Back to basics
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Thursday, October 23, 2008 08:28 AM
I have a new horse in training. He is tall and looks like a warmblood even though I do not know his breeding. He moves well when he is free. As soon as a rider on him he starts to waddle and it feels like he forgets how many legs he has. Unfortunately, he is already 9 years old. It makes me sad that he never was allowed to move the way he can. Because he does not know anything about correct way of going I assume people who started him didn't know much about dressage and were afraid to let him move. His transitions to trot are very dramatic, he jumps into big trot. If you catch his face right away he starts to play all kinds of tricks with his legs. If you sit quiet and let him organize himself he starts to trot with nice steadiness, forwardness and surprising flow in his movement.
Besides his problems with movement he is very sorrow. He waits to be treated badly, gets upset very quickly and complains a lot. In 14 days he has been at my place he started to turn around. The signs are small but I'm waiting for them and catch each and every one as a gift. He likes attention and being loved and praised. He is very sensitive. He only needs a light touch to go forward. He leg-yields in hand beautifully without any touch from the whip or hand, he yields so unconditionally to them. I'm very careful the way I touch him. I want to convince him that my hand will not strike him. At first he was like a stubborn kid. He just didn't trust and was encircled in his own sorrow emotions to notice anything positive. Now he likes to touch my face with his muzzle when I'm ready to put bridle on. His touch is very gentle and quiet. We stay like that for a moment and then he is quiet for bridling.
I longe him before riding to encourage correct movement and see how he listens to me. I want to improve his trot-canter transitions on the longe and I want him to keep the pace without too much correction on my part. Work in hand is leg-yields on a circle. He is so big and long, he is having hard time connecting his body together. Leg-yields on a circle help him to understand the shifting of his ribcage to the outside and stepping under himself with the inside hind. I have started the similar work in walk under saddle. He is catching up on the idea and started to accept my inside leg. First time I tried to use my inside leg on him in trot he pinned his ears, shook his head and cantered. Now we are coming to terms on that issue. I go for a hack to let him walk and trot on a trail without interfering with him. I just let him move the way he wants. His free walk is beautiful, flowing and pleasure to ride. This horse needs to find his balance and movement under the rider in the similar way a young horse does. The difficulty here is his history. Every time he reminded of his past he forgets how to move his legs. I must be very careful and let him recover on his own terms. Mostly letting him discover new ways of going instead of telling him how.
Happy riding...
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