Plotting Horse

Frisky Business (but alas, the Prince of Darkness was a no-show)
May 22, 2009, 10:25
Filed under: Riding

Yesterday I rode one of my favourites at the riding school, Ozzie:



He’s 7 years old, as far I can remember, and he’s so cute! He’s very cuddly – after our ride when I had dismounted, he put his muzzle to my cheek and blew hot air into my ear! No violent wiping of drool on my shirt like the other horses do: no, he is just a gentleman (I always thought that his namesake was too, though he might have done the drool thing…). He likes to get down to work: struts his stuff, but at the same time, when he gets in the zone, he likes to be by himself: curls behind the bit. This is pretty frustrating, especially because when he’s there it seems like he’s oblivious to the leg aids as well. So, it’s difficult to ‘push him into the bridle.’

We rode half the class inside and half in the outdoors jumping ring, like around and between the jumps. Don’t know why. The dressage ring is right beside it and was unused.

Inside we did some nice leg yielding work, if I may say so myself. My instructor said “That’s how it’s supposed to feel!” and I couldn’t stop smiling. I really do prefer these younger horses, because they are so much more supple. Also, they try to do what you ask them to do, without just doing the exercise automatically because they’ve been doing it for a million years. I feel like with a more inexperienced horse, he will actually tell you when you are doing it right, rather than ‘sort of right’. About six months ago I rode a wonderful old horse, named Sammy. He does it all; and so, when we were riding squares, turning on the forehand in the corners, and I needed to relax for one corner and just sort of wanted to turn normally, he totally took over and did a perfect turn on the forehand all by himself. I just sat there!

Mechanical Horse

Mechanical Horse

Now, I was very impressed, but it also left me feeling pretty useless and like I was likely quite insufficient in my technique. It was just obvious that Sammy would never have told me what I was doing wrong, as long as he knew what
he was supposed to be doing.

Outside we cantered one way and then the other. I was a bit nervous because Ozzie, while not spooky at all, really loves to give a good buck-of-joy when he’s having fun. He’s having fun when he’s outside! I rode him a few weeks ago on the first trailride of the season and I knew there was a reason all the other riders had left him for me, last on the list. I have seen him buck 3 people off – he just does one really big one and that’s it, like a bronco. Pia adviced me to keep his head up and push him forward if I should feel him getting frisky, so I spent the whole lovely trailride scutinizing and correcting my horse’s head-height. He gave me 2 small bucks and I managed to stay on, but if he had done a row, I would have been laying in the stream beside the trail! At the end he also tried to take off, racing up on the side of the leader horse at a gallop like we were shot out of a canon! All was good…

But yesterday he was a champ – or just tired – and he didn’t do anything out of line. I kept him cantering forwards and not getting too deep with his head and neck (sure sign that he’s about to buck, and also just kind of scary to feel the whole front of the  horse drop away in front of you. You know he can’t see, and the balance is totally f****d!).

It was really really fun and afterward we all loved on the horses like they were our own.

Some things I have to work on: sitting trot! It can’t get any worse, seriously! And you can’t do a good canter depart without it! I tend to lock my hips, which I think is the biggest problem, but there are plenty to get started on!

Not engaging my core – getting better, but my instinct is still to lean forward and slump when things aren’t going my way.

Hands and arms. I’ve been working on this one for just a little while, a few months, and I’m now at the point where I try to focus on feeling the contact in my elbows and my hands are really just a more complicated connection in the line between the bit and those elbows. Class starts out okay, walk is good, but then trot gets difficult and canter too; for some reason I seem to think, at those higher speeds, that I have more control if I lose most of the bend in my arms… Explain it to me! To be fair, I’ve never used my elbows for anything before;)

FYI: This weekend in Malmö, at Ribersborg (the beach, 5 minute walk from where I live) there is the Malmö Horse Show. All kinds of stuff, including an HSBC FEI World Cup Eventing Qualifier! I don’t know much about eventing, but it’s going to be so exciting! I will definitely take pics and try to get the names straight, and report back to you!

Holy exclamations Batman!


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