Riding outside the grounds for the first time.
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Saturday, December 22, 2007 09:00 PM
Yesterday the weather was so nice. It was much more pleasant to ride outside then inside. I decided to take the Arab mare to the show grounds warm-up ring. The ring is a half a kilometer walk on a driveway to the barn and there is a busy road along it. They are separated by fence but still quite close to each other. The warm-up ring is big and elevated slightly.
On the driveway the mare was nervous and spooky but she kept walking or trotting forward and that what mattered. My seat was very quiet and I have talked to her in a calm voice. If she wanted to trot she could do it in the snow on the side. I only directed her I didn't really press an issue how fast to go as long as she didn't try to gallop. She didn't.
In the ring she went into big forward trot then picked up canter. As long as she followed a suggested line I didn't object. If I felt that she is speeding up and running I turned her on a smaller circle. That slowed her down by itself. As you can see I again directed her without asking her to slow down with my aids. She was too nervous and excited to listen anyway. But she followed my directional suggestions quite nicely and in 10 minutes she calmed down. I gave her a walk brake and then we had a nice working session where she gave me a steady forward trot and stretched into the bit occasionally. She was still distracted and wanted to look around. However, she started to listen and respond. I finished with canter to the right which is hard for her and I was able to stretch her neck down and she came nicely on the bit.
The walk back was emotional. She wanted to trot and was nervous because of the traffic nearby. This time I insisted on walking because she already had a good work out and was more obedient then at the beginning. I was quiet and kept rein soft and ready to yield as long as she walked. If she was about to trot I stopped my body, closed my hands and asked her to slow down until she obliged. Then I released. All that went with as minimum movement from me as possible - no throwing of my hips or upper body, quiet hands and very calm disposition. She threw me a one tantrum but it didn't impress me much and I kept on insisting my agenda. Last 50 meters were normal. She just walked calmly and obediently, no trot, no spooks or emotional outbursts. I'm sure next time she will be better.
From that short story I want to point out a few things:
  • The more emotional your horse is the less emotional you should be
  • Sort out and minimize your objectives until your horse gets used to the place and starts to listen better
  • Direction is more important then speed. Slowing down your horse with the reins creates unnecessary tension in already escalated situation. The only time you should try to really slow down your horse is when she is bolting. And interestingly enough in such situation reins do not usually work but turning does. Again control the direction of the movement.
  • Punishing your horse when she is scared and upset only makes things worse
  • Think of your horse like of a little child. You are a guardian and a teacher to that "child".
Happy riding...
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My blog is about teaching, riding and training. I share what is important to me in my work with horses and riders. The writing helps me to think things over and have a better understanding of training ideas and priciples.
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