Early Days

Our First Vertical

I didn’t get a lesson this past weekend (although I did do some riding and my husband came and took pics – will upload soon!), so I took an extra lesson Monday night to make up for it.

Hemie was a bit fired up in the round pen. New procedure from commander Laurie is to be a bit less concerned with keeping him calm and more concerned about him not cutting corners in the round pen, and ensuring he respects my body language to force him to stay out in the circle. We are also working on keeping tension on the longe line at all times – a light but steady contact.

I hopped on and he was a good boy. First we did flat work, and we are also changing this up as well. Instead of just a very light but steady contact, I’m now asking for solid, direct contact with the outside rein. Its okay if his head is pointed outwards, though tugs on inside rein are okay to prevent him from getting too crooked. Hemie is no longer plunging his head downward or shifting his head around wondering where to put it – he found a comfortable place to put it, accepts light contact, although at this point there is no “shape”.

He was really good about accepting a firmer contact with the outside rein. It took me a few minutes to figure out that Laurie was giving me *new* instructions, but  then we all got on the same page. For some reason its difficult for me to keep such a firm hold of his outside rein: (A) it feels crooked, and (B) it feels mean. I just have to keep telling myself that we’re teaching him to hold it, but I have to show him how to do it first by holding it for both of us. He’s not insulted by it, so I shouldn’t be. And even if he was, that’s part of training.

We also worked on on me keeping some contact during downward transitions, so as to not let his nose get even further from his body (it’s already quite far – again, no shape yet at this point). He was very willing, and automatically kept his body uphill and light as a result of it. He is responding to half-halts, but I still need to work on getting him moving forward off of leg contact. I’m still clucking and bouncing my legs, although I’m using the whip to tap his shoulder a bit more. I just need to stop nagging and start telling.

We did some trot poles and he was a rockstar from the first. It wasn’t long before we had a crossrail, then moved up to the vertical. At first I was very light on the reins, but then straightness became an issue, as he wanted to bend his neck and wiggle his body. We got over it with more contact, and I’m sure we’ll find a better flow and balance of contact with releasing over the jump (not my strong suit – normally I either hold on too long or let go too soon).

Regularly scheduled lesson is tonight. I’m wondering if I should starting having Laurie put training rides on him in lieu of a lesson every so often. I never really did that with Spirit, but mostly because she wasn’t my horse and I cared more about us both participating than in her training in general. With Hemie, I want it done *right*.  Thoughts?

2 comments on “Our First Vertical

  1. It's always nice to get a little pro perspective. Maybe have her ride the first part of the lesson, then you finish it off? I like that method just because it helps the horse and lets me see what's going on, then I get to feel it.

    That said, some people take special pride in being the only person to train their horse or somesuch. I'm not one of those people, but if you are, it's something to consider.


  2. Yah! Good for you and Hemie!


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