Lucky Gets Schooled

And so does his rider. We had a clinic at the barn today with Amanda, a dressage and “natural horsemanship” trainer. (The quotes are not a commentary on her. I obviously don’t take the whole idea of “natural horsemanship” as its own thing very seriously. What’s there that’s useful is not anything unique to NH. What’s there that’s unique isn’t all that useful.) Despite my eye-rolling, we started with groundwork. On the plus side I don’t think Lucky OR I would have lasted all three hours mounted. Lucky mentally, me physically, but more on that latter.

I’m still not especially sure I get the point. The useful groundwork came at the end of the day, when she took some time with Lucky in a rope halter and long line getting him to walk over a tarp and rudimentary lunging. (I don’t think I’d ever use either equipment and I cannot get past dragging line–I broke a bridle once when Benny stepped on a loose lunge line. It just isn’t sensible.) He got past giving the tarp the stinkeye to walking over it with either of us leading. The tarp thing bugged me as he’ll walk over anything out on the trail, and I’m glad she got him going over that. And since he’ll go out now on the long line (ie away from me), I can start thinking about longing in side reins to start getting his nose down and building up his back so the round pen isn’t such an athletic exercise under saddle. I wouldn’t say it was Parelli, or any one NH trainer style in particular. But I still do not see the need to carry a dressage whip to walk him. If I want him out of my space, I elbow him. If I want leverage, I can put the chain on. He walks, he stands, he backs. And I truly think she was wrong–I don’t think he has any problem with whips, I think he bugs out when you wave something at him and then gets over himself. He did the same thing when I used a broom under him and when I picked up a rail and dragged it with him. I doubt he even can equate a dressage whip with a racing whip (that would be more like a crop, which I carry whenever I ride without any trouble.) Of course he let me basically bop it right into ‘his space’ after she did the waving thing and he didn’t react. He gets over himself quickly.

I don’t get over myself quickly, which is a much bigger problem under saddle. Going in as ‘the good one’ is kind of unsettling. Yes, I canter, and everyone else doesn’t. But I’ve been doing this twenty-six years now (yikes.) For that amount of time, I kind of suck. And this time around, I know I may look like a drunken monkey at times, but if he goes on I don’t really care. Amanda actually complimented my eq, which was nice of her and it’s nice to hear I haven’t lost much, but I don’t know that I’m really that solid or effective. Lucky had pretty much hit the end of his tether about two hours in–the flies were not THAT bad, and he does not normal try to spin around and sidepass rather than go forward when he’s supposed to be standing. I did not help by getting worried when he starts to bunch up. I’m not sure why I turn into a nervous nelly when he does that in the ring while expecting it on the track. He has brakes, both places, but in an arena I do not have it in my head that he does.

He also hasn’t worked in that much company before, at least in a non-racing context. Which was interesting, but I think except for being somewhat uneasy when coming up on a horse or having one come up behind him (he doesn’t like being followed closely in the pasture, either, but he’s getting more assertive about telling them to back off) that wasn’t too bad. What had him doing his giraffe impression was distraction (it was windy), me being on edge, and his not liking being out for three hours. When we worked alone and I got over myself, he did better–Amanda wanted me to extend him, then slow him down at the trot, and I was thinking “Slow? This is the most forward he’s ever been, I’m not slowing him down now!” There was also cantering (for us, at least). He moves more like a gazelle than a horse, but he picked it up in both directions. The lead was still dicey, but he actually did a swap and I got an explanation of ‘posting the canter’ as a suggestion (I had never heard the term before reading COTH–when I was learning back in the Dark Ages, I was supposed to stick my butt in the saddle at the canter.)

And as far as Amanda can see, he does not look off, either on the ground or under saddle! The saddle fits, though she suggested a wither-relief pad (and I’ll look and see if I can get one cheaper than Dover and their extortionist shipping rates). His feet look to her like he just hasn’t had much sole cut away, and is due for a trim, which of course he is as Rich is coming Wednesday. The ouchy feel may have been identified by one of our “auditors”, Lucky’s masseuse, Laura. (She’s been seeing P-nut, who is doing a remarkable job aging in reverse–you wouldn’t recognize him as the same horse as when he arrived!) He had a distinct reaction in the sacroiliac area when she checked him over, especially on the right, which could be what I’m feeling as an “offness” on the front left. So we’re going to work out a schedule to get her out to do a series with him. That will hopefully go a ways to helping with the giraffe impressions, though probably not the horsey ADD. That will just be more butt on saddle time for me!

I wish I had a masseuse. I’m going to feel it tomorrow. Heck, I’m feeling it now. I also felt a pop in my upper leg when I first got on, which was not too bad on him, but not good on the ground, and REALLY not good after sitting to drive home. I am hoping it is a strain. If it were a full-on groin pull, I would think it would hurt a lot more than it does. Unless it’s stiffening up and setting up for a fun wake-up tomorrow. Though as I don’t have any dance plans that I know of until September, except for a studio dinner cruise in a couple weeks (next minor stressout–getting to Chicago for it), if I’m going to do anything requiring down time, now is the time.

I should has Laura do the dog, too. Puff is always so concerned. He needs to relax. Tucker on the other hand needs to stop rolling in dead things. Even small dead things. Coming home after a long day at the barn, I do not need to take the dogs out and have to explain why “Dead Bird” is not a cologne we like. On the plus side she did NOT chase the neighbor cat when it was headed down the driveway this morning, so I didn’t have to chase her across the street in my dressing gown and muck boots. (Come on, we’ve all done it.) Nor did they trample the herb bed again trying to give a thirteen-lined ground squirrel a heart attack.

All in all, a good day. As long as I do not abuse any newfound longing powers. He can go around me in a circle, he does not yet know anything about carrying himself. But I think I have the external reinforcement to push him a little more now, provided my brain can stay on an even keel.

Just not if it gets back in the nineties. We learned our lesson about that last summer.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Melissa Benkert
    Jun 13, 2011 @ 00:04:57

    I love reading your blog. Granted, a good part of it goes over my head since I’ve never owned a horse, and don’t know anything about riding other than the one time, ages ago, that I rode a horse in your parents yard. Your writing, though, your writing hooks me and keeps me interested even when I’m not entirely sure what’s going on. You paint a good mental picture, which helps immensely. And then of course there’s the little blurbs, like chasing after your dog in your bathrobe, that make me literally laugh out loud. Sorry, it’s just too funny! πŸ˜€

    • The Author
      Jun 13, 2011 @ 19:59:18

      That horse you rode was actually this one’s “cousin”. They’re both out of mares from the Hooper Farms line down in Florida. Lucky was a lot better as a racehorse, though!

      Glad you like the blog. πŸ™‚

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