It's hard to have a blog centered on riding and training when you aren't riding or training that much.
The weather up here has been so cold, and I have not been riding. Mainly because when it gets around 20 degrees it's hard for me to breathe, but also because I really hate to be cold. And I hate riding when I'm all bundled up and can't move very well. Riding in the winter sucks, no doubt about that.
I've been getting to ride 2 or 3 times a week. And I don't ride for all that long, because I don't really think it's good for the horses, or me, to be breathing that cold air while exercising. I know a lot of people will disagree with me and say it's fine, but I'm still not good with it.
I had this grand idea that I'd be able to do some training and even take some lessons with a fellow student of my trainer's while my trainer is in Florida. I only wanted to do two a month for January and February, but the way it's going neither I nor the horses will be in any shape for lessons! Maybe in February, but January looks doubtful.
Although we're not making great progress on the fitness end of things, I'm making some small progress with my riding technique. When I had my last lesson, my trainer and I worked on Albert and making him be submissive to my hand without tugging on me or making it so I have to move my hands a lot and loosen his neck all the time. She told me that I should keep my hands steady and just push him into the contact and not let him resist or go backwards or stop. The goal was to have him move quietly forward into my hands without tugging.
We were able to achieve this, and over the past few weeks I've noticed something - I move my hands way too much. It's just a bad habit that I have, to always adjust the horse with my hands first. I was not only doing it on Albert but also on Kaswyn. If I would get any kind of resistance to the bit, even if it was a little tightening of the neck, I would immediately move my hands and fix the problem.
So what I've been doing lately, with both horses, is what when I feel the need to move my hands around, I don't. I just let them be against my hand for a moment, and then drive forward with my leg and seat. It's like I'm taking a really long half-halt that the horse initiated by coming against my hand themselves. Kaswyn and Albert are trained enough to know what they are supposed to do, and now both of them will soften on their own. As soon as I feel them give, I also give a touch with my hands. I had already worked through a lot of this with Albert, but when I realized what I was doing with Kaswyn I started the technique with him. He didn't get it at first, and just kept resisting. Eventually he gave in his neck and as soon as he did I released a little with my hands so we were meeting halfway, and then told him what a good boy he was. The time that I had to do the long half-halt with him has shortened, to the point now where some of them are just momentary.
It's times like these when I feel like I'm really getting it. I just wish I could ride more right now, and ride comfortably. Hurry up and get here spring! I miss ya!
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