I guess I should never say anything until the PPE is done but I don’t anticipate any issues. His hopeful new owner is one of those practical sorts who said she doesn’t want to xray because he is obviously sound and she would rather not drive herself crazy by looking for little things. I always think it is nice to have two months of video provided too where you see a horse starting work and continuing on in the work. It gives you a good glimpse into how their bodies are handling everything.
Halfway had one day where he was a bit of an ass but it was the ride after that big trail ride so it could have been left over from that or he was just in a mood. I told him in no uncertain terms that he needed to suck it up and there would be no more bucking in that canter transition. I realize it is hard for him but he was taking it a bit too far.
It is all fairly normal for a horse to be hitting the wall at this point in the training. He sat in the field for over a year and is now at month two in the training. I have demanded a big more of his body, asked him to step under, organized the trot, asked for a balanced canter transition and overall just changed his way of going.
I gave him one ride where I said enough is enough and we discussed behavior. He did one buck and I pulled him up, backed him up and gave him a smack with the crop. Now normally I would just ride them forward and ignore but that was already how I had been dealing with it and because he was taking advantage it was my job to work out a new agreement. Halfway being a very smart horse has not yet repeated another buck…ah so he did know it was wrong 🙂
I had a really good ride on him last night.
I think this is his best flatwork to date. We are only two months in so I think it is an amazing difference. He is stretching into the bridle and is very softly going there. He is bending off my leg in both directions and the difference to the left is night and day from where he started. I do have to do a bit more half halts, push over and half halt again on that side to push him from the left leg into that outside rein but he totally understands what I am asking for. The canter..omg the difference in the canter! It no longer feels like he is just running around like a motorcycle. He is soft and relaxed and I can move him off the leg in the canter. The transition up to the canter while still not perfect (again you wouldn’t expect it to be at this point) is no longer running half the length of the ring to get into the canter.
Halfway prefers a certain kind of ride. My friend who rides him sometimes is still learning how to ride a horse like him. I think the important thing about a horse like Halfway is that they are more sensitive. Not what I would call hot but you have always be thinking about riding them forward into the contact and not balling them. I don’t have the best hands nor do I always ride perfect..far from it but I have learned how to shape the horse in a way that makes them feel relaxed. A lot of it is having a contact but not a “holding” contact. The hand often acts like a sponge to gently feel the mouth. It also takes a lot of feel in the body to use your legs to move them laterally and also to ride them forward but at the same time control the tempo using your back and your core to half halt and help them balance. Too much and you run and too little and you can’t push the hind legs to the bit. Horses that are sensitive find relaxation when you bend their bodies and when you ride them over their back. However, it can’t be too harsh of aids.
The biggest thing that I saw her doing in the canter transition was shortening the reins and causing him to ball up. The transition is already hard for him but if you make him feel trapped he has nowhere to go. You have to give the energy a place to go so that he doesn’t buck. If he rushes forward than so what. Let him go for a few strides and then half halt and balance it up.
She is a hunter rider and her background is just to sit there perfectly still and do nothing. She looks way better than I do on a horse but as she told me yesterday she had no clue that riding was so hard 🙂 To be an effective rider on young horses there is more than just sitting there and looking pretty. I was showing her how to move the elbow while pushing the inside leg to soften the horse. How to give the inside rein at the canter to really allow the horse to jump under with the hind legs. You can never be afraid to soften the hand! It always takes more leg to ride a green horse across the back than you could ever imagine. It is an art that I am still working on learning and hope to always be working on. It is fun to try to be better at it.
She was amazed how a few simple changes made such a big difference in the way that Halfway was going. I had her riding him more forward so that she could have something in her hand to feel. If you are riding so slow than you are just riding the front end. These guys have to go forward first above everything else and you often have to have a more forward trot in order to get them to soften.
I really love teaching people how to feel this sort of stuff. It is pretty exciting to me even if it all looks boring. She couldn’t get over how HARD it was and how tired she got. Dressage is hard which is why I think too many people give up on it. However, the difference it makes in a horse is absolutely amazing.