Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gaiting Up a Storm

Here's a picture of John and me, showing that just as the autumn leaves are turning colors, so is my hair. My husband is now calling me "Red" on a regular basis, which is cute for now but might get old very soon.

My friend Kathy came out to the barn today to show me some ground work techniques for gaining and keeping your horse's respect.

John has been just that little bit too pushy for awhile now; too mouthy, invading my space, with the occasional shove from that big suitcase head. I know I have not been consistent with my own behavior in response, so we worked at getting some better structure and clearer guidelines for Mr. I'm-So-Cute-I-Can-Get-Away-With-It.

I am working on a longer post which will show what Kathy did with John, which was very helpful and did have an immediate beneficial effect. And gave us plenty to work on.

But she also got some video of me riding John in his easy gait along with some cantering, which I am going to share. Be it ever so humbling, there's nothing like video to highlight the rider's every flaw. At one point early on I ask Kathy not to show my stomach jiggling; but not until she has threatened John that unless he behaves, this could be his sale video. She's kidding! I am insanely crazy about this horse...

It was a gorgeous fall day with a pretty cloud striped blue sky. You can see the foliage color in the woods in the background as we pass that direction; up in those low hills is the trail system I love so much. What do you think of Johnnie's gait? What should we work on this winter? For starters I'm thinking: What the hell am I doing with my hands? Painting his portrait??!


Breathe said...

His gait is just wonderful!

I know what you mean about boundaries. I've just posted about a whole set of them I'm re-establishing.

I'm not very experienced so don't have much in the way of a suggestion, other than what I always hear: Wet Saddle Blankets!

Anonymous said...

He is very beautiful!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

He looks like he is so much fun to ride. The scenery is amazing. All that open space.

Pony Girl said...

The sky is beautiful! I think John looks great! His gait looks like it could cover a lot of ground comfortably! Curious to see what techniques your friend used to help him learn some manners.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

I don't know a thing about gaited horses...so John's running walk looks wonderful to me. He also looks very smooth at the lope. No wonder you like getting him out on the trails so much. That horse covers some ground.:)

c2b said...

You are not the only one who has wobbling bits. He looks lovely as always. Western riding always looks so much more relaxed than english syle.

lytha said...

I see a relaxed horse and a rider having fun with it. That is the best!

I wanna ride him too!!!!!!!

I know his gait would make all my parts jiggle, but it would be so comfortable, I would try to ignore that and just float along.

Thanks for sharing!


Flying Lily said...

Breathe: thank you! I have written a post about the training techniques Kathy and I looked at yesterday; see if anything applies to your beastie!

Kate: You are so kind!

NM: Yes the riding area is quite open and that's a real plus.

Brown-Eyed C: He is smooth like a Cadillac when he's really on, and covers some ground. Unfortunately he feels he should be allowed to set his own pace!

C2b: I'm going to tie my hands to the saddle horn and to each other if need be and break this air-painting before winter is through.

Lytha: I wish you could come ride him. I think he would enjoy a nice geochaching excursion. ^-^

Funder said...

You live in a beautiful area (at least THAT day!)

John looks great to me. Nice self-carriage, and he's doing a wonderful job of gaiting while turning. That's always hard for Dixie - she wants to break into a trot or canter when I ask her to turn at speed.

I ride a little differently from you, but I don't know who is more correct. I either give her a completely loose rein, for real western-style riding, or I use my hands and arms to follow her head nod, for English-type riding. It looks like John gets slack in his reins until his head nods down, then he takes up contact. It doesn't look like he's slamming into the bit, so it's not painful for him, but I wonder if it's disconcerting to him? Would you get more head nod if he had a little more rein?

That's my only thought, really. He's a beautiful sweet horse, and yall look wonderful together. No Photoshop necessary!

allhorsestuff said...

LOOK AT HIM!! Awesome. I have ridden a gaited horse once a few weeks ago...I totally kept asking for more...becasue it felt like nothing was happening!
John is so handsome and you do well with him. He is a very nice mover...very flowy!
I would loose my stirrups in western too...a balance thing maybe with the fenders placed too far forward.(jsut my take)
If I ever get a Western saddle, it must allow me to be over my legs.
I love your haircolor!

Flying Lily said...

Funder: I think a lot about my inconsistent reins. I am so confused there. With all the English lessons I've had, there's a tendency to try to get a contact; but then I try to ride with a loop in the reins with him because it seems desirable...it is a real conundrum. I'm going to try take your advice and try a consistent loose feel, or maybe just consistently use just a rope halter, which works pretty well with him. I'll let you know what transpires here, and ask you some questions...

AllHorseStuff: Thanks!! (hair color - that was a new thing for me and I am having a blast being a redhead). Johnny is really smooth and strong; I hope I can keep him sound forever. Main worry is my riding is pretty heavy now and I wish I could get a lighter balance. The losing of stirrups maybe tells me something, maybe not. One more puzzle...

Funder said...

I don't think those dressage instructors who want you to take a light but consistent contact have ever ridden a gaited horse at anything other than a slow walk. It's almost impossible!

I try to keep contact when we're going slow, just to let her know I'm still up there and we should bend left around this bush then right up ahead there. But when we speed up and her head nod gets faster, I just let her have a loose rein. If he racks, you might be able to keep contact, but I just don't see how it's possible on a running walk.

I'm a big believer in self-carriage anyway. If she's not carrying her own head at speed, she's braced into a racky fake RW, and that's not what I want.

Flying Lily said...

Funder: You are so right and I am going to try out the looser rein, consistently. It does seem to work better for him and he will appreciate the absence of the inconsistent contact/no contact thing I've been doing.