Joy the Wonder Pony

Rode Joy last night. I had low expectations.  Mainly because I currently don’t have any goals for her…  other than I’d like to canter around in some semblance of balance and with the the correct bend.  

We’re headed into winter where riding will probably cease from December to March.  Next spring I’ll freak about how we’re no where near ready for even Training Level… STILL

I found if I shorten my reins to the point where I feel like there’s 2 inches left, then Joy feels more connected in the bridle. As if too much slack leaves too much room to squiggle and question. 

We’ll see how this works long term.  Doesn’t appear to be hurting anything, yet. I still can’t get a true connection from hind legs to bit yet.  I feel like i’m getting really close at times,  and other times we’re no where near it.  I think I’ll need professional help to achieve it.  Hopefully I won’t have ruined her too badly by then. 

I’ve been working on developing left hind strength.  A big Thank You to Alli Farkas for the suggestion.  It seems to be working!! I have some research on exercise that I’ll post later. 

Another thing I found that helped was if I do trot work on the box and kick her hind end over when going to the left that she is better able to pick up the canter relatively straight.  I have to do shoulders going to the right.  The haunches continually shift way left when going left.  The shoulders pop left when going right. If I don’t kick her butt over going left,  then she gets in her own way and bucks. 

Every issue I have right now is straightness related. Some rides I never get even slightly straight.  Some rides I do.  When she’s straight and pushing from behind I get a wonderfully soft,  balanced canter in either direction.  It feels awesome. It feels like a big horse canter.  It feels very uphill and adjustable. When she’s not straight … It’s an utter wreck.

We’re usually not straight.  😂 

I have no idea how the canter actually looks when she’s balanced.  I can’t seem to pull it off when I video myself. I’m just going to keep pretending we look like Charlotte and Valegro cantering around being magnificant. 😉 

This little pony is a try-er though.  She might get frustrated,  but she doesn’t quit on you.  She keeps trying.  She doesn’t blow up,  she doesn’t refuse, she just expresses her confusion and if you break it back down then she’ll try again.

I love that about her!

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5 thoughts on “Joy the Wonder Pony

  1. You can have the reins as short as you like as long as you aren’t “pulling” on them. A steady fixed hand shows the horse where the bit is, and gives them the consistency they’re looking for. But caution here–she can’t duck behind the vertical and cheat the bit. Many times we obey that rule to “follow” with our hands but in the process we lose the contact or provide an inconsistent contact. With a steady hand the horse always knows exactly where the bit is. Let your horse bump the bit if she wants to, it’s OK–she will figure out where she’s supposed to be. If she starts to hang on you for support, you will have to figure out which side she wants to lean on and momentarily half halt and quickly release that rein for a couple of seconds to let her know she has to carry her own weight, then resume your previous contact. Also, as far as straightness goes, forward is a big component of straightness. See if you can get consistent forward before you worry too much about straightness. Forget about the canter until you have forward straightness at a marching walk and a forward trot. For the issues you are describing, simple baby steps are the way to go! (I should know–it’s taken me almost three years to get there with my mare, but at least I can be sure she is correct because we went step by little step to get there). And yes, there’s nothing like having consistent eyes on the ground (i.e. a trainer) to help you with your training.

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    • You’re right about needing to go back to the consistent forward. That was partly why I wanted the canter, because after canter she’s much more forward thinking and quicker off the leg aid. I’ll see if I can get that same forward feeling in trot first (consistently) without thinking about the canter for a while. I’m struggling with either too much forward (loss of half-halt and balance) or zero forward.

      Thank you so much for the reply! This is awesome stuff!!

      I do *really* need a trainer. I think I’ve got a lead on a local, smaller trainer, that might be able to give me a hand at home for a while. At least until I get Joy hauling safely.

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      • Some (or a lot?) of horses do have more forward after they’ve cantered, mine included. However, if you have to fight to get the canter, it means the horse, or the rider, or both, are not strong enough/balanced enough to pick up a proper canter from a trot. If you want your horse “warmed up” you might try playing with/chasing her around a bit (not very much, you want to leave something in the tank for the actual ride) before you ride. When I acquired my mare, she absolutely would not canter for me. It took a long process of adjusting my position, refining the aids so they were very precise and she knew exactly what I wanted, and getting her off her forehand and strong enough behind to do the work. As you have probably noticed, the canter gait itself is not the main issue–it’s the transition to the canter that needs to work properly. And you only get that through strength and balance. I wish pushing the horse around a corner into the canter worked, but it’s just a band-aid over the problem. It’s kind of in the same category as teaching a horse to change leads by throwing your weight to one side and pulling on the opposite rein. You might get there, but it isn’t very pretty…or correct. A couple of the things we look for in dressage, right?

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