Following Rules

I haven’t had consistent lessons recently and when I was given the opportunity to ride with Lauren’s trainer (from here on known as LT) I was hesitant but also excited. Turns out she is a wealth of knowledge and gave me a lot of good pointers. Instruction helps… who knew???

First and foremost if I want to make progress I need to stop side stepping when I meet resistance. Green horses need boundaries. This is even more true when dealing with young SMART green horses. My new plan of action is to introduce a concept gradually with more of a suggestion, once the suggestion has been picked up move to enforcing the concept. This is not with brute force but rather taking the right actions to encourage her to choose the right answer. The biggest step for this is to make the wrong answer hard.img_2118

A specific example would be if when I go to ask for a halt she throws her head and hollows her back I need to immediately continue forward (example above from Elisa Wallace Clinic 8/16). Stopping is much easier than continuing and she has already started to figure out this concept. Our downward transitions have been much more pleasant since this method change and my body is thankful Рnot having my shoulders ripped out of the socket in a fight is always a plus.img_2108

Some of the ideas that are consistent for all exercises are being more consistent with my hands and engaging her hind end. What I mean by this is that I need to not be tricked into taking my leg off and constantly dropping contact or on the opposite end fighting her constantly. If I choose a level of contact and ride her into it from the back forward I will have an easier time with all transitions and other questions.

All of this means that I have started to up the ante. Our rides are no longer 50/50 left and right at each gait with random haphazard plans. When I get on I have a set of exercises to work on and try to work through them methodically with each exercise building on the other. This involves endless serpentines, loops, and spirals as well as more lateral work.

The above exercises are my main play book. Do you guys have similar plans for schooling greenies? Do all of your rides have a plan or is it more of a lets see where this takes us approach and plan as you go?

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  1. I’ve just started riding my greener horse again after a good chunk of time off. Thankfully he’s typically pretty agreeable, but in the last week we’ve had a few discussions. While he is out of shape and it’s hard to carry himself, rooting the reins from my hands is not acceptable. So for the time being he is wearing a different bit. Problem one solved (at least temporarily). He had also got really bad at blowing through his left shoulder. I ask nicely the first few times for him to turn the corner, if he doesn’t do it nicely with his shoulder following the turn, he gets a good boot in the side. Also, listening in general is hard and he’s thrown a couple temper tantrums. If he listens and cooperates, he gets to be done sooner. If he doesn’t he works longer. Since we’re just getting back to work, it’s pretty basic things like change direction, half halt when asked, half, reverse, etc. We’re not up to doing a ton of trotting yet, but when we are doing more, we’ll add some more serpentines.

  2. Mine’s not green, but I usually have a vague plan when I get in the saddle, but most of the time it changes depending on the day. I usually change the exercise depending on what we’re having trouble with.

  3. When I had a horse I always rode with a loosely structured plan, because sometimes you’d still need to throw out the plan in order to work on whatever popped up.

    1. This is where I’m usually at. During warm up, depending on what feels strong/weak that day, I’ll formulate a plan of something to work on and exercises to get us there. Today on the lunge line I saw that Murray was a) not listening, especially to down transitions and b) throwing his haunches out and getting on the forehand for down transitions. So I took some time to really work on riding forward into the down transitions. If he’d pitched a fit about it I would have changed exercises to something else, but kept trying to engage his hind end a little.

      I hate riding without a plan, because then my rides end up being about 10 minutes long and after wtc in each direction I just feel like “well now what?”

  4. Ugh being disciplined as a rider is so hard sometimes haha. I’m right there with ya! While I normally have an idea of exercises figures or patterns that I’d like to practice, it’s usually bc they are means to helping me get the “feel” I’m looking for in the horse. Right now the best way I can describe that “feel” is in seeking to feel both hind legs riding up into both reins. That’s been a surprisingly useful descriptor for me!

  5. Love those exercises! My trainer has also recently booted my butt into reality and made it painfully obvious that I need to stop ignoring the gaps in my greenie’s training as well. Convincing him to accept my hand in the canter and not shake his head/gape his mouth has been a recent challenge. Previously, I would just let him go on a butter soft rein and not insist that he learn to sit on his butt in the canter, but the time has come. Boundaries aren’t easy!

  6. Sometimes I have specific exercises or things to work on, and sometimes not. I find though that I’m always much more productive if I go in with a plan.