Friday, November 28, 2008

She Gets It... I Think

After spending a few weeks working on slowing down Lostine from a full out gallop to a rocking-horse lope, she surprised me this afternoon by controlling her own speed without requiring reminders from me. I lunged her in the round pen and for the first time in my life saw her maintain a slow, steady lope for many rotations. I was trying to decide if she finally got what I was asking of her, or if she was just too fat and tired to go faster.

She did the same thing while I was in the saddle. She loped slowly until I blew it by trying to readjust myself into a better equitation position. Lostine is very sensitive to my every move, so when I make any move at all, she assumes I'm about to ask her to speed up and she does. I stopped her and restarted, first making sure I was sitting in the proper position so that I wouldn't feel the need to readjust my legs and seat.

My husband drove into the driveway while Lostine and I were loping. He said, "Lookin' good!"

I was feeling quite pleased with my seat. I was especially proud that my hands were in proper position and my elbows were at my sides not flopping around.

I'm going to have to start working on training Gabbrielle to get control of her speed while lunging. She gets the walk, trot and halt, but when I kiss to encourage her up into a lope, she just trots faster and faster until she breaks into this spastic, out-of-control gallop that looks somewhat like a bunny hopping at top speed to escape a fox. The worst part about it is that she doesn't pay attention to where she's going and she crashes into the railing, sometimes falling on her side. For that reason, I don't ask her to go faster than a trot very often, but she has to start learning how to control herself at the faster speeds.

I'm guessing I will need to first get her head set by tying the reins to the saddle or surcingle, and then when I move her up to the lope with a kiss I will need to keep the lunge line tight and stay up on her shoulder rather than pushing from behind.

The picture of Lostine if from this past summer. Right now she is quite hairy and has put on a few pounds. I have a tendency to either ride or do a photo shoot. I then use the photos taken on one day over a long period of time so that I will have something to accompany my stories.


Train Wreck said...

Congratulations! That is such a great feeling. Good job on your persistence and patience in your training.

Mrs Mom said...

You go cowgirl! ;)

For Gabbrielle- she is still pretty young and growing, which will affect her balance and movement for a while yet. Make sure she has a very solid foundation on her and has an excellent WHOA there too. Maybe try to work in some lateral work to help build her body up, and so she can learn where she actually IS too. Younger horses sometimes, for lack of a better way to phrase it, loose their feet. It seems like they get going, trying to do as you ask, and BAM- they get all discombobulated and "lost". Take it slow, ask for only a few strides at a time, and let her feel her way through things.

Le Cheval Endiablé said...

Congratulations for your training. Lostine might be very beautiful with her winter fur.

Jenn said...

Good job with Lostine! I knew you two would figure it out.

I suggest NOT messing with Gabbrielle's head until she is balanced on her own at the lope. That head and neck helps them balance and if we start messing with their balancing mechanism it makes it that much harder for them to figure out how to balance the rest of their bodies on their own. Work on just getting her to lope now, ignore her head. When she's balanced in her body, then you can start moving her head and neck around.

It sounds like she just doesn't really understand what you are asking of her. In her mind, you are asking her for faster, and she gives you faster by trotting faster. When she gives you even one stride at the lope, praise the heck out of her and bring her come back down to a controlled balanced trot, let her get balanced, and ask for the lope again. Rinse, repeat. Instead of kissing at her, or clucking, use a different word to ask for the canter. If you are using a kiss for each gait, you're really just telling her to go faster, not to change gears for another gait. I just say canter, lifting my voice up on the last syllable of canter to kind of coax them "up" into the next gait. And off they go!

Good luck!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Thanks for the suggestions. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Shirley said...

Too bad your husband didn't get a picture of that! Love it that you are making progress, and without having to go to a trainer. As far as Gabbrielle goes, the others gave good advice,I might add that you could try without the longe line, in the round pen, and see how well she balances during free-longing. Just a thought!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I love reading about your riding time with Lostine. She is such a beauty, and quite sensitive, from what you write.
Good for you for always figuring stuff out on your own, often through trial and error.
Good luck with all the training of Gabbrielle, too.

New Mexico

Andrea said...

Congrats on getting her to slow down. All that hard work is paying off!!

Vaquerogirl said...

I wouldn't tie her head for the lope- that is sending all the wrong messages.
What needs to happen here is that she understands self carriage.That takes a long time, and you have to work on it constantly.
If you'd like more instruction drop me a line,and I'll explain better.
Keep going!