Tuesday, April 19, 2016

When to Release--Not Too Soon, Not Too Late

 "Timing is everything."
Buck Brannaman

Sounds so simple, doesn't it?  But it's not.

When are you holding too long?  When are you letting go too soon?  These are questions I'm trying to find through feel with Leah. 

On Sunday I had a GREAT ride with her.  We'd had a lesson the day before and worked on her loping (riderless), and that seemed to improve her walk and trot on Sunday when we were alone. 

Today, however, not so good.

When I went to get her, she was a tad grumpy.  Also, she had been grazing on the green grass and her stools are soft.  Reminds me of the Scrooge quote, "There's more of gravy than grave to you."  It's possible she just wasn't feeling her best today. 

She did awesome on the groundwork--very tuned in and soft.  She stood very well for me to mount. (We'd had a couple issues with that last month.)  She bent in softly at both sides.

When we started to walk out, however, she didn't want to go straight.  She started tuning into her herd mates and I had to redirect her feet a lot. She also didn't want to maintain the speed I asked and she kept breaking into a trot.  To top it off, she also rooted at the bit--really stretching her neck down to take my reins.

Eventually, we got some nice walking and so we trotted, but her speed was excessively fast.  I pulled back on the reins--softly first, than harder, and I eventually got her to slow down.  But then she'd speed back up.  We worked for a long time--getting varying results.

At the end, I started working with her on moving away from leg pressure, and she did some amazing side-passing.  So, we ended on a good note.  She was sweating from ear to tail, though, and it took me a while to cool her off with rest and a cold bath. 

I've been reflecting about it the last few hours and I'm worried my releases aren't right.   I'm going to talk to Regina about it at my next lesson.  It could be, too, this all had to do with her not feeling well, assuming she doesn't feel well, and that question can only be answered with a little more time.

Either way, it won't hurt me to really practice and learn more about the release.  I know that green horses need every bit of encouragement--but letting go too soon only reinforces a bad habit.  It's a fine, fine line.


10 comments:

  1. It is a really fine line, but I think you are wise to consider how she feels. I tend to think that early spring and late fall are particularly hard for young/green mares - the hormone issues. The sweating is telling, but she is learning that sometimes you have to work even if you don't feel great. I wish I had pushed my mare a little harder when she was younger; she can be quite a wuss in late fall during her last estrus.

    Bionic Cowgirl

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    1. Thank you for the insight. I've never ridden a mare before, so this is new to me. She was sweating a lot and she has been at the salt block more, too. Maybe all this will even out with a little more time and consistent rides now that the weather is nice.

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  2. Ultimately, you just need to release when the horse does what you ask. Start out by releasing on a try. As the horse gets more experienced and has demonstrated that she knows the routine, you can expect more and release only after she as given more. One time my horse trainer was riding Gabbrielle and trying to get her to move her front end over and pivot on the hind legs. He tapped her on the shoulder repeatedly while she ran all over the place crashing into railings and whatnot, but he just kept tapping. I was like, "Stop! You're going to get hurt," but he was a rodeo rider, so this didn't even phase him. As soon as she moved her front end over, he stopped tapping. From that moment forward, she understood what the cue meant and didn't need a whole lot of repetition. I don't think I could have done that myself.

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    1. I agree completely. It's hard to know when that "try" is there sometimes, but I hope I get the feel for it.

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  3. I can't tell you how much she reminds me of my first rides with Dusty when she was green. She used to root around with the bit or throw her head up and her speed was inconsistent. What I did to stop the rooting down was to find a nice comfortable spot for us both where her head should be and fixed my hand there but also used a following rein. If she wanted to pull down she really pulled against her own mouth. She soon stopped that once she figured out she was working against herself. It all takes time so hang in there.

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    1. Leah was definitely pulling against her own mouth yesterday. I had given her a nice bit of rein to keep her head at a comfortable level, but she wanted to take more. It didn't make sense to me since she was doing so well before yesterday. I'm thinking..possibly...the more we work, the more we'll have days like yesterday until she comes to terms with daily work. I love that you're seeing similarities to Dusty because that is very encouraging that we'll get past this.

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  4. I have found with Carmen that establishing a partnership and leadership is much easier when I'm on the ground. That makes sense because she can tune into my body language. When we're riding it's more difficult because it's all based on how we use our aids. Also, she can see her buddies and not you. It will come with time. Be patient with yourself.

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    1. I hadn't thought of it that way, but it makes a lot of sense...she did so well on the ground and bending in to see me...fell apart in the riding. She and I aren't connecting yet with the aids. That is going to be my focus--really fine-tuning my riding aids. I brought my books and CDs to the office today--when I have time, I'm going to immerse myself on this topic.

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  5. Persistence is the biggest tool in the toolbox.
    You're making progress - sometimes progress isn't in a straight line, but you'll get where your going if you just keep at it.
    You have a great attitude Linda, that's half the battle.

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  6. Sometimes it seems like one step forward and 2 steps back- but it's all a dance.
    I remember Buck saying "reward the try". My timing need improvement too.

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Please feel welcome to join our discussion--tell us about your own thoughts and experiences.