I thought I’d post an update on the lease horse, and write down the issues I’m having.
I’ve ridden Ellie about 8 times now, over a two week span. She’s still extremely out of shape, but her suppleness has improved tremendously. She’s no longer barging around on her left shoulder. She still falls in, but not as badly and it’s getting easier to move her shoulders back over.
I’m having issues with her curling under. If I push her up into the bit, she gets frazzled.
She doesn’t seek contact. She won’t go out of her way to avoid all contact, but she doesn’t go looking for it. I have video below. Watch her head. I don’t ask her to put her head anywhere when I’m riding. The only thing I ask of her is to look in the direction of travel. If I give her the reins, her head stays exactly where she put it.
I’m focusing on teaching seeking the bit at the walk right now. Just when I think she’s starting to understand, that’s when she starts rooting (shoving her nose down and out hard enough to jerk me). I don’t want the rooting at all, but I’m scared if I kick her forward for it that it’ll send the message that she can’t reach out and down for the bit. I’m indecisive on what to do about it. I did kick her forward for rooting last time I rode, but then I decided just to avoid the situation entirely and we started working on leg yielding instead.
I’m concerned about the head and neck because it’s the symptom of the tight back. If I can figure out how to get her to relax her back and swing then the head and neck can relax and follow the bit. But I think it’s all tied together too. I can’t affect one without the other, and both have to be relaxed before I can get real relaxation. And I can’t get anywhere with her until she relaxes and starts swinging through.
So I’ve tried a few things to trick her into releasing the tension in her back. First I tried working her just slightly under what I believe is her natural trot speed. She was mentally more relaxed, but I felt like she was phoning it in body wise. Her hind end was out behind us somewhere doing it’s own thing.
Then I tried asking for a slightly more forward trot then she’s comfortable with. The idea being that she has to bring her hind end up under. It’ll build up her strength in being able to carry herself with a level balance (weight evenly distributed between front and hind legs). The stronger she gets the more she’ll be able to relax the back and swing through. The more forward she is the harder it is for her to duck behind the contact. Therefore it should allow her to carry herself in a more correct frame and build the correct muscles.
So I made a video of the slower/faster trot work. I know the quality of the video is bad, but look at the overall body of the horse and how she moves. She gets closer to actually tracking up when she’s pushed a little more forward. I don’t like that she seems a bit more tense with the more forward.
The more forward felt cool though. She felt very uphill on the straight sides. She still felt like I could do a ten meter circle at any point in time, or turn anywhere I wanted to turn. I never felt out of control, or like she was too unbalanced to be able to quickly change direction, speed, etc.
My riding is atrocious, and I’m horrifyingly embarrassed by it. I’ll have to work on that.
Video is 2:49 long. At 31 seconds you can see her curl right up. I’m just up there thinking, “Crap. What do I do now?”
Kind of looks the same to me. But her right front in the “more forward” side is in a later phase than the right front in the slower. So she actually stepped more under in the more forward for it to be where it’s at now in a later phase then in the slower side. Maybe. I think.
Funny note: I dreamt I was riding Ellie last night. I was trying to prove that I really could sit the trot well (because I always blame my inability to sit the trot on Ava’s big bouncy trot)… and then I ended up flopping all over the place while sitting Ellie’s trot. I haven’t tried sitting Ellie’s trot in real life because her back isn’t strong enough yet. But now I’m have this compulsion to try to sit her trot. haha