Wednesday, August 6, 2008

All My Riding Sins, Confessed



We traveled today for our gaited horse lesson and fun training experience at a Rocky Mountain Horse facility 2 hours away. My friend K, her lovely daughter, and her horse who is Johnnie's Partner in Crime in the pasture accompanied me & John. We passed through all the stages of clinic grief: (1) Loss of the dream "My horse and I will be praised to the skies!" (2) Successive failures to accomplish the tasks assigned, excuses offered; (3) Humble struggle to do something, anything, that will show your horse to his advantage; (4) Liberal servings of humble pie, seconds available.



The first surprise of the day was putting Johnnie and his Partner in Crime into this beautiful plastic? covered arena, where it was at least 15 degrees cooler than the outside. This gorgeous facility had a washrack, 3 stalls, a huge neat and tidy tackroom and a bathroom, inside. PLUS a huge riding arena with delightful footing. It was horse heaven in a way.

Then Johnnie got brought out to have a demo about the sections of a horse's back and what different lengths of "working spine" mean:





We got to see some real Rockies, who looked like sportscars compared to our tankers:


And at last I will confess all my riding and horsemanship sins as I learned of them today:

1. My horse is too fat. Fat gaited horses get stifle and hock issues. Diet for Johnnie asap!

2. John does not bend any where near adequately, from the neck. He needs a huge amount of work on reaching his neck down, and from side to side. He is stiff as a board. I always thought this was his conformation: I called him my Oreboat. But no, he can do it, I just need to insist.

3. I use way too much hand, not nearly enough core, seat, leg.

4. I nag, I don't ask intelligently.

5. I don't know where his feet are at any given time. "Move the feet, move the mind" but if you don't know...


So we have a ton of homework to do! And it rather rocked our world, to hear someone knowledgeable tell us so clearly where we fall short. But we are pretty determined to do the best for our little gaited partners in Crime so we are going to work for one month then go back for another lesson. And maybe try to go for a trail ride in Governor Knowles State Forest while we are down there. It's a good plan! And I saw this gorgeous rainbow on the way home, quite the good omen don't you think!

10 comments:

Grey Horse Matters said...

Looks like a nice place and you seem to have gotten some constructive criticism. Practice when you get home and see if it helps. Johnnie is a beautiful horse and looks like such a gentleman, I'm sure he will improve the way you want him to before his next clinic. Although, he may not agree with the diet part. Hope you get a nice trail ride while you are there and you're right that is a beautiful omen for a bright future.

cdncowgirl said...

Those covered arenas are awesome! If its the same "brand" as most of the ones I've heard of its called a 'Coverall' and not plastic really but some kind of super fabric.
My dream arena is one of those :)

photogchic said...

Sounds like lots of good stuff to work on. I think Johnnie looks like the perfect weight (he is so dang cute!) and looks like he just needs a little conditioning. The other horses pictured look under weight to me. Could be just the photos. Good luck on that homework.

Flying Lily said...

GreyHorse; Thank you - we being our practicing today with neck bendings.

Canadian: Yes it is a Coverall, she used that term. She said it sheds snow in the winter, lets in every bit of natural light there is, and keeps cool in the summer. It was heavenly in there.

Photogchic: Thank you! This trainer is definitely a believer in thin horses; she thinks they stay sound better that way. But I agree with you!

20 meter circle of life said...

the truth shall set you free!! dont you feel a bit better now? What a great place and it sounds like Johnny is in for a rude awakening, poor boy.

Flying Lily said...

Yes, my masochistic rider self does thrill to being criticized, truly...and I am off to the barn to get to work on my 'gummed-up' board-stiff pony. :)

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Sounds like you came away with some really good information. Have fun putting it to use.

I'm with Photochic-her horses look thin to me. Photos can be deceiving, but not usually that much. Johnnie may be a little out of shape, but I certainly don't think that he is obese. Use your best judgement there. A thin horse is usually not a very happy horse and a "few" extra pounds isn't going to cripple Big John.

Flying Lily said...

Brown-Eyed One; Thank you for the reassuring message. I agree. John and I did a bunch of bending ground work today and then went out on trail; he was not gummed up but smooth gaiting and happy cantering; I think he is going to be OK! my big straight palomino dude...

jesterjigger said...

Wow, sounds like you got your money's worth at the clinic! It sucks to find out that there are things wrong, but at least these sound fixable, and now you have lots of homework to work on. They sound like things that once you start paying attention to them you'll be able to make great progress, which is always nice, nothing like improving by leaps and bounds to give you a nice ego boost after realizing all you need to fix, at least that's how I felt once I started taking lessons.

Flying Lily said...

JesterJ: Yes indeedy it is great to have things to focus on. John is my 'easy' horse and I have always focused my nervous dressage energy on Montana, with Johnny as the relief. It is not fair to John to be so casual with him as all horses need focus and intentional work. This was a wake-up call to get some stuff going with Johnnie, the bending, riding from the core, softening him...good to hear.