Funny story. With our first eventing trainer, my friend and I would have a “debrief call” during the 30 minute drive home from the barn following our weekly joint riding lessons. We were new to eventing, but to be honest, the reason we needed to debrief was due to our trainer’s evolving communication skills. Frankly, there were times that we were so confused that not even an hour long debrief could help us figure out what the heck was going on! I giggle to think of some of those conversations now.
|New halter with fancy nameplate! Love it!|
Nowadays its a rare lesson that I don’t immediately understand and process what we’re doing during the ride. My trainer and I are generally on the same page and speak each others’ language, and Hemie is a very willing and clever horse.
But last week’s lessons were atypical. They were frustrating and confusing. Laurie and Bohemian and I were just not on the same page, and it resulted in some ugly moments. Both our dressage and jump lessons were a hot mess. But after several days of internal processing, I think I kinda have it sorted out.
Issue #1. Bending Right.
As Zoolander would say, Hemie is not an “ambiturner.” He just has a harder time bending right. Most horses have one side stiffer than the other, so on it’s own its not a huge deal. And we have been working on it since…well…forever. With some improvement, sure, but its still a thing.
Issue #2. Popping the right shoulder.
Not in the cool Michael Jackson Thriller dance kinda way. More like the “I don’t wanna bend right so I’m going to pop my right shoulder out instead” way.
Issue #3. Connection to the outside left rein.
The connection to the outside right rein is steady. The connection to the outside left rein is light as a feather, takes forever to achieve, and is hard to keep for very long.
Potential Issue #4. New bridle.
The Micklem has a piece similar to a flash. Mouth closed = can’t evade the bit. He didn’t object to this bridle the first few times we used it, so that’s why its only a *potential* component in last week’s issues.
So, what happens when you ask Hemie to bend right, then you block the right shoulder from popping out, while also asking for connection to the outside left rein, in a new bridle that has better bit support?
He feels trapped. And he acts out. And it aint pretty.
|Random photo from Sunday’s trail ride to the Reagan Presidential Library|
Now that I’ve spelled it out, I feel much better about it. I feel like I have individual things I can work on, rather than just an overall feeling of “ack! issues! tension! help!” With the exception of the bridle, none of these things are new. BUT, we are asking more and more of him with every ride, and sometimes we get the perfect storm.
This week my plan is to address these issues individually, and calmly. Before I get on I’ll think of several different ways to do that, and create a plan. Preparation is the key!