lead. Whatever, what can ya do, it's coming.

We worked on the left lead and it was beaaaau-t-i-fu-lllllllll. We left our 20 m circle (screw you 20 m circle, get outta here!) and loped the arena. My trainer just had me working on circles where I saw fit. So if I felt Jingle was taking advantage of the rail, and was going to try to gallop off, I'd make him lope a small circle. If he was softening up, he could lope the rail. I made him lope between things. He was doing really well. My trainer commented that he is moving off my leg much better when we went to move around people on the rail, she also told me I was using my legs effectively - yay. She also commented a couple times that I was choosing appropriate times and distances for when and where I should circle, vs. not - yipee, judgement calls!

A couple times Jingle tried to "leak" out of our circles, and my trainer told me that if he even starts to look away from the circle, in the other direction, I need to correct him quickly, not just hold pressure. We both know, and my horse definitely knows, that the second he starts to leak away, that means he's about to a) run me into objects in the middle of the arena b) be a total pain in my bum c) scare others as he careens towards them at Mach speed. So, with the big word of the day "RELEASE" in my mind, as he started to rush and leak out of a circle I would give him one sharp tug and then relase. If he started it again, he would get another sharp pull, and then a release. I only needed to do this a few times before he got it in his head not to try to run the other direction. Then, we moved to the other end of the arena and I tried to lope circles again, and a couple times he tried to run off again and I was firm, and he listened to me, and quit being such a noodlehead-runaway! Good boy Jingle!

Finally, we worked on our sidepassing, when I apply my leg Jingle just kind of runs sideways, so my trainer told me to lightly apply my calf, and then release, to get a more calm step to the side from him. I also need to focus on keeping my heels down, and using my calf, instead of bumping with my heels/spurs. He did well, he likes slow stuff - that's his jam.

Anyways, a good ride was had by both of us - I felt like we were doing what we do best - being in sync!

For Next Time: Workin' on that ride lead, keeping the magic "RELEASE" word in my mind, first and foremost.

"Hello - people that read this blog, is there anyone out there? PLEASE don't believe her, send help & lots of cookies. Preferably all the cookies you can muster. I am ABUSED. She rides me INSIDE. She makes me do crazy things like lope "leads", what the hell is a lead?! I beseech you!"
"Did I mention I like cookies?"

.... not the best photo, but you can see how disgustingly sweaty my poor boy gets now. I think a clip is coming down the chute for us pretty soon, but I have never clipped a horse before, and Jingle has never been clipped, and all-in-all, it's just something i'm avoiding. However, 1.5 cool down/waiting for him to be dry enough to get his blanket on is ridiculous, & he's inside at night!

Things to think, and care about more, once finals are done --> IN LESS THAN A WEEK.
Excuse me while I go curl up in a corner and cry.


  1. Maybe the ride outside was good for more than just Jingle ;) Glad he is getting better, but he looks like my Mare Bailey when I had her inside for a winter, she sweat from her eyeballs I think. But a cooler worked wonders on her and just enough time for me to have coffee and warm up before she was dry and I went home.

    1. You know what? I think you might be right ;) Something about being outside on a horse relaxes me, something I need right now.

      A cooler barely works for him... I have a decent weatherbeeta one, and it just seems to make the sweat sit there. Barely any "drying" whatsoever. Sigh... I think clipping is the best route, but i'm a little nervous to try it out. I'll probably just start with chest/neck, those are the two areas that get super sweaty. If it continues to get worse, we might have to try out a trace clip.... oh man.

    2. Clipping is really not that hard, make sure hes clean (preferably bathed, but if not as clean as you can get him) and the blades are sharp and just hold them on him for a bit till he gets used to the vibration and then clip away in straight lines against the hair. If it looks weird, dont worry in a few weeks it will grow and look good again, and feel so soft :) I would love to clip my girl, but she is outside all the time and I kinda wanna keep her out if I can, so blankets with necks and try to ride less hard on really cold days I guess is my game plan...... so far.

  2. Yay! Congrats! This sounds like a great ride. You are clearly making a lot of progress on a lot of things. Trail rides sound like a great way to help Jingle decompress and get his mind prepared for more learning.

    On the leads issue: often a horse will start with a slight preference for one lead over the other, then develop loads of anxiety about going their "bad" direction because they learn that every time they go that way a lot of bad things happen. A horse can so easily be scared or hurt by the things people do to "help" them get that lead.

    In my experience failure to pick up one lead is often a strength issue combined with a mental block. I have had several horses who only got over ingrained lead issues when I finally just let them lope on the wrong lead. If you keep them in a nice, large circle and just let them stay on the wrong lead, most of the time they will go a few laps (or in some cases, a lot of laps) and eventually realize no scary pokes or yanks or circles so small they can hardly manage them are coming. Then they relax a little. When they relax, their brain turns on. Pretty soon they get to a turn and think, "Oh. Gee. This would be more comfortable if I was on the other lead." All horses are capable of perfect unassisted flying lead changes. They'll switch leads on their own. Once they stay on the correct lead for a lap or so, you let them stop and rest. Pretty soon they realize the "bad" lead is no scarier than the other one.

    Anyway, that's just something that's worked for me. :) Good luck with finals!

  3. Clipping is your friend. Jingle doesn't care if the lines are a little crooked.... at least, he shouldn't if he gets his full cookie quota!

    1. haha, I'll try to remember that as I accidently take chunks out of my horse with the clippers.... Perhaps I'll go avante garde and just clip geometric patterns in him or something.

  4. We all have issues at some point or other with our horses, I remember a mare I had that had big trouble with her right lead; after trying all the things you mentioned, what finally got it to click for her was rollbacks; we'd trot down the arena fence and roll back to the right and come out at a lope. At first she'd only hold the right lead for a stride or two, but once she got confidant she stayed on the lead. She was a very left sided horse (her mother was too)and this exercise really helped her toy put it all together.
    There is a blog you might really enjoy called A Year With Horses; the writer, Kate, has excellent insight and is a better rider than I will ever be. She describes things in perfect detail and many times while riding the memory of one of her posts has helped me out.