January 22, 2014

A Seesawers Confession

1/22/14 lesson recap.

During the lunge session we only had two bucks, a sign that she would most likely behave well during the ride.  At 0 bucks, you should be suspicious she is planning something; when she hits 5 bucks, you need to ride Western for a false sense of security. If she hits 10 bucks, and you ask your trainer to give her a training ride and your trainer replies, "You will never learn if I get on her before a lesson," you know you are in for a horrible day. Luckily, this was not one of those days.

She is gonna get you!
There are two things you must know about me before I continue on with this post:
1.) I am getting out of a seesawing habit.  You can blame this terrible habit on a previous trainer of mine that told me, and I quote, "Seesawing is the only way to get a horse to round."  Both he and I were ignorant in the ways of collection.
2.) I ride with a tight rein due to that same trainer (see tomorrow's post for the details) and because Ypke can be a bit unpredictable at times.

I decided to try something different today: to quit seesawing and give her a loose rein. What caused me to make this decision you ask? Well, seesawing and tight reins just were not working. Plus, after reading blog posts, I can tell that the method I was taught (really... you should come back tomorrow and I will explain everything) was a wheelbarrow load of manure.

Alas, I started out on a very loose rein and waited to see if my plan would work, or if I was going to fail miserably. Much to my surprise, the pony was actually being good! Very relaxed and not worried that the sky was going to fall. We moved up into the trot, and I left the reins alone and gave an ever so slight squeeze with my calf. After this, I actually felt her round, and she slowed her pace!  Before, she would just put her head down and not really "round" — we were just faking it.

We ended up moving on to small circles and with a slight lift of the inside rein while keeping the outside rein pressure even, we maintained a rounded/collected circle!  There was no more sky high head bracing against the circle like there was when I seesawed.  Of course, we are just in the early stages of collection and are not masters of the concept, but I could feel we were going in the right direction.  I could tell the difference between the hollowed out back and the rounded back. What a change!

Eventually, Mrs. Yppy (pronounced similar to Mississippi) decided she was absolutely done halfway through the lesson. Ypke doesn't have the greatest work ethic and gets bored very easily. She decided that she wasn't going to do small circles at a slow jog, and decided that star shaped circles at a "run for your life" speed would be much more acceptable. She also figured that she wasn't in the mood for slowing down.  Envision a giraffe loping across a vast area, about to crash into a tree, with someone sitting on it's back, trying desperately not to die. If you can imagine that, kudos to you, I can't.  For those of you that fall into category 3 and need a visual aid, I had the decency to make one for you.
A moment of terror
There I was: riding the giraffe-necked horse at an insanely fast trot, about to crash into the horse's butt in front of us. I hate it when people ride up Ypke's butt... now I was riding Ypke up some other horse's butt. I tried to make the pass, outside rein back, inside rein slightly up, and outside leg. Ypke wasn't having it and stared up at the sky, saying her last prayers before the inevitable. I think I joined her in those prayers. Enough was enough, and I demanded that she turn... she finally did with just inches to spare. Needless to say, we practiced passing A LOT until finally she was passing well.  We ended the lesson while I was ahead and did a free rein walk.



  1. LOL, whew is right. Glad you're on the right path now :)

  2. Good for you! I have just learned how to (occasionally) achieve collection myself and it is such a cool feeling when my horse comes round and engages her hindquarters.


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