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Tag: Raglan

This Horse is a Good Horse

This Horse is a Good Horse

Back in the dark days just before 2017 ended and we welcomed 2018 with wide open arms, I rode with TrainerM. It was not quite a lesson, not quite a clinic, not quite anything at allI feel like I’ve entered a strange, ephemeral phase of my relationship with my trainers; that feeling probably deserves an entire blog post, so we’ll save that for another daybut anyways, I was on a horse and TrainerM said some words at me and the whole thing went okay, I guess, but I also left the entire experience feeling generally incompetent and ashamed of where my riding was at.

Then I went home and a couple days later I jumped my pony and it was fantastic, so.

I haven’t jumped a lot of horses, but as I drove home from the barn that day, I started to think of the handful of horses I’ve had the honor of riding over (very tiny) fences. I thought about how each one made me feel, about their strengths and weaknesses and the things I liked about the them and the things I didn’t like.

Belle was a perfect point and shoot pony, but she took a lot of leg and was pretty choppy.
Boston was super smooth, but my nerves made me feel like he was going to bail on me.
Ezhno was… well, bless his soul, he tried to keep his feet on the ground as long as possible.

So the other day, during my lesson/clinic that wasn’t a lesson/clinic, I climbed aboard a horse that wasn’t mine in a saddle that wasn’t mine and had one of my most disappointing rides ever. The horse I was on didn’t feel like he had a very big motor, but I couldn’t figure out how to get more horsepower from him and TrainerM kept chastising me for fussing too much. Then I ate dirt coming up to the cross rail when he suddenly bolted sideways out from under me. It was an easy fall and I didn’t feel mentally jarred at all (yay, go me!), but even when we did get over the cross rail I just… didn’t like it.

Everyone always says that riding different horses makes you a better rider, but here’s a secret: I don’t think I want to be a better rider. I hate riding horses that aren’t my horse. I like that he’s big, and smooth, and smart, and that his green bean nature means that sometimes I have to dig in and help him out. The tiny moments where he scares me are far outweighed by the times where he makes me feel so, so strong.

So I guess this whole blog post was just a long-winded way of saying that I like my horse. Go figure. 😅

Getting Geared Up

Getting Geared Up

I haven’t been the best blogger the past few weeks. Things are moving so quickly that it feels like the moment I think of a post to write, I’m already three days too late. It’s part of the joy of having a green horse; sometimes progress happens so fast its hard to keep track of all of the little things. 😅

We’ve made some tack changes that I wanted to make sure I put down on here! I started to think about my tack right before my last lesson, when I had a series of not so great rides where Raglan was being a fussy baby about contact. I got a little advice from TrainerA, and then the experimentation began!

“mom, dis too many straps on face”

First thing I did was switch up the bit that we were using. I had been putzing around in a simple single jointed loose ring snaffle, but when he started acting up I messaged SellerH to find out what he went in before I bought him. She suggested I get a double jointed bit, so off to the Bony Pony I went! I tried two French link bits, a loose ring and an eggbutt. At first I didn’t love the fixed sides of the eggbutt (I felt like it made the reaction time of the bit much slower, like I was talking to him with a layer of cotton around my hands), but in the end I decided it was a better fit for us. I felt like the eggbutt was more forgiving of my not-always-awesome hands, and that he was more willing to stay with it than the loose ring.

The loose ring (left) is designed so that the bit isn’t stuck in one place and the rings can rotate, whereas the eggbutt (right) has a fixed cheek, so the ring can’t be rotated or moved around.

TrainerA also recommended I add a flash to Raglan’s noseband to prevent him from opening his mouth to avoid the contact while he’s being educated on the virtues of the horse-rider-handshake. This is something I had to do for Ezhno when he was first learning about contact, too. I don’t happen to own a flash, but I do have a figure 8, so I went ahead and added that to the mix after I was done playing with different bits.

Normal cavesson (left) versus the figure 8 (right). The figure 8 is designed to hold the mouth closed and prevent the horse from crossing his jaw without interfering with his airway.

The last addition to the mix is more for me than him: a running martingale. There have been a couple of moments during some of his I-don’t-want-to-go-forward tantrums where he’s gotten a little too close to my face. As a rider, I feel eight times more confident when I’ve got a martingale in my corner and I know the horse I’m riding can’t crack me in the nose. Plus it’s nice to have a little extra leverage for those moments where his head gets super high and he gets super strong. It’s made me feel a lot more comfortable!

You can see the rings of the running martingale starting to pull the reins down in this screencap. He was in the process of thinking about chucking his head into my face.

I’m still fussing with the fit of the martingale, but I’m happy with the changes for the time being! There will come a time when I can switch back to a regular noseband and no martingale, but for now our gear has me feeling very confident with the level of control I have over my unorthodoxly giant steed.