Monday, March 4, 2013

Riding Diary: 47 - Cutting

Time: 2 hr

Horse: John Wayne

Ride: Finally I got another lesson with the cutting horse trainer, who for the purpose of this blog, I call Coach. I forgot how much I love riding with than man haha, he is so nice, encouraging and soft spoken - I truly appreciate his training style with both horses and humans :)

When I got to the arena, he asked me if I knew "John Wayne"... Uhm, I kind of stammered, "the cowboy?". He laughed at me, the horse I was going to ride is named John Wayne. Did you guys know I dislike human names for horses? This horse has two first human names as it's name! C'mon universe!

We began to warm-up, I fell into the rhythm of sitting an extended trot a little bit better than last time but I still really need to work on relaxing and not being so rigid. I felt like I was doing better at keeping my hand on J.W.'s neck and only using my reins when I really needed to. I also made my stirrups shorter than I usually do, this way my stirrups weren't feeling jostled around as a sat such a big trot.

Coach reminded me on how he wants me to sit during these warm ups - nice and relaxed, a bit of a curve in the back, legs loose, etc. He suggested that I even look "down", as in tuck my chin, and perhaps that will help get a more curve, relaxed back. He asked me to bump J.W. to get him to extend even more and really work and then we did a bit of dry work.

The dry work consisted mostly of stops and rollbacks, he asked me to really sit down when I asked for a "woah", and only draw up my hand if I really needed to. Coach said that with his cutting horses he wants everything done slow and fluidly, so if I ask for a turn my hand should come out to the side slowly and fluidly so that they aren't jarred into a turn - same with a woah, and a back-up, everything should be calm and relaxed so that the horse isn't knocked into doing something right away. I think that's a really good foundation for horses to be started and trained with - slow, calm, steady, makes for a way less brace-y horse. I'm dealing with so many bracing problems with Jingle that I could for sure feel how fluid and easy J.W. was to ride.

From the dry work we moved onto flag work. Coach had me ride J.W. up to the flag really slow and calculated, almost a step for every deep breathe I took. Then I stopped square and we began to work the flag. It felt wicked, J.W. was where I wanted him to be every.single.time, it was honestly amazing. The only thing I really had to "do" was keep him a little straighter, and not let him drift from the flag a few times, so I kept my left leg on him as he was chasing the flag on his right side. A couple times I had to bump to assist him through a turn, but honestly, I didn't do much.

Coach told me I had done a really amazing job. He said that he has trained J.W. from a baby and has shown him pretty limited, but will be amping up his showing this year. He said that I had ridden him really well and that we both were "hooked onto eachother". Finally he finished by saying he was really impressed with my riding, and that my position on the flag was really natural, and that we looked like I was about to show J.W. tomorrow. Pretty awesome praise. His only "criticism" was that he wished I could sit the warmup like a sit during flag-work haha. I think the flag work clicks in my mind as a different kind of riding, and so I can get down and into that cutting position, where as when I'm warming up - walking, trotting, etc, my mind drifts back into "pleasure riding", and my back goes right up and back, shoulders back, heels way down, etc. etc. He wants me to be way more fluid, natural and day I say it "slumped" haha ;)

As per usual, our flag work was done way faster than I had wanted it to be, and I cooled J.W. out. Then I watched him work a couple clients horses, and his stud. Then he let me cool down his stud - a dual rey roan that is one hunk of handsome, let me tell ya. Also, he is a real sweetie.

It was awesome. awesome. awesome.

For Next Time: Keep working on that relaxed, fluid, "different" cutting position during the warm up.


  1. That sounds like a lot of fun!
    I remember reading a book by Mary Twelve Ponies many years ago in which she described how to sit the trot: watch the shoulders of the horse and when the left shoulder goes forward, your left seat bone goes forward with it, same for the right side. Then get so you can do it by feel instead of looking at the shoulder. Made all the difference for me, I can sit the trot even on really rough horses.
    Cutting is on my bucket list; you are blessed to have a good trainer to work with.

    1. Thanks for the tip Shirley! I'll definitely try that out. I actually pride myself in sitting a jog, but i've never had to sit such a large extended trot, and that's where i'm getting all mixed up and feel unseated. I try to rock my hips even deeper and that works, but then I get jostled and it all goes out the window! haha

      I am, i'm trying to soak in every lesson 110%. I know your stud was a reiner, did you show him yourself? Or were you ever a reiner yourself?

  2. That is co cool, I am so missing taking lessons! But soon a clinic and then the show season starts right at beginning of April :)

    1. Who are you doing a clinic with?

      Ooooo, see I am the most jealous of you getting to show! hahaaha, all this flag work and I was thinking "man... I can't imagine what this would be like with live cattle", probably - 1 part scary as hell, 1 part really fricken cool haha.