Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Walking is exhausting!

This silly horse is going to make me work for each and every stride. This is a whole new experience for me! I've always ridden horses who require quite a bit more whoa than go. The only horse I remember riding who didn't have much go (and required a tremendous amount of leg!) was a big Holsteiner named Wally. He was WORK and by the end of each ride I was completely exhausted.

Gabe wants me to ask for every stride. Left leg. Right leg. Left leg. Right leg, swinging and cueing each stride. My hips and seat bones very actively "walking" with each swing of his hind legs. As soon as I stop asking he kind of dribbles to a stop, which is frustrating for me. I've had instructors tell me I have a "hot seat," and tend to make hot horses hotter and slower horses much more active. I don't know why my "hot seat" isn't working for Gabe!

I need to teach him how to keep walking, at the pace I put him in, until I ask him to change. That is my next challenge. He's figured out the walk cue, now I need to keep him walking. Our turns are better, still kind of ugly and crooked. Our lines are NO where near straight, our circles resemble amoebas more than they do circles and his head is all over the place. He's unbalanced and he's not very confident in what I'm asking him to do. There is a "scary" part of our riding arena right next to the woods. It's deep, it's dark, you can't really see very far into it and there are squirrels and what not making ALL kinds of noise in there. He doesn't really like passing that part of the woods very much has really been hesitant about going near it, but, he's getting braver.

We're making progress, and that's all I ask.

I totally get why he was a complete failure on the track...he really doesn't want to have to expend any more energy than absolutely necessary and he'd rather follow another horse than lead. I can say though, although frustrating, it's a pleasant change of pace not to be on a horse than I'm half-halting every five strides.

He is also the kind of horse who is going to need to be ridden very regularly. He is not the kind that I can give a month off and expect to start right where we left off. Which I got very used to with Star. Chief and Calypso (Chief more than Calypso!) I can toss in a pasture for months and pop back on without having to do a few "remember this?" rides.

He is a challenge...but not in a bad way. I love figuring out how his brain works and trying to work with his brain and personality instead of forcing him to conform to the way I've always ridden and worked horses. It's good for me to have to think and ride outside my comfort zone.


  1. I could have written this post!! I have to do the same thing with Poco. He won't walk in a straight line. He makes me direct each and every step. With him, I think some of it is boredom. If we're on the road with Nita and Jaz, he's much better. In the arena, I have to constantly encourage forward motion. I seriously need to learn to longe properly.

  2. My legs are groaning in sympathy! I get a huge kick out of reading your posts about Gabe because they perfectly describe where Ace and I were just a few months ago.

    Like you, I always rode hotter horses with plenty of go. And I love a nice, forward, active walk - which Ace decidely didn't have. However, as he gets in better shape and moves forward more and more at trot and canter, his walk keeps getting better and better. I haven't focused on it at all, but by working lots of transitions, leg sensitizing exercises, and moving at higher gaits it's gotten better all on it's own.

    At first I tried to fix everything at once; forward, straight, bend. I was constantly nagging and Ace would just shut down. So I had to keep reminding myself ... "calm, forward, straight." By primarily focusing on forward and getting that down, Ace has gotten straighter. Now that we have a better straight, I'm able to ask for a better bend.

    All this to say, I totally feel your pain. But I also know how fun it is to go through the process and get to know your horse. And it's great to look back and see how far we've come and what we've learned.

    Good luck with the big gray boy!

  3. They all are so different. My mule was in high gear this weekend!
    Just trucked me up and down those hills.

  4. When I told a girl at the equestrian club that I didn't want to ride this slow horse she gave me a funny look... all the beginners want to ride him, but not me! I would rather have a horse with some more get up an go, even if he might have another problem...

  5. Now that is different...I too am used to the goers..still hyave that.and learning the "Half go" very well!
    I am so glad he fizzled on the track so you can learn his mind and let us in on it as you go! I just read about Mr. Whippy..now I see.
    Gray man is a bit sluggish.