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Author: Subject: "Reset to normal"

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[*] posted on 6-7-2015 at 03:34 PM
"Reset to normal"

I had a lesson with Donald Kear at the weekend on Jack.

Jack and I had two stressy rides last week. One ride was in the school and he bucked me off . I think this was caused
by a horsefly or maybe a hornet biting him near his sheath very shortly after I mounted and before I had both feet in the stirrups...I got back on afterwards but I admit it shook me a bit.

The next ride after that was his first hack out in an open space (in company) when unfortunately he was really fidgety with flies on his chest so he was shortening up for a lot of the ride.

Jack is only four and in the scheme of things he's doing brilliantly but I'd come to expect all rides on him to be easy and confess I was worried that all my old nerves would come back.

Saturday I had a lovely ride on Rannoch and was reassured to find that whilst Rannoch was not saintly he was predictable ...so we were fine.

Sunday I rode Jack over to the Donald Kear lesson and thought I was doing a half reasonable job of sitting back, sitting up and breathing. I was certainly thinking about all these things.
(I did try the wither scratches and the poll to neck scratches too..but found that doing either lifted my seat bones off the saddle and had me tipping forward
which didn't feel like the right thing to be doing at that point.)

I explained to Donald what had happened during the week and although we'd hacked there on our own I was in fact rather anxious and Jack was shortening up.
Donald immediately had us working in quite a small figure of eight pattern with long reins where the only objective was to activate the inside hind and encourage Jack to extend his frame.
Meanwhile I had to really relax but keep my fingers closed on the reins. I found that bit tricky actually. As soon as I relaxed I found my fingers opening!
Activating the inside hind was to be achieved by long reins , not being tempted to use the inside rein to get the turn, weighting the inside hip and using my inside leg. On Jack's stiffer side
(the left rein) this meant that this bit of the figure of eight got a bit warped..but that didn't matter. The object wasn't accuracy of the shape. It took a lot of leg to get that left hind stepping forward and under.
More than I would have had the nerve to use without being under instruction, given that Jack was quite jumpy.

45 minutes later and Jack had dropped into a relaxed extended posture and I was breathing properly. There you go said Donald "reset to normal".

We rode home on a relaxed rein with me feeling very much better. Phew!
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[*] posted on 6-7-2015 at 04:08 PM

Incidentally, the explanation for the exercise was that many horses find moving anti clockwise (i.e. the left rein) harder
and when tense will tend to stiffen up more on the left hind and look to the right which can often lead to the rider hanging
on to the left rein and creating more tension as the horse then braces against that left rein.

Relaxing the horse therefore often comes from asking him to use the
the left hind more . However whilst lateral work such as turns on the forehand do encourage the horse to use the inside hind
they also tend to lead to collection which isn't want's needed
with a tense horse/rider combination (even though it might initially look "prettier"). The loose rein exercise
figure of eight exercise encourages the horse to step the inside hind both forward as well as under
which will tend to cause the neck to extend and drop and relax him.

The exercise also teaches the rider to feel through their seat for when the back has lifted rather than being tempted to
look down to see where the head is.

Interestingly I've fallen into a habit of riding Rannoch in figure of eights as our way of warming up whilst waiting for our time
slot at endurance events. I will now make sure I'm not hanging onto the left rein or trying to use it to get the turns. Lifting the belly and
extending the stride makes lots of sense for endurance events..it's less trot up/downs for the same distance and I find it much smoother to ride!

[Edited on 6-7-2015 by Jeanette]
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Posting Freak

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[*] posted on 6-7-2015 at 04:35 PM

very impressive, it is easy to forget how different they can be and jack is still
a young lad, but well done anyway
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Super Freak

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[*] posted on 6-7-2015 at 04:42 PM

Your lesson obviously came just at the right time before your nerves take over. Well done. Interesting how although our highland boys aren't perfect. They are familiar. :) and that in itself is a comfort.
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Hazel T
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[*] posted on 6-7-2015 at 05:08 PM

That lesson definitely came at the right time and pleased to hear it helped. I will try this myself when I school duncan tomorrow. So it should be a long rein, not a loose rein?
Jack is very young so he is doing very well and those pesky biting insects can certainly agitate the ponies. On our hill we have few biting beasties but when we dropped down into the valley yesterday, the horse flies were driving them mad and even Duncan wanted to rush home and rushing is not his thing at all!
It is easy to lose your nerve so well done for keeping the nerves in check.
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Hero Member

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[*] posted on 6-7-2015 at 07:29 PM

The lesson sounds very encouraging with good techniques. I do sympathise with the flies, I got bounced off a few years back by Cara getting bitten underneath, I now always smear aloe vera gel or like around underneath before I ride in very bad fly times. I can't say if it does any good, but she hasn't done it since and it makes me feel better:heh hee:
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[*] posted on 6-7-2015 at 09:41 PM

Interesting lesson and, as others have said, just the right time for you. Still very early days with Jack. :hug::hug:

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[*] posted on 7-7-2015 at 06:42 AM

Nerves are bastard things that can strike at any time. At least you have had the sense to pull in the 'big guns' to help you reset. A few wise words and encouragement can make all the difference. When I had my bad fall from Rabbit and injured myself I didn't ride for 6 months. I would start shaking just thinking about it :nerves: getting a brave person to ride her in that time was the best thing I could have done. Jack will feel so much better now you feel braver. :) they certainly do feel our tension.
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Super Freak

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[*] posted on 7-7-2015 at 08:21 AM

There's always going to be rough spots with youngsters but it does sound like your making great progress :hug:

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Super Hero

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[*] posted on 17-7-2015 at 06:14 AM

Well done to you and Jack, DK sounds a great person to have lessons from, lucky you

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Posting Freak

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[*] posted on 19-7-2015 at 05:21 PM

Very interesting and informative, Jeanette - thanks so much for posting these detailed reports on your work with your ponies. I find it fascinating seeing how what you are trying to do with your boys dovetails with what I'm trying to do with Nutmeg - someone else's thoughts on how to achieve the same thing is really great! I don't think I could verbalise it all nearly as clearly as you do though:blush:
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