Harnessing Energy and Lightening my Hands

I was really pleased at the way that I managed to harness Gordon’s excess energy last weekend. On Friday had another solo ride where Gordon was feeling really fresh. Rather than letting my nerves impact the ride, I just worked to push him nice and forward and worked him for longer than usual. It took awhile to get him listening and focussed on me, but eventually I managed to gain his control. Once I gained his attention we ended having a great ride because I had a lot of extra impulsion to work with. In particular, I remember feeling really pleased with some of ten-metre trot circles. He was really lifting, bending and engaging and I felt that I was really listening to his cues and moving with his body. Overall, I finished the ride on a great note considering how much horse I was confronted with at the beginning of the ride. Also, since he usually has troubles focussing when alone in the ring, I was glad that I managed to work him out of his funk without having to rely on having another horse around.

Saturday’s ride was even better. There were other two horses in the ring, and because I rode Gordon for so long the night before, he was much more focussed and less flighty/rushy. I enjoyed the ride thoroughly and finished with a really nice, balanced canter on his weaker side. He is getting so much stronger and is able to canter for much longer without breaking. Further, he is really starting to muscle up again with the combo of being ridden more and having his grains “upped” a bit. However, I did chat with his owner (my coach) about how much she is able to ride him. She’s been super busy with all of her kids, students, clients, and a recent sickness, and as a result hasn’t been able to ride Gordon much lately. I mentioned that I couldn’t make it out more than three times a week in crazy April, and that it would it be nice if he could be ridden a bit more – especially given the fact that his grain portion has increased, and he has a lot of excess energy. This conversation seemed to work because she’s ridden him more since, and we’ve talked about reducing his grain just a bit until he’s getting ridden six days a week.

In any case, I had two really great rides and I was feeling awesome with our progress. I had a really good bonding night with Gordon on Friday too, and had fun taking some cuddle selfies with him:

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So, as a result of these great rides, I went into my Tuesday night lesson with a really great mind frame. I felt sure that Jenn would see some improvements and would be happy with how things were coming along. However, this wasn’t really the case. Jenn had found the time to ride him the night before, and found him much heavier than he had been the last time she’d ridden him (it had been a few weeks). This made me feel a bit discouraged. While many elements of “us” as a team are improving – our transitions, the quality of our gaits, etc., – I was unhappy that I’m regressing his training. I think the reason for this has to do with the fact that I’ve ridden a lot of heavy horses in the past, so I’m accustomed to feeling a lot of weight in my hands. I’m accustomed to supporting the horse I’m riding a lot more than I should. Also, Gordon has been so uber-forward lately, that I think I have taken to pulling him back a bit because of my own fear. Now that Jenn pointed this out, my new number one riding goal is to always make sure I’m not supporting Gordon too much. I’ll do this with lots of halt-halts, and by giving away my outside rein from time-to-time to ensure that he’s not letting me hold him together.

Besides for this unwelcome realization, the lesson was actually quite nice. We worked on making sure I wasn’t supporting him and he felt much lighter by the end of the ride (although sometimes to the point that he was sneaking out of frame). We worked on some full-school canter and had some really beautiful transitions downwards and upwards. His right-lead canter wasn’t as balanced or nice as it was on the weekend though. Lastly, we did a serpentine exercise where we crossed a pole at x during each loop. Gordon was very careful during this exercise and did not stumble at all. He was easiest to bend when I played a little with my inside (bending) rein, and supported with the outside leg. It is easier for me to turn him going left, although I might rely on too firm of an inside rein (rather than a playful rein) at times. In any case, I’m still really happy with where we currently are. Things have improved drastically in the past few weeks. I just need to stay focussed and keep my goals in mind – specifically riding with more seat and lighter hands!

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