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Lesson Recap: the Butt Button

Lesson Recap: the Butt Button

Many moon cycles ago, back when our right lead was nonexistent and I didn’t know the soft caress of French leather, we started working on our haunch turns. I wanted our shoulder control to be pristine, so every ride I worked on teaching him to yield to my rein and leg. These days it only takes a slight shift of my hands and he’s turning on a dime at the walk and the trotβ€”and the canter’s developing, too!

But while I’ve been sharpening up our shoulder control, tiny warning bells have been going off in the back of my head. We haven’t spent any time on hip control and I knew it was going to come back to bite me…

spoiler alert: this obnoxious move is spurred on by a lack of hip control

Unsurprisingly, it took TrainerM all of three seconds on my horse during his training ride to find that massive hole in his training. She’d put her leg on to move his haunches and he’d happily fling his shoulders around, only to end up infuriated when she told him that was the wrong answer. She rode through his tantrums and then immediately began planning my demise my next lesson.

totally unprepared for the hell awaiting us πŸ˜…

I wasn’t originally scheduled for a lesson last week, but when StevieO and I suddenly found ourselves with coinciding days off it was a no brainer. While StevieO picked up some tips and tricks for riding her green OTTB, TrainerM had Raglan and I tackling our hip control problem. Luckily, at some point in his training I did install a rudimentary (read ugly) version of a turn on the forehand, so he wasn’t completely unaware of how to move his buttβ€”he just couldn’t really do it while he was in motion.

Teaching a horse lateral movements is like teaching algebra; there’s a lot of partial credit involved. You ask them a question, they guess wildly, and when they do something even a little bit correct you give them a pat so that they know they’re pointed in the right direction. It didn’t matter if his shoulders squiggled around or if he charged off at Mach 10 or if he flung his head in the air, if his hips so much as twitched in the right direction he got lavish praise and I stopped jamming my spur between his ribs.

So mostly we looked like we were doing a lot of drunken circles and wobbly lines.

WOBBLY LINES? i would nevurr

It was a hard lesson, because it didn’t really feel like we were making any progress and Raglan just kept getting angrier and angrier. We quit early (when his rage became a physically palpable entity threatening to murder me the next time I kicked him). ALSO IT WAS SO HOT OUT.

dying, must drink more water πŸ˜–

But the next day I came out to ride and while he still wasn’t thrilled to have another haunches-in-focused ride, he got it. He couldn’t hold it for more than a couple of steps (it felt like a car with a bad transmission clunking into gear and then clunking back out a few seconds later), but it was clear that he’d been mulling over the concept while I was gone. Even the smallest progress is always so thrilling!

All for Naught

All for Naught

At the end of my lesson last Friday I scheduled a training ride for Raglan. My hope was that TrainerM would be able to take Raglan over some jumps and give me some advice on what things we should be working on when it comes to the jumping piece. TrainerM warned me that she wasn’t going to jump if she felt like Raglan wasn’t game for it, so I made it my goal to spend the week preparing him for her!

TrainerM was impressed with how he was doing throughout the week, so while I tacked Rags up for her she set up a couple of jumps. Raglan had been exhausted after our ride the day before, so I didn’t pop him on the lunge line before I handed him over to her. BIG MISTAKE.

It was ridiculously warm all week, but Friday rolled around and the temp dropped 20Β°. TrainerM got on Raglan and he was just… not paying attention. He wasn’t being naughty and he was technically doing everything that she asked, but he wasn’t really tuned in. He kept gawking at what was happening outside.

She popped him on the lunge and he was certified crazy, like he had one speed and it was GALLOP.

When she got back on, he was slightly more focused but also twice as hot. He chomped on the bit and flung his head around and pranced about like an ostrich refusing to go forward. It took 45 minutes before he started to look even the tiniest bit compliant, at which point he immediately pulled his patented Raglan snap kick and charged off with all the fury of a horse riding to war. TrainerM was not impressed.

Raglan wasn’t impressed either; what a butthead

But even though TrainerM didn’t get a chance to jump my uncooperative steed, it was a really great training ride. It was great to get to watch a professional deal with Rags when he’s in a less than stellar mood.

Lesson Recap: Stop Micromanaging

Lesson Recap: Stop Micromanaging

A lot of our lesson on Friday was focused on developing a better level of self carriage. Raglan’s at the point in his training where my entire style of riding needs to change so that he can continue learning. I’ve spent the past six months or so holding him up and showing him how to use his body, now it’s time to stop helping him and let him learn to do it on his own. It’s hard to turn off all of those instincts!

a raglan is hippo, not horseβ€”more mud, yus?

Like a lot of horses, Raglan is really good at locking himself into the right positionβ€”fake it until you make it, right? But at some point faking it isn’t good enough anymore. We spent a lot of time flexing him off of my inside rein until he started to unlock through his throat latch, waiting for him to maintain his strength while also allowing me to adjust and have access to his body.

who me? no i is a good raglan, v v bendy flexy c:

At this stage, Raglan wants me to pull on him. When things get hard he leans on my hands or chomps madly on the bit in hopes of enticing me to go back to holding him upright. For the most part I just have to put more leg on and ignore the temptation to pull on his face, which is easier said than done.

When we got to the canter I had TrainerM get on to feel out his right lead (my weak point). When she was done I did get back on and finish off my lesson with some canter work, but we didn’t do a lot. The right lead has always been my “stickier” side, but lately it’s felt super uncomfortable, like my body physically can’t switch to that direction. TrainerM showed me a couple of stretches I can do to help unlock my hip. It involves a lot of flailing my legs around, much to Raglan’s mild annoyance. πŸ˜‚

i hav floppy bitty ridurr, but then i eats grass πŸ˜€

There were a few other things we worked on mixed in with all of that self-carriage stuffβ€”slowing his marching walk down so that he’s four beating properly, turning his shoulders using only the reins and no leg, etc.β€”but for the most part it was one of those lessons that’s sort of boring but also very important.

Raglan’s got a training ride with TrainerM Friday afternoon! Finger’s crossed that maybe she’ll take him over some small jumps, but she also said that she’s not my crash dummy soooooooo we’ll see. πŸ˜…

Oh, and TrainerM confirmed that I need a new saddle. 😭

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