Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Rest Area, and Carrying the Energy Forward

Both boys have been working well, and Red is moving towards being back in full work - we can trot without paying much attention to how long, but I try not to push him to the point where he's super tired to avoid reinjury while he's regaining his fitness (and I hope losing his big belly).

Yesterday for some reason he was a bit more up and spooky than normal - he's fairly hot even on the calmest days, but he really was motoring yesterday.  We got some very nice forward stretching down trot work, which is what he needs to regain his fitness.  There were a couple of spots in the arena, including by a corner where there's lots of stuff piled up - barrels, jump standards, tarps, you name it - where he was prone to shy away a bit as we went by.

Instead of bracing and pushing him into the scary corner, I did something different.  We worked by using the corner area as a "rest area" - we just hung around on a loose rein, either walking or just standing there.  This helped to "de-energize" the corner - I wanted him to feel the low energy and relaxation of just resting there.

Then we went back to our trot work, but I changed a couple of things.  First, I worked on deliberately lowering my energy so I wasn't amping him up.  Then, as we approached the corner, we transitioned to walk and walked through the corner each time.  If something isn't working well at a particular gait, I try to make sure it's right at a lower gait first. Pretty soon, he was walking through there with no issue, forward but relaxed.  We went back to trotting the whole way around, and he was just fine - still forward but no spooking.

We did some trot/walk/trot/walk transitions, which were good for both of us but particularly for me.  Later, Pie and I worked on the same thing.  I can tend to be abrupt with dialing down my energy in a downwards transition - that's all I do for changing gaits, together with changing the rhythm in myself - and if I'm abrupt, the boys, who are very "there" with me, will also do an abrupt transition.  So, in order for us to do a smooth transition, I need to bring the energy down while still carrying it forward appropriately into the new gait - no just dropping the energy level.  I find that keeping my focus up and out (instead of on the horse's head and neck) helps keep the motion through the transition up and out, leading to smoothness.  Works like a charm with both horses - they like smooth, too, but I have to give them that myself for them to oblige - otherwise they just do exactly what I've asked for (abrupt).  Funny how that works .  .   .


  1. Growing up, I was always surrounded by horses. We lived on a large piece of land, which means we had many horses. After I got married, and had kids, I haven't been out as often as I would like. My husband and I recently bought a new home, that has horse property. I am so excited, and am beginning my search for some new horses. I will also need to find a vet, as my current vet does not work with horses.


  2. I swear I need you to translate for me, I talk about energy and resistance and the flow of energy and I think I sound like a wacko, you talk about the same stuff and it makes perfect sense!

    1. Oh no, you're not a wacko! Sometimes that's one of the best things about blogging, we can see that we're not alone in the horse world with how we think/feel/sense these things. I find this stuff incredibly hard to write about, since it's so non-verbal, but sometimes writing about it helps me clarify how I approach improving my riding.

  3. I for one appreciate the time you take to put this stuff into words! It really helps me as I tend to just go by feel when I'm working with my horse, then something you have written will click with me and it helps both me and my horse.

  4. I like your approach to the spooky corner. I've tried other methods with mixed success. This sounds like a better approach.

    Glad you are getting good riding time in. Your Boys are making great progress.


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