Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Training Leah to Carry Herself at the Lope



Here it is March 15, 2017, and I'm only on Day 31 of my 100 Day Challenge.  If  you remember, I started the year out gangbusters--riding in the snow, training Beautiful Girl, & attending clinics.  But despite that great start, I'm at about the same number of days as I was in 2016.



That's why it's always wise to make hay while the shines--because, there will be plenty of days when it won't.

Day 30 with Leah was interesting.  I rode her and she was very racy--wanting to break out into a trot all the time.  Then, I asked her for the lope, and she would have NONE of it.  Instead, she pinned her ears back and started to offer a buck.  

I wondered to myself, "Hmmmm....what's the deal?  Is she scared?  In pain?"

So, I finished my ride and grabbed the lunge line.  Sure enough, when I asked her to lope from the ground, she'd just start running around like Speedy Gonzales...


'Cept, she wouldn't watch where she was putting feet, and her back feet would slip out from under her.

Race, race, race, slip, race, race, race, race, slip, and so on.

She was definitely anxious, and it was making me nervous watching her.  Then, just when I was about to quit asking her for it, she slowed down and carried herself in a gentle, controlled lope.  She did one lap, and I stopped her and PRAISED her.  I asked again, she repeated the performance for a lap, I stopped her and praised her again.  We did that both directions until she was rather sweaty (something I had tried to avoid), so we went in and finished the day with T-Touch massage.

Day 31 (Today)

Motto: Never let a good flood go to waste!


Leah and I started out our day walking through the puddles lakes surrounding the house.  I walked her forward, and then I backed her through them starting from dry ground.  Awesome practice!!

Next, I took Leah to the arena where, by the way, the footing is very good with the deep sand we put in last year.  I asked her to lope on the 25' line I purchased yesterday--a heavy-duty, yacht rope--to replace my thinner 25' lunge line.  (The heavy yacht rope was hard to get used to, but may be better.)

Leah did GREAT!  She remembered her lesson and gave me the most controlled little lope, right from the get-go!  She went 'round and 'round and 'round.  There were a couple times she slipped a little bit, but whenever she came to that point in the circle, she'd pay extra close attention to the ground and her feet, and she'd self-correct!

My, do you know how happy that made me to see my girl carry herself like that?!?!? It gives me hope!

After the lunge work, I rode her bareback for about 20 minutes.  We worked on walk-trot transitions and she wasn't nearly as racy at the trot today.  I have found that I LOVE riding her bareback.  It is making me a much better rider--developing my core balance.  I have a ways to go to be really good at it, but I realized as I was doing it--I had a HUGE smile on my face.  I'd probably had it from the moment I hopped on her back.  It was utter joy the whole time.  Maybe it's the connection?  Maybe the excitement of mastering a new skill?  Maybe a lot of things rolled into one.

Things are looking up for Leah and me!


16 comments:

  1. This all sounds very positive. When Carmen struggled with cantering under saddle she needed a saddle adjustment.

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    1. Interesting. Leah has shown the same raciness with no saddle at all. The girl I purchased her from wanted her to be a barrel horse, and I sometimes wonder if she didn't encourage her to run full out. When I bought her as a 2 year old, she'd just start running circles on the line, like a bat out of hell, and it was all I could do to get her stopped. It actually worried me for the day I'd get her under saddle--that she wouldn't stop for me. Fast forward to today, once she understood all I wanted was a nice, controlled, gentle lope, she seemed relieved and happy to give it to me. :)

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  2. I often wonder what is going on in a horse's head when it is first worked in a while. Lostine used to have complete panic attacks when I'd approach her with a halter. Bareback seems so convenient. You don't have to hassle with tack when you are short on time. I'd need a mini to mount bareback, though. I hope Leah keeps up the good work.

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    1. Yeah,I hope she does, too. So far, so good. She let me pull along and open a gate. That's an improvement. She seems to take pride in herself when she knows she's done a job right. She's really hard on herself when it goes wrong. Bottom line, though, she's trying hard to please.

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  3. I am itching to ride these days, it's been too long, but the roads to the barn, down the driveway & out the lane are like one big skating rink. I'm NOT itching to break another bone.

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    1. You're probably not far behind us. Spring is around the corner!

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  4. I sometimes wonder what kind of training they had before they got to us too. Dusty used to run in circles A LOT and also run backwards. I think the girl that had been training her really messed her up. It took a long time and a lot of patience to sort of retrain her and let her know what was wanted and was acceptable. I think Leah is doing really well and congratulations on bareback. That's a big accomplishment. Once she knows what you want and gets praised for it she will be proud of herself. Good luck.

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    1. If only we had crystal balls! I think it's a little of everything. I forgot to add, she had laminitis and then winter hit, so there is an element of rehab or reconditioning, too. I have a long way to go with the bateback, but it is a fun challenge. ;)

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  5. p.s. I'm not sure but I think you would like this blog I follow:
    https://heartlinehorse.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/the-art-of-imperfection/

    It's written by Mark Rashid's wife who also co-trains with him.

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    1. I will absolutely follow it. Thanks for the suggestion!

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  6. Excellent progress! Lucy bucks when asked to canter if her hocks hurt but she doesn't normally race. It does sound like Leigh is either unbalanced still or unclear due to previous training - or both. You're on the right track, though.

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    1. I agree. I think it's a little of everything: end of winter and being out of condition, rehab from her laminitis last summer, and basic training carrying herself & maintaining a controlled speed. She's made a lot of progress this week.

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  7. Don't you love it when it all comes together! I think you and Leah are really becoming a team.

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    1. One thing I've learned through this, it's a daily journey and since we're working with living beings, rather than machines, every day presents a creative challenge to connect and be a team. I love that about it, especially on days we have breakthroughs.

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  8. I bet you will still get your challenge days in, and enjoy them better weather. It does sound like Leah's reaction is a bit of everything you described, and yet look how quickly she came together with you. Years ago we found the best ropes (in our opinion) Brute Ropes. They sound similar, made from nautical rope, but ours are light, very responsive, and last forever. They even custom make preferred length & hardware, more then lunge lines. Here is the link if interested: https://donttouchmyrope.com/ Glad you are putting all that water to good use!

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    1. I'm an easy sell, I ordered one! My old one actually has a nice feel. It's a thinner, stiffer rope. An old cowboy made me one when I admired his. But it's old, and it has been left out in the elements a lot. The new one has the nautical rope feel, but a bit heavy and awkard in the hand, although Leah did awesome with that rope. I hope this new one combines the best of both. Sure looks nice!! Thanks for the suggestion. And one observation, the Cowboy put a small brass snap on my old one and I always thought that was a mistake, but then, my new one came with a smaller suze, too, and I see the one I just ordered is also small. Are they wanting something lighter so it doesn't bang around on their chin?

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