Thursday, April 30, 2015

"He's using his cuteness against you"

“He’s using his cuteness against you.”

My trainer told me this last night. This is a very polite way of saying “Your horse has your number and you need to do something about it.” Whoops.

See, she’s been riding him for the past week while I was helping Hubby with the jousting competition. And she apparently learned a lot about what it’s like to ride him, in addition to having a few very serious discussions with him.

Apparently, taking things seriously is hard for him.

Exhibit A: The mounting block. Paddy happily walks off the moment my butt touches the saddle. No more of that, trainer says. You get on, he stands until you say otherwise. Shockingly, he’ll stand still without so much as a toe hair out of place now. Huh.

Exhibit B: Walking. There’s a fine line between walking politely and using his butt and, well, not. I am learning to keep my core super engaged at all times to “hold” him to a polite medium (without pulling on the reins, of course), making sure our tempo is very consistent and he doesn’t get the chance to speed up and fall over his front end. We’re doing this more in the free walk too, “holding” while allowing him to stretch, but still riding the hind end. The nice thing is that our transitions from a polite walk to a trot are just that much better, and it’s so easy to feel when he’s falling over his shoulder that I can mostly fix it very quickly.

Exhibit C: Trotting. As my trainer puts it, “He’s taking over… HE’S TAKING OVER!!!” In the space between one step and the next, Paddy can go from politely trotting to tucking his nose in and bowling for dressage letters. She was impressed at how good he is at this, and noted that the MOMENT you pull to get him to stop/slow down, he pulls twice as hard and just keeps going. (Note that he also does this at the canter, times 10.) To counteract this, I have to ride. Every. Step. Quite literally, I am riding every step his inside hind leg takes. I cannot allow him to go straight – we have to be sliiightly shoulder-fore at all times. If I relax for even a moment (or, heaven forbid, think “Hey, this is pretty nice…”), next thing I know he’ll be charging off, ignoring my seat like he’s never heard of a half-halt before.  But IF I’m paying attention, and I’m quick, I can give a half-halt with my seat and apply some inside thigh to re-focus him and get that inside hind back under control. Our trot work has magically slowed down (it feels like we’re crawling, although I’ve been told we’re not), BUT he’s also much more obedient. I know we’ll get marked off on not being relaxed over the topline, but if I ride like this, maybe we’ll also not get comments about rushing and pulling? One can hope.

We’re not even talking about the canter. Things are getting worse before they get better, but damn, we have our work cut out for us on this one.

Oh and Paddy? Trying to commit Haffie-cide three days before a show is sub-optimal. I know cantering is hard but did you REALLY have to try to bank off a panel in the round pen, get BOTH front legs caught, and flip over mid-stride? Because you almost gave me a heart attack.

Scrape on back of heel/pastern

Slight ding on inside of LF

Rumpled hairs

Don’t worry, he’s sound despite me thinking I’d killed my horse. A bit stiff of course, but no heat and no swelling – just a bit of rumpled hair and a cut on his pastern. Thank goodness!

21 comments:

  1. Oh Haffie, you're cute but use your powers for good instead of evil!

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  2. Well, this is only YOUR side of the story. :-p I'm sure Paddykins has a perfectly reasonable excuse for all of this.

    <3 <3 <3 PADDY FOREVER

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    1. Hahahaha... yeeeah. Sure he does... ;)

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  3. Paddy says, "But Mom, look how ATHLETIC I am!" No more histrionics, Paddy! Best of luck at your show!

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    1. So athletic, but there are no flips in the dressage tests!

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  4. Omg bowling for dressage letters is my new favorite way of describing the magical nose tucking charging horses that we so love to be tormented by. Mine won't stand by the mounting block either. I put up with it for a few weeks without noticing that I was having to leap onto him as he took off wandering so now he has to stand still while I get on. And sometimes I get back off and hang out on the mounting block again and THEN get on again. Oh the horror!

    Good luck at the show :) tell Paddy to stop ripping up his legs!

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    1. It is JUST LIKE bowling for dressage letters, i swear! As for that mounting block thing, yeah, make the baby stand. Paddy's now a rock and I swear he's also more focused on work. What a difference the little things can make!

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  5. Dressage letter bowling is the greatest descriptor ever. So accurate. Until my current ride, I hadn't ridden a horse whose go-to move was this rushing, nose-tucking, fall on face, ignore rider input thing- so I am attentively listening to your game plan to combat this phenomenon!!!

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    1. What IS it with these horses?!?! I swear I'd rather have him go around with his head in my lap than stuck on his chest. Ack.

      I'll let you know my game plan as soon as I have one that involves more than "don't die". :D

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  6. I think you pretty much summed up why fast doesn't equal forward. A new perspective can be very enlightening. This is why I still take a lesson when I can even if it is only one a year. ;)

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    1. Lessons are the best, they really are.

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  7. oh Paddy... ugly progress is still progress tho - smart little haffie will figure it out quickly i think. good luck at the show!!!

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    1. Smart haffie uses his powers to evade instead of doing things correctly. Le sigh.

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  8. "HE'S TAKING OVER!!" lol Oh Paddy... mastering the contradiction of using adorableness as a weapon. It sounds like you and your trainer are getting a handle on things. Glad the damage was minimal. :D

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    1. He will totally take over in a moment, you just don't even realize what's happened. Naughty little thing!

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  9. Cuteness is a very powerful and irresistible force.

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  10. Cuteness is a totally underrated super power *nod*
    I'm so glad that his attempt at haffiecide were thwarted and that he wasn't too badly dinged in his antics. Love getting trainer insight!

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    1. I had not thought of cute as a super power before, but you may be onto something there!

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    2. Puppies and children totally use it to get away with acts of random Internet domination

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