Thursday, January 24, 2013

Riding Diary: 40

Time: 1 hr

Ride: I rode Friday and had a wicked ride on ponyboy, and then I got deathly sick (I have now had norovirus (read: severe stomach flu) two times in like three weeks... lady luck is nowhere to be found when it comes to my health lately). So, by Monday I was feeling a bit better, but still a little out of it.

Ponyboy, out of nowhere, has figured out his warmup trot. It's wicked. Nice, slow, easy, still has forward impulsion, but isn't attempting to murder me. Life is good. We should just trot forever now. Yeah... my trainer had other ideas. I trotted the barrel pattern a couple times - have to remember to really assist him through the turn, as he tends to want to jump out of it at the last minute. Then we loped our right lead - weeeeeeee watch how fast weeeee can lopeeeee - haha, my trainer said a couple weeks ago that now that my seat is so much better than when I first started riding for her, I don't notice how fast i'm going when we're loping. Well folks, let me tell ya, I noticed on monday. Although I feel safe, and I don't feel out of control, and nor does he, I still feel like we're attempting to match mach speed. No thanks. Lots of checking, alternating circles, to the rail, and back again, later and he kinda sorta slowed down haha. But! He is starting to consistently pick up his right lead now - what whaaat.

From there, we loped and worked on some transitions - my trainer commented that at this stage when Jingle breaks down from a lope, for whatever reason, I shouldn't try to just rush him back into a lope because that allows him to just pick up whatever lead he wants. Especially when we're loping his right lead. For now, and because we need to work on transitions anyway, when he breaks down I should break him down to a jog, focus on some cadence, and then ask again when we're both working together.

Then my trainer said something that totally surprised me, "we're going to try draw reins". I know what draw reins are, and I trust my trainer, but I know a lot of people absolutely hate draw reins, and are vehemetly against them. Readers - what are your thoughts on draw reins, do you use them in your own programs, do you agree with them, disagree, don't care? So how do I feel about the draw rein situation?

Well.. I feel as if it's a lot of reins in my hands honestly, haha, and that took awhile to get used too. From there it took awhile to get used to how much contact I should have, where to put my hands, etc. etc. After him and I both got the feel at the walk, we jogged, and I really liked how he was jogging in the draw reins. He was much more even-tempo'd then he's been lately (i've commented in previous posts that we've found our trot, but lost our jog somewhere in the muddle), and I could tell he was really using his hindend because he wasn't breaking down on me like he usually does, and I could just feel that impulsion. So, in that respect, I think the draw reins worked as a tool to remind him to work from his hindend. At the lope, you could tell he was confused about the effect of the draw reins, and so he basically stopped and was like "No Mahm, I am not a pulley system, I refuse to move", so that took a bit of backing up, and moving forward before he'd lope again. We only loped a bit, did a bit more jogging and quit.

So the verdict? I'm okay with this tool for now, I definitely wouldn't use draw reins every ride because I don't want Jingle to learn a false headset and false collection, however, they did seem to aid in reminding him to actually use his hindquarters, and become lighter on the forehand, all good things in our training regime!

For Next Time: Slooooow dowwwwwwn bullet train.


  1. I'm not against draw reins. I think there's a time and a place for them, but uses should be few and far between. It's easy to ruin a horse when over-using them.

  2. Seriously I've probably used about every gadget at one time or another. And although I really haven't used any of those things in many years, I think I still own at least one of everything. Draw reins, German martingale (I actually have two of those...what the heck), running martingale, side reins, neck stretcher...blah blah blah. So, as a tack addict, I'll say that my only problems with draw reins are that it's easy to over use them (and sometimes it's hard to tell if you're over doing it without someone on the ground), and they can be tricky to adjust quickly and accurately. I've seen them way abused (a stablemate used to pass them from between her horse's legs and up over the slobber bar of her curb...). But I've also seen them used to good effect! My first Arab mare had a very upside down topline and could crack you in the nose with her head if you weren't careful. I think draw reins helped her get the right idea. So ramble ramble ramble, no condemnation here, I think they can be useful in the right situation. :)

  3. Well, since you asked. :) This is how I feel about the gadget question: unless I someday get to the point where I know I am not making ANY mistakes, there is a good chance that the problems my horse is having are caused by faults in my riding, in which case employing a gadget is only going to cause the horse to become less attuned to what I'm telling him to do with my body. For me personally, that is not a desirable outcome.

    Draw reins often cause a superficial patch-over of a number of problems. They seem magical because the change is often instantaneous and highly visible. But it comes at the cost of a subtler kind of communication. For some people, that is fine. Plenty of riders want a horse that is trained to follow particular cues and just go through its paces no matter what the rider is doing. And that is a perfectly valid way of enjoying horses. For these people, what you lose by employing something like draw reins is something they don't want in their horse anyway.

    However, if someone wants a horse that listens to their body and is truly attuned and responsive to everything the rider does, these kinds of devices are counter-productive because they override the cues the rider is giving that are causing the horse to move one way, and force the horse into moving a different way. This makes it harder for the rider to learn to adapt and to understand where the horse is coming from. Also (and perhaps more importantly) it inhibits the horse's ability to learn from the rider through a gradual build up a positive reinforcement. This, in the long term, makes a horse less inclined to think its way through future training problems, which can lead to needing more gadgets in the future.

    So, I'm not trying to say one way is better than another, just that they are different approaches. The long terms goals of the horse/rider combo are probably the most important consideration.

    1. As always your comments have me thinking :)

      Sometimes I feel as if I am in a training limbo with Jingle, half of us is in a good place, half of us isn't, and all these theories and ideologies are just running rampant around us. My trainer (WP/Jumping) is obviously well versed, and well schooled in the world of gadgets, and your first type of rider (because those riders often go hand in hand in the above disciplines) of course - she herself is not, and for the most part, is wonderful. However, I wonder if she is too quick to let us use gadgets? I wonder a lot of things about my ponybeast.

      Sidenote - I've been recently trying to work through one of Clinton Anderson's groundwork books - i've been surprised at what my horse knows on the ground, and humbled by what he doesn't. I keep meaning to start my "groundwork" posts but haven't gotten around too it. Your comments, I'm sure, will be appreciated.

      This comment back to you was more me talking "out-loud" than really responding to what you said, haha, but i'm going to leave it as is, and reserve my draw rein judgement for the next time we decide to use them.