Monday, May 24, 2010

Long, Short and Stepping Under

Yesterday it was quite warm - almost 90F - and today's supposed to be about the same. I rode Maisie yesterday in the late morning - I figured she wouldn't mind coming in from her hot outside paddock, and I was right - I got a big whinny when I went to get her.

We worked, still at the walk, on more strengthening of the right hind - lots of stepping under and into the corners and turns, and some spiral-out work while going to the right. I could tell it was somewhat hard work for her, since she started out somewhat bracey when we began our work on this, but she improved as we went. She pretty much stays soft continuously at the walk now, without any curling up or going too low. This means that I now have a pretty clear idea of when she's struggling a bit with something because the brace tends to come back until we work through it.

In order to "sneak up" on halting without bracing, and in lines with Jean's very good suggestions from a couple of posts ago, which were in line with what I was also thinking, we did lots, and lots, and lots of transitions within the walk from long-strided, marching walk to shorter-strided walk, while keeping the same tempo. I did this without any hand or leg aids at all - just either "allowing" with my seat to get the longer strides, or slightly resisting the motion with my seat to ask for the shorter strides. We also worked on maintaining the impulsion regardless of stride length and on keeping the same tempo - so the shorter steps weren't slower, we were just covering less ground. She picked this up very quickly, as we've done some of this work before.

While I was grooming, and while I was untacking and giving her a rinse off in the wash stall, I asked her to ground tie. She did beautifully, and one of the boarders said "my horse could never do that" - this is a pretty traditional hunter/jumper barn where horses are always cross-tied. I told her that Maisie had always been a very fidgety horse until we worked on some patience and self-calming exercises. They probably think I'm a bid odd, and perhaps they're right!


  1. You and Maisie are really cooking. Good communication is such a good thing. You must be enjoying the indoor!

  2. It sounds like you are really able to do more of the work you've wanted to do with Maise!

    I would love to work on ground tieing. I'm going to comb through and find those posts.

    Who knows, maybe you'll rub off on some of those folks. Seeing a horse ground tie is always so amazing.

  3. I'm sure that you'll turn some heads in the new barn, but it sounds like you and Maisie are doing great and that she's feeling good again. I'm so glad that the change is working out well for you. Moving to a new barn is not easy, but you've managed to do it with your usual grace and no stress. I'm really enjoying the descriptions of your work with Maisie to soften her and get rid of the bracing. Very helpful to me - thanks!

  4. Sounds like the new barn is working out well and you and Maisie are doing great!

    Funny you should mention ground tying, I was just getting ready to write about that subject, myself. I taught my fidgety TB, Spider, to ground tie after I got tired of him breaking cross ties (and halters). Ground tying eliminates the "trapped" feeling he gets when he's tied in the conventional way.

    I always get a kick out of people who say "oh, my horse could never do that". Horses can do lots of things, if you let them!

  5. Sounds fantastic Kate!!!
    ...and if I did not know it was you could have been a duplicate of something I would write...those mares-Maisie and Wa, are so similar.
    I have to really work at downward transitions and Wa mare not sucking up like she is about to slide stop. I now that cowboy she was sent to did those..and he also leaned forward to transition up...cause when I do so- to pet her- or to move her mane- or look over at hoof boots(the past now) she move forward into trot or canter.

    I have to practice sitting strides and posting too... because if I sit...she automatically thinks of downward..and sucks up. With this is never ending. Her memory of what so strong.

    I love, love,
    love hearing of your new regime Kate! Living through you in training~

  6. Very good post Kate! Sounds like things are coming right along and things are working out good for you and all your horses.

    I too ground tie Bonnie and am working diligently with Rosie on this. Bonnie is so ground tie "broke" that I can walk across arena to gate while she stands where I put her. I always get the "wish my horse would do that" reaction as well. I say it can, and will if you work on it.

    Have a great week!

  7. All sounds so good at the new place. Also, "odd" is usually good in the horse world, I think!

  8. I wouldn't say 'odd' Kate .....I would say a very kind understanding horse owner who takes time to listen to her horses. Happy riding

  9. I think you and Maisie sound like you're having a good time and getting lots of good work in. There's nothing odd about a well trained horse with manners. Maisie is definitely the poster horse for how a horse should behave, I'll bet she'll be a good influence in her new barn.


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