Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Changing gears

I had been planning on entering the Grass Ridge CDE at the end of the month. It has only recently been announced that it has been cancelled due to a family emergency. While I am disappointed, I will be all right. I had made my jacket, apron and the hat is still in the works, but it is not all the end of my world. There are other events going on, I just had to decide which one we would be going to instead. No big deal, it happens.  I have a little more time to work on the hat and the driving show in November has a 'turnout' class so we may be doing that instead.

With Kat improving in his long line work and yet still being just a little 'off the mark' when put to the cart, I decided to have my husband work him and see if he found the same issues or if it is me? Sometimes it is nice to have someone else work your horse. It is nice to be able to watch, nicer still to see the horse respond to someone else as well or better and find out where the holes are in your work.  Sometimes it is all YOU, the rider/driver, sometimes it is the horse, but together, you have hit a roadblock and not sure where to go, how to proceed or what to do to get past it.  It happens to all of us at some time or another. If both of you (rider/driver & trainer) are on the same page as far as abilities and method of doing things, it is much easier for the trainer to fix things, then explain to you how to cue or signal the horse for what you want and you can move on from there. 

Sometimes what YOU think is happening- really isn't or at least maybe not to the magnatude you think it is. You may think itis a big deal or issue, while someone watching may not see things "falling apart" to the degree that you the rider perceives it happening.  When going to the left, it seems to me like Kat was 'falling into his turns', dropping his shoulder and giving too much or even diving into them at times... Then when corrected with the outside rein- he counterbends. Counterbends is one thing we got nailed for on one of our dressage tests. If I remembered anything, I will always remember that. Still it seems no matter how light I cue him to keep him straight or straighten him out- I end up with my pony counterbent.

What JR found was that while I thought I needed to work on softening and get the left side more supple, Kat is fine both right and left. What Kat needs now is support. When going to the left I needed to support him with the outside rein. He is driving up into the bridle, he is on the bit and moving forward, he just needs the contact and support with the outside rein a little more now.  He also noted that Kat is moving straight with a slight bend to the inside, but his mane is covering that and keeping me from seeing it.

He also found that Kat is about as soft as he can get and maybe a bit too much in fact. When you take a hold of the reins, he gives to the point of tucking his nose all the way to his chest and holding it there as long as you ask him to. This would be similar to Rolkur, which is NOT what I want to be doing with or rather to my pony. It is similar, but the difference lies in how it is applied.

While I may take a hold of the reins and ask, I do not hold it more than a few seconds before I release.  People doing Rolkur just take a hold and hang on for dear life. This is where you get the photos of horses with blue  tongues hanging out the side of their mouth. By hanging onto the horse like this and still pushing them for forward movement- these people are inadvertantly teaching their horse to run through the bit.

When you apply common sense and logic you get this- The Rolkur rider is telling the horse "It is okay to go forward no matter how hard they pull on the reins, no matter how harsh the bit they use. Pulling back on the reins or even giving the slightest of cues with one rein or the other is to be completely ignored by you, the horse."  Not exactly what any of us want and pretty much exlpains clearly WHY Anky's horses are known to be 'hot' and keep running away with her. What a concept?

In all actuallity it is good that Kat is soft, but too much of a good thing is not always good either. There is that fine line in there of good, but not too good, soft, but not too soft.  When I take a hold of the reins, there is some level of contact to be reached, some form of communication to be coming from me to the horse and some reaction will be achieved.  My husband has told me for some time that we are not as far along as we should be by now. Kat is soft, he is balanced, he is moving forward with ease and his stops are very good. He backs up nicely and goes forward with little encouragement, now I need to start training him. We have been playing long enough, getting the miles, trotting and walking plenty, now it is time to ask for more...


fernvalley01 said...

nice to have a second set of eyes on it ,interesting , and i Am looking forward to how you and Kat get through this next phase, the super soft , to the point of too much is what I am seeing with Andee, I have hads to me very careful that she does not tuck and evade the pressure with her head right to her chest,I think one trick I use ,widening my hands a bit has helped

Cut-N-Jump said...

FV- one of the things about driving, some of the things that work on their backs, may not apply. That's where it can get tricky and make you question yourself about how much you really know, as well as pushing you to new levels in learning.

The reins go through the turrets on the harness saddle & on the part of the breastcollar that goes over his neck. Widening my hands has little to no effect, just like how high or low they are. Moving my hands up or down, the reins may lay alongside his hip, on top of his butt or not touch it at all. Each height has a use, but in driving, widening is almost irrelevant. Don't think I haven't tried it though....