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
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!