You can have your Bronze and still feel like a crummy rider

A week or so ago, I finally got up the nerve to watch some video of me riding Fling – both in a clinic and our tests at the show. And was frankly, horrified. One of my main challenges as a rider is correlating what my horse LOOKS like, based on how it FEELS. I often have a huge disconnect in this department – but more so with Fling than with either Faxx or Faeryn. For example, I also watched video of Faeryn from the clinic and was pleased with how she looks – very together, and a bit more collected than I had given either of us credit for.

Fling, on the other hand, did not look like that very collected, baroque looking horse Ihave in snippets of video from more than a year ago. And she’s also getting away with murder in small ways. Number one, she’s being very unsubmissive, especially warming up in the walk work – dinking around, bracing against the bit, etc. Although Fling has a stellar work ethic – she IS an alpha mare. And I think that’s a lot of what’s going on here. That, and I’ve gotten so ‘used’ to her small ‘dinking around’ that I don’t notice it like I should anymore. Just like parents who have children seem to no longer notice those ear-piercing shrieks they can make, that make childless people (like me) stick their fingers in their ears!  It’s time to start riding Fling with a much keener awareness of everything she does – and being mindful of my own position too – I have developed a bad habit of leaning _slightly_ behind the vertical. Fling is also blowing off my half halts. So, time for a little ‘boss mare’ action on my part to ‘rein’ Fling in – literally. 

I knew I could ride her in the double bridle and solve her ‘rooting’ and bargy behavior but preferred not to. And then I remembered the baucher bit that I was using on Faxx. That puts more pressure on the poll and less on the mouth and thought that might be a good tool for my current issues with Fling.

 I rode Fling in the Baucher bit two times and she absolutely HATED it – BECAUSE it gave me more leverage and she couldn’t ‘dink’ with me. The goal is self-carriage – I want her to LISTEN to my halt halts so I can let GO and she will carry HERSELF.

The second time I rode her in the Baucher, she finally felt like the very round and baroque horse she did a year ago. ALSO, using something that George Williams mentioned – the outside rein is reponsible for longitudinal suppleness. That is one ofher big issues. So I have been warming her up a bit differently than I used to – really half halting with the outside rein and getting her low and round and deep – loose inside rein – more inside leg. Getting her to stretch more over her back. I do it at walk, and also at trot. Her nose is not to her chin – but I am definitely asking her to go in a ‘deeper’ frame so she stretches all along her topline – from poll to tail. But just in warm up. So I put her back in her regular snaffle Sunday and she was much improved even in the snaffle – and I could still ask with the outside rein and get that nice stretch without her bracing or stiffening against me. And she was listening to my half halts much better. I also have started doing ‘carrot stretches” with her  – although in her case, they’re ‘candy cane’ stretches!  Before tacking up, I am having her stretch her head down and get her nose between her legs to reach for the treat – to, again, stretch her topline.
I rode Faxx in the round pen last night. So boring – and I have pulled my hamstring so I can barely post the trot. I start physical therapy Thursday. I don’t even know how I did it, but driving to work kills me. I am ok when I get up, but almost crippled by the time I get to work, after an hour of driving in stop and go traffic.  I was going to try and ride him in the big field this weekend but it was windy as all get out. Don’t want our first outing to be on a day like that.

I need to count the days until daylight savings time begins – then I can ride two horses after work during the week! And I really need to get started on figuring out how to fix my arena.


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