Welcome to Fern Valley

Here in central Alberta prime farm country,my husband Martin and I work together raising beef cattle and Appaloosa horses. Fern valley appaloosas have long been known for their quality of temperament conformation and color.I have recently rediscovered a love of writing and have published 2 collections of poetry. "Telling Tails" and Tails Trails and Campfire stories" . I look forward to a future spreading my wings as an author and as a horse woman .

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Look where you are going , and don't over steer

 This post was  started, then saved and started again several times,because ,I lost my train of thought, or something else took my attention  and finally because I  just could not finish it to my liking. Still don't know if  I can do that , but here we go ...

As you know I have been riding my two  young horse Cat (FV Catch A Dream) and Andee AV Docs Baby) a few times a week since they returned from training . As typical youngsters they are good girls , but with only 30  days training  we have some ways to go . They are still learning balance and rhythm  and we/I are learning it with them .
Andee is super soft and responsive  but at times when she is  trying to be evasive , she will tuck her head  right to her chest and try to get "behind the bit"  I have found opening my hands and picking her up a bit seems to help. But there is something else...

Now Cat on the other hand is a "Show me" kind of girl, makes you work for  her  a little bit but the end  is the same , getting her to respond to the bit and work engaging her hind and front end  her challenge. That little girl has such a big motor , she is perfectly comfortable  driving from behind and letting the front end be carried on momentum. Maybe not the total end of the world for some , but I gotta tell it makes her trot interesting ! Kind of like freewheeling downhill on a bike with no brakes!

Both these horses will improve with time and miles, but a way I can help them improve ,is to improve me . I have developed a bad habit or 10 over the years , and just lately seem to be looking down a lot more than I used to. Well you all know when driving ,if you are not looking far enough ahead of the vehicle  you tend to overcorrect and  wobble all over right? Well I compare the same thing  to horses, looking up and where you are going helps to , I don't know, plan your route?And physically prepare for  where you are going, making your direction changes ,less aggressive and more subtle ,more a case of supporting with the outside rein and smaller adjustment with the inside,more like neck reining . Like heading down a straight stretch of road  with your vehicle ,looking ahead and making subtle adjustments as you go , same with the horse ,you get a nice straight line along the rail or through the middle, looking and moving forward  with only subtle corrections to the course. Go Lightly posted a long time ago about this  and one qute, among many  that hit  home was

 "Anyway, whatever's happening, you have to ride it. Practice trusting yourself. Follow your instincts. ALWAYS stay ready, for anything, from the balance of your seat. Balance will save you, before strength."

 "think ahead"

I would likely be wiser to  just link to her blog and that post to explain , but I will continue to give this a shot 

Also I went to visit my niece yesterday and had a lesson in  long lining . Yes I have driven a horse  before but  long lining , or ground driving  in this way was not something i was familiar with. I had the pleasure of  working with Arse's full  brother Eirhart, another truly lovely horse , and he was sweet and accommodating my oh so subtle  direction lol. I was quite  careful to start ,ever mindful of how much more leverage you have  when driving as opposed to riding , and I certainly  did not want to jam him in the mouth! 
So there I am  walking along with this ginormous gentle giant teaching me how to ask for  things. He is a good teacher,and as I got used to the positioning and  the lines (trying not to hang myself ) I first felt like a bumbling idiot, then as I got a handle on it , I started to see  something ,I was head up looking ahead and planning my  course , as we went straight up the centre I was simply  balancing him and then as I changed directions , because I was looking forward as well as moving forward , it became a simple smooth turn. One of those "AHA !! its all coming back to me now moments!" I remember when I first learned to drive Sunshine, and my little cart we tacked  down the road like a renegade sailboat ,then I learned to ... Look where I was going and bam! straight as an arrow! 
So while Cat and Andee travel straight I find as we start to correct we can create that same renegade sailboat  look if we don't  keep eyes up and  forward, that too will help Cat  as the eyes up and forward  keeps me better balanced and more able to pick her up and balance herself at the trot. 
Sometimes we need to learn something new to remember something we already  knew !!!
Hope that ramble made a little sense 
Stay safe my friends


Jeni said...

Tucking behind the bit can be dangerous. In the "Dressage world" the answer to that is to sit deep, sink through the horse to the ground, open the hands up, and ask for much more forward of that gait.

And yes.. head up, eyes up, and just riding can get lost in the mechanics of riding a youngster.

I'm guilty of the eyes thing. While my head is up - I'm a master at downcast eyes!

LadyRider said...

Wonderful descriptions and understanding into your technique of riding and "feel." Yes, balance and picture where you are headed, always looking ahead and not fixing on any one point unless you can see a mile ahead on a straight stretch! As you balance and picture where you are headed and how you will get there, your body position will cue your horse and the need for reins will become less.

I LOVE Appys. My best lesson horse of all was a homely/beautiful Appy gelding who was worth more than gold in my heart and the hearts of the children and adults who gained confidence and "freedom" on him.

Enjoy your journey in training and learning!

Sherry Sikstrom said...

Lady Rider Welcome, and thanks for coming by. Jeni, yes and thank you that is what I meant ,opening my hands and asking her for more forward

Janice said...

Worked for me ....as I find myself doing that. Thanks for the reminder....and oh you made perfect sense.

Cut-N-Jump said...

Girl..... I have been doing so much ground driving and long lining lately it almost isn't even funny. When I started holding my lines like a pair of split reins- it all changed. My hands were softer, my pony was softer and HOLY MAMA! the action and stops I got out of him were beyond awesome!

But the whole thing with
-look up
-look through your turns
-look where you want to go

It all saved my ass on Saturday in the dressage ring. Our circles may not have been perfect, but each time I realized I was looking down at my pony in front of me, I corrected myself, even verbally saying "Look through your turns" and BAM!

Fixed that, nice and round and our scores were 7's with the comments of nice bend, good energy and a few other things I can't recall. Proof it does work when you apply it.

Cut-N-Jump said...

I just forgot to say- we had the overly soft, behind the bit thing going on too. To the point of no brakes at all. That part was interesting and fun- Not!

Reddunappy said...

Sounds like you have been busy with horses and doing what you love!!!
It is an eternal journey of learning isnt it!!

Crystal said...

Very good reminder, I too am bad at looking down at my horses, but I have been reminded numerous times my horses head will always be there, lol.

I had a horse that would tuck so much, we put a different bit on her and mixed her up with the hackmore occasionally and eventually she became normal (I don't know how else to describe it :)

GoLightly said...

aww, how nice was that?? Thanks, FV, It's nice to be remembered:)

Thinking ahead is what your horse is doing, at all times, it's only fair that you should, too:)

You are looking so good on these youngsters, girl.

Chin to chest?
GO FORWARD!! It's an evasion, and it needs corrected, as others have said, it's freakin dangerous.
Personally, I blame that behaviour on too MUCH early emphasis on (blargh) head-set, before the horse is truly comfy carrying you...
sorry I'm late, my blasted bleedin' internet price has increased by 600%, so I have to be a quick commenter, which I suck at;).

Shirley said...

Good reminder to all of us- I bet every one of us does that, I know I do!