Saturday, April 27, 2024

Problems and Solutions

Lessons, lessons. 

I requested that my trainer, Regina, fit us in as often as possible through April and May to help us prepare for a summer / fall of trail riding. 

The issues we had last year, which caused me to reach out for help from Regina, were these:

1. Tumbleweed got anxious between gait changes and didn’t want to take up, or continue, the lope / canter. 

2. He got agitated going down steep hills on his first trail ride, and wanted to run home. 

3. Once, after a sweaty workout, and as we were standing watching another horse, he buckled his legs and wanted to drop for a roll. I jumped off and made him get back up. 

4. My daughter and grandson, and really the whole family,  had a life emergency, and it required more of my time and mental / emotional energy that took away from my focus on Tumbleweed. 

5. He was also rooting at the bit a lot. 

I reached out for help from the very best, and she answered my call.  

I wasn’t exactly sure where all our training was going last year, but I trusted the process, and this year it is all coming together.  I can see why she laid the foundation for longitudinal and lateral suppleness and balance. It is giving him confidence. 

This year, Regina said we should start from scratch because he is a new horse with a new body, and we want a clean slate. Tweed, however, remembered where we’d left off, and he is much more confident in his 2024 body. We’ve had 3 lessons, and a few independent work sessions, and he’s taking off. 

The training this year has concentrated on getting him to transition from trot to lope to trot, keep the gait, and not to fuss getting into it. No bucking, kicking, dropping, taking up wrong leads, or looking out of the pen. If he does any of that, I turn him and have him lope off the opposite direction.  That’s it. The energy stays the same, very relaxed, and the expectation remains the same…until he finds the answer. 

The same work is done in saddle. Keep him moving forward at the same pace, but keep my hands and reins steady, allowing him to find his space and figure out how to carry himself. Keeping the reins firm, and allowing to find his space and balance, also keeps him from rooting at the bit and dropping his head too low.  

Last Wednesday, we added turns on the haunches against the rail, the lateral work we had been introducing, then trotting off the opposite direction. Tweed took up the lope, instead, and Regina said that I should keep going and pretend it was my idea. 

He has the cutest little rocking horse lope! I’m not used to riding one like it yet. It’s like Tumbleweed is my new dance partner, but I haven’t figured out his best dance moves. 

Like learning to dance, there is a lot to think about. My head is spinning with information—legs, hands, seat, shoulders, balance. His attention, speed, confusion, …and my trainer’s instructions. Sometimes, it feels like I’ve never ridden a horse before. 

Very humbling…and rewarding. 

Here are videos of our last session. 

This section is lateral flexion, but only one step at a time, then I am to return to the neutral position. Tweed has to take responsibility for his body, getting more upright and solid in his corners, then be ready to see what I want next. Balance. Lateral suppleness. Attention. Cooperation. 

The next section is lope to trot transitions and keeping up the gait. 

The last video is saddle work. Here we have worked on turns on the haunches and forehand, and we’re putting it to work against the rail at a trot. This is where Tweed takes up the rocking horse lope. 

I love this work and how far Tumbleweed (and I) have come in a week with Regina. 

I want to add a thought about rolling. On our second lesson, Tweed got worked up because I turned the other horses out to pasture, but not him. We didn’t do any saddle work that day, but instead concentrated on trot lope transitions and attention. At the end of that session, he wanted to roll, and I had unhaltered him. Regina told me not to let him roll as long as I was still in the round pen. 

Because he has a history of wanting to roll inappropriately, she wants me to have very clear boundaries. He can only roll when I leave his area and he is sure there is no more that will be asked of him. She said she wouldn’t usually be that picky, but we’re being extra careful. 

There is a video of work I did alone, Tuesday, where my friend who had stopped by to watch and take a video, captured Tweed spooking when he trotted past her. I’ll share that in my next post, but basically, Regina looked at the footage and thought he did really well controlling himself and getting back to work. That was the first, and only, spook of this season. 

Tumbleweed is trying really hard for me, and I love him for it. I won the horse lottery with this boy. 


On another note, I have to sing the praises of these sandals, too. 


On our last day in Sedona we hiked to the Birthing Cave, then 2.5 miles to Chapel of the Holy Cross, then 2 more miles back to our car, and later a short walk around our neighborhood. 

In total, it was 11.5 miles, and I walked it all barefoot in Chacos sandals. They were stable, had good traction, and supported my high arches. They’re kind of a miracle sandal. 


  1. Your boy looks good! Love it when they start to figure everything out and become that solid mount you hope for.
    Spring lessons pay off for summer riding!
    He sure has bulked up and got his mature body now. And sure can see that rocking chair lope in the second video.

    1. Yeah, he is really figuring it out, which is saying something, because I am trying to figure it out, too. In that last video, we had done lateral work at a standstill first. We got the vertical flexion, then asked for turns on the forehand and haunches with the leg. When we put it together at the trot, I was trying to use the rein to keep him from bonking the rail, but she wanted me to do exactly what I had done standing still, sit back on my pockets and use the leg, and only support him with the reins. When I finally did it right, it worked. You can see how much effort Tweed is putting in to understanding and doing what is asked, and he has the patience of Job with me. He has matured into an amazing horse.

      His body changed a lot this year. You can feel the difference in saddle. His reactions feel much more solid and balanced. That makes me feel more confident, too.

      A lot of work goes into “trail riding.” When you finally ride them out on a loose rein, so much more happened to get there. Every part of it is so rewarding. ❤️ It is building our partnership.


  2. I love how much you’re enjoying the progress. And those sandals sounds perfect

    1. I love this work. Tweed is being so patient with me as I struggle to figure it out, and he is also trying to figure it out. It’s all wonky right now, but we have moments where we get a few wonderful steps.


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.