Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Gabbrielle Learns New Steering Cues

I was dead tired after my Monday morning trail ride with Lostine, but I knew I had to get another schooling session in with Gabbrielle before the short work week begins. I keep telling myself that I'm going to ride Gabbrielle every day after work, but then either my boss makes me work late, or I crash on my pillow, or the neighbors are out doing some loud, distracting activity.

I've learned that if I wait until sunset to start working with her, it's too late, because that's when the neighbors come out. They can't stand the heat, so this time of year they stay indoors the majority of the day with the exception of sunrise and sunset, which is right when I need to take care of all my barn chores because of my work schedule. Unfortunately, for Gabbrielle, that means she has to suffer through her schooling in the mid-day and mid-afternoon sun on the weekends, because that's the only time we get some quiet.

It's probably best for the time being, because she's too tired and sweaty to act up, and I'm not doing anything other than walking her and working on steering cues. If I were trotting or loping her for long periods of time, I wouldn't make her do it in this heat. I can also use stopping to rest as a reward, since that's all she wants to do in this heat.

I continued our lesson on doing figure 8s until she was supple and responding to a very slight tightening of the inside rein and a slight touch of my inside leg against her girth. She got to the point where she was just doing the pattern without waiting for the cues from me, so I knew I had to change it up a bit.

I decided to take her back to the rail and keep her on it in both directions. That was easier said than done. The figure 8s were so ingrained at this point that she kept moving off the rail to turn in the center of the round pen. While I previously had been cuing her with a leg and a rein on the same side of her body, I was now asking her to move sideways by pulling the outside rein out to the side and pushing with my inside leg on the other side of her.

This confused her a bit. She didn't know whether to go in the direction of the rein pressure or curl around my leg. So, she just pulled on the rein and respected the leg. I decided to bring the riding crop into the picture and tapped her inside shoulder along with tapping the girth with my inside heel, while guiding her over to the rail with the outside rein. She caught on.

Once we made it all the way around the round pen in both directions while staying on the rail, I stopped her, petted and praised her, and then dismounted. She's really cute like Bombay about me dismounting. Both horses nicker when I dismount. I know they are expressing their joy over getting that fat lady off their backs, so those nickers really crack me up.

Oh yeah, and when I first mounted her at the beginning of the lesson I noticed that the saddle was crooked. Without thinking that I was on a totally green horse, I stood up and leaned to the side in the stirrup and started rocking the saddle upright. Poor Gabbrielle was walking in deep sand and turning at the same time, and with me putting all of my weight on the inside of her turn, we both almost fell over!

Oops. Time to lose a few more pounds. Oh yeah, and we made it through the entire lesson without the neighbors coming outside. They just parted their drapes and watched from their window.


Jeni said...

Sounds like a very productive ride! It's extremely hot here too... sucks for riding.

Breathe said...

I would be so scared to start a horse - you are doing a terrific job!

fernvalley01 said...

I think its great thet you treated her like an old seasoned horse to shift the saddle , you expected her to be fine and she was. And you ,quit picking on you ,I have seen picytires and you are not so big. I understand you want to loose weight and be more fit and that is great, Go for it ,but be kind to my blogging buddy!

Leah Fry said...

I hear you on needing more hours in the day. By the time I get home from work, I'm whupped. I suppose I could run in. change, and ride for awhile, but I know I'd get a fight, because as soon as I pull in the driveway, they are lined up for supper. I purposely don't feed them immediately, but they still get the connection.

And let's hear it for the short work week.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Wooohooo! I must tell you I am so impressed with the work you are doing with Gabbrielle....and how smart she is, too. You both are just taking it all in stride, communicating together while learning more about each other. I think it's just awesome!

Sorry about the heat, but what can we do. Before too long the summer will be over and then we'll all be complaining about the bitter winds and snow. sigh.


word verification: retrace

When winter arrives, we'll want to retrace our steps back to summer. lol!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Lisa - I heard someone say that the days are getting shorter already, and I thought, "Noooooooo! We just got out of six months of snow storms and already we are heading into winter!"

I don't mind the heat. I just worry that I might push my horses too hard when riding them in the middle of the day. I took Lostine on two loops on our last trail ride, because she didn't want to go home yet, but since it was heating up I made sure we took the shady route.