Thursday, August 28, 2008


Horses. My horses are coming to Olive Branch tomorrow!

I'm going to Como around 7:30 tomorrow. I'll halter everybody and lead them from the pasture over to the 1000-yards-away corral. Then when my haulers show up at 9 am, we won't have any horse chasing excitement to contend with.

One of the barn owners, Bill, (the husband of the lady who coached my last two lessons) is bringing the big dually and the 3-horse slant load. My cousin Robert is bringing his 2-horse. Robert will take Poppy, and Bill will take the three Walking Horses. Everybody knows where we're going, so I'll probably just follow the trailers as a safety net.

I am SO EXCITED. Today went sooooo sloooow, and Stephen begged/ordered me to come to work tomorrow afternoon so that's going to be hell, but I have Saturday, Sunday, and Monday to ride. Ride MY HORSES, in Olive Branch, then drive 30 minutes home and sleep and get up and do it again! I put in my 30 days notice here today, too, so in another week or two I'll go find an apartment in Olive Branch.

Ok, last week's dressage lesson. I should post about it before this week's fun gets started and I forget all about last week.

Got to the barn on time - my instructor was still working with the two gals who have the slot before me. I got the Ay-rab (my buddy Clipper) out and started grooming him. Noticed some wee tiny girth galls, so when the instructor came over I showed her.

If it'd been my horse - well, I probably would've cussed a lot and kicked the ground and not ridden him. (One of the few perks of having Too Many Horses is that odds are, at least one is going to be sound to ride - even if it's not the one you wanted to ride.) Anyway, the instructor did the same. She grumbled a bit and felt the tiny little galls and sighed and said "put him up, we'll use Jazz."

Jazz is a huge sorrel QH. He's a little more opinionated than Clipper, but not as experienced or well-trained. I found his itchy spot (crest of his neck) right away so we got along fine.

The very first thing I did was tell her about how unexpectedly hard last week's lesson had been. Basically I said a shorter version of what I'd posted here.

First we worked on neck bends - mount up, get the horse square, then ask him to bend his neck left and right, at a standstill. Jazz was very very stiff to the left - didn't want to bend at all, period, but finally obliged a few times and gave me a tiny bit of left bend. He'd bend to the right no problem.

Then we did quite a bit of riding squares. Ride straight along the rail til you get to a certain point, then look left, then pull* on the left rein only until the horse has made the left turn.

*Ok, I know there are many better verbs than "pull", but basically it boils down to pulling. Not yanking - but not neckreining, which is the only other thing I'm vaguely familiar with. Again with the semantics, I could write an entire post about the amount of force and intent behind it - but yall know I'm not hateful, and when I say "pull left" I mean... pull left.

Pulling just one rein was quite hard for me. I have only ever direct-reined as a prelude to teaching neck-reining, so I had to consciously tell that right hand to STAY STILL. I wanted to pull with left hand and use my right hand to drape the right rein on Jazz's neck. After I consciously mastered not wanting to neck rein, I still wanted to give a little with my left hand. I think I didn't want Jazz to try to turn his head to the left to obey my left hand but run into the right rein/bit. I am scared of contact.

After a little coaxing I managed to try pulling left while keeping right still and you know what? Jazz turned his head to the left, which took up some contact on the right, and turned left without being confused or upset at all. Pretty neat.

(Of course, we did all this in both directions several times. It's just that I know this isn't the clearest example of horsemanship yall have ever read so I'm not going to try to describe it as "the pulling hand and the other hand" or anything. And you know I'm not ready to call it "the opening hand and the giving hand" cause I'll get my terms wrong!)

Then the instructor explained diagonals to me. I never really understood the whole posting diagonals thing, but she walked me through the "why" and I actually get it now. I am feeling particularly clumsy tonight so I am not going to try and relay the explanation to yall.

Then we worked on the bending exercises again, where I'd ask Jazz to bend his neck without walking. He was much more responsive, in both directions. The first thing I thought was what Daun always says about how a good dressage session is supposed to leave the horse more supple than before! (I know she didn't invent that saying and I'm sure the rest of the dressage blogs I read also say that - but honestly, when Jazz bent like Gumby to the left and right I thought about this post first.)

Then my hour lesson had run well over an hour and a half so we quit yapping, much to the bored horses' relief!

I'll update tomorrow about how evil or good my horses were for the move.

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