Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A little bit of help from my friend

Ahh...what a wonderful day. I got so much done, gave the kiddo a longe lesson and rode my beautiful beastie.

Today's ride was much less exhausting than yesterday's. Today, I brought my obnoxious purple dressage whip out to play. Mr. Whippy hasn't been out for awhile so he was eager to please and impart his magical powers upon my great gray beast.

Our walk was MUCH more energetic than yesterday's walk. Every time Gabe tried to dribble to a stop I tapped him with Mr. Whippy and got an immediate response and a nice surge forward of excellent energy. I love Mr. Whippy's magical touch! Gabe picked it up pretty quickly that if he slowed without me asking him to slow, he got tapped. Not smacked, not spanked, just a light tap tap. He didn't overreact at all and new exactly how to respond.

Today I tried an over-exaggerated version of Heinrich Schusdziarra's "spiral seat" and got fabulous results with our turns and circles. It was definitely a positive change from our drunken circles and crooked lines. The spiral seat, boiled down, is really using my seat bones, hips, waist, thighs, feet and weight to turn him with my body rather than my hands. I felt a little goofy at first because I really exaggerated it and it's supposed to be very, very subtle and not even noticeable. But, it worked, and I will continue to use it, but gradually tone it down until he's turning from my seat bones and thighs rather than hands each and every time.

I would love to be able to ride him five days a week, at least, and he would definitely benefit from more regular riding. But I am so much at the mercy of the weather and the work around the farm is always piling up. If I didn't have to start work at 6 a.m., you betcha I'd be out there riding in the morning before work! Oh, wouldn't it be nice to have an all-weather arena with lighting! One of these days I'll at least have a horse trailer (which is far more likely than an arena at this point in my life) and I'll just be able to trailer out to an indoor during the nastier months.

I'd like to take some dressage and jumping lessons on him too, again, it requires a horse trailer. Slowly but surely, yes?

My most immediate goal with Gabe is to be able to at least hilltop him at a fox hunt this fall. I don't know if I'll get that far in the next couple of months, but I'm working towards it. Next summer I'd like us to enter our first combined training event and maybe try some dressage shows. He definitely has the athleticism and natural ability to do all of the above, my job is to figure out how to bring it out of him and keep him happy in his job. And I need to get in gear and really get my butt in shape too! Eventing is strenuous, and right now, I've let myself become so lax that I don't think I'd make it through an entire cross country course without feeling like collapsing into a trembling pile of goo.


  1. Mr. Whippy...that's funny.

    Weather here is frustrating too. I wish I could ride in the mornings too, before the T-storms arrive. Sounds like you have good ideas and good goals for Gabe.

  2. I too thought Mr Whippy was funny. I did not know there was an actual name for the spiral turns. We get on ours bareback and bridleless in the round pen sometimes and ask for turns and halts with leg and weight only. It is fun... and funny!

  3. It's nice to hear we all share these struggles! A covered arena with lights - what a dresm!

  4. Woohoo! Sometimes it's the littlest things that make all the difference. When Ace was still kinda dead to leg and completely non-responsive to a crop, this hunter rider discovered that a dressage whip too was her friend. The littlest tap is all it takes.

    Isn't it always so motivating when you have a successful ride?

  5. It sounds like you've definitely made some progress with Gabe. Good for you! We just got shoes on our boys last night and the riding area worked up last weekend. So conditioning 101, here we come!!
    Hopefully, I can find the time and energy to ride at least several times a week, but would love to do 5 times. We'll just have to do what we can, just like you.

  6. Oh this all sounds so lovely Jenn! I wish I could see you in action..I know he moves nicely he just has to!
    Yea..arena..I am with you agian in this department. I am working on a trailer as well...have a line on one and am trying to swing it..maybe this week. My PBO tilled up a 90 by 70 area..might be able to work there -on site- till it rains again. I loved your description of the "spiral seat"..may try that tomorrow.
    Be well , and go for the goals...what is "Hilltop" a the fox hunt?

  7. Kac, hilltopping a fox hunt means your riding behind the rest of the hunt at a slower pace and not taking the jumps. It's for green horses/riders to get out and get the experience but not be overfaced by the pace/jumps the rest of the hunt rides.