Forward through Fear

Yesterday I loaded up 4 of the 5 horses on the farm into the trailer to go to Warrenton for lessons with Inga. I was only taking two of the lessons, Suzy & Lauren were taking the others.

Considering that three of those horses were four (Harry & Eros) and under (Neuf) they were all very well behaved. On the return trip Neuf was a bit sticky loading up, then Eros copied him, so that is something that needs to be smoothed out, since I still insist “horses who don’t load, don’t lead”, this shows some holes that have been allowed to develop in the horse’s manners and leading.
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Neuf accepting his “good boy” kiss from Duke the day before our lesson.

Neuf was not a heathen! He settled into a stall reasonably well. Lauren rode first, since Eros got the last slot, which works out to be the biggest spot, and we were a few minutes late, so she tacked up as soon as she unloaded, then once she was on and started, Suzy and I took Neuf and Harry for a walk around the indoor. Harry has not been to an indoor since he came off the track so we wanted to make sure he had an opportunity to see it before Suzy climbed on. We tucked Harry and Neuf into the stalls that Inga allowed us to use, and Bali got to stand on the trailer until I tacked up.

The grown up horse is so nice! No handwalking around the arena, not so much as a glance at the jumps behind the kick wall, babies are so fun because they are learning so much they progress so fast, but there is also the unknown factor with the young horse. Bali is now the known. The lesson was working on getting her really round with her shoulders up. Inga was dressed to ride, so she got on for a few minutes, and could feel how Bali resists, and how I react. I got back on and it is always easier to maintain than to get the feel the first time, so I worked on maintaining that roundness, uphill, and forward. I still feel like Goldilocks trying to find that “just right” half halt, I’m either too hot (pulling) or too cold (throwing away), but I think I might get one or two good half halts each ride.

Then, there was a bit of half-step work. Bali does pretty well with that these days. Then I went and took advantage of the hot water and washed Bali’s tail while Suzy had her lesson on Harry. I was tacking Neuf up in the stall while Bali stayed in the wash rack when Lauren came to say that I could come in, Harry was so good that they did a half lesson on him, which is perfect for the young horses when just starting on new concepts.

Neuf walked into the arena and was a tiny bit fidgety, so Lauren held him for me while I got on, then she went ahead and hand walked us around the ring. He felt good, and Inga came in and we started and going past the door, he suddenly got that powder-keg feeling, not forward, balling up and head twirling, and I was ready to jump off and lunge him, but instead, Inga clipped on a lunge line and convinced me to stay on, she promised that she never lets go, so I stayed on, and worked on asking for forward. Neuf is a bit giant, and has giant movements, including potential for giant badness, which could result in a giant ejection seat for me, so I’m a leetle bit fearful when he gets that powder keg feeling. Being a broken human sucks for all, particularly my husband!

What we worked on was forward, no, really forward. After about 5 minutes, I started to relax a bit more, and become more confident in asking for forward. After 15 minutes, I was back to the realization that Neuf’s a good boy and not intent upon tossing a rider, and I can insist without him having a tantrum. There were one or two times where I felt his hind end really engage. I also worked on asking for that forward, medium trot, immediately when coming out of a canter. In thinking forward while asking for the downward transition, it took longer to get to trot, so I have to find the line between slamming on the brakes, throwing them onto the forehand for a downward transition and not braking enough.

Once I relaxed a bit with Inga on the other end of the lunge line, it was a good way to take out one variable from the equation.

Overall, an excellent day out for young horses.

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About Mel

Random musings in a riding journal
This entry was posted in Bali, Lesson Notes, Neuf. Bookmark the permalink.

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