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View Full Version : What NOT being able to ride has taught me...



Invite
Aug. 25, 2009, 07:22 PM
Being told I could not ride was a gut wrenching experience. Since I was given the okay to ride, I have been able to on everything I learned while not being able to ride. I did a lot of lunging and long lining...before anyone jumps down my throat, I have been properly taught to long line.

I learned to watch the horses hind end rather then the front end. When the hind end gets going, the back comes up, the neck arches, and the horse goes on the bit.

I learned Roo can't use elastic side reins and needs the donut side reins or she will spend her time pulling to the max. Meanwhile, miss sensitive Emily will not go forward with the donuts. She gets behind the bit. She needs the softness of the elastic side reins.

I learned that Em overreacts to every command, even verbal, if I have a lunge whip. I have to use a driving whip.

Roo needs a lunge whip. She needs to actually be touched at times. No, I am not whipping my horse. I touch her with the lash. There is never a mark on her. I have to frequently crack the whip.

When I'm long lining, Emily needs the softest hand aids possible or she goes behind the bit immediately.

Roo never goes behind the bit. She just needs to be driven from behind.

The list goes on, but I have learned so much about my 2 girls by having to do lungeing and long lining only. While I am not happy to be disabled, I am happy to have been given the opportunity to learn so much about my horses. I have been able to look into their eyes and see whether they are calm, stressed, or whatever. In a sense, I was given a gift.

Have any of you had similar learning experiences?

DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho"
Aug. 25, 2009, 07:43 PM
ABSOLUTELY.

In fact, in my last lesson, Saturday (and I have said this to her so many times I can't count), I said to my trainer: "How on earth do people "get it" if they don't do ground work as well?

I have a fabulous trainer that teaches everyone groundwork - free lunging, in hand, long lining. The difference it has made in my understanding of how a horse should move, and how to help make that better - incalculable. The difference it has made in my own posture and movement? Extraordinary. I can free lunge my boy, and without voice cues (as has happened some times with a bronchial issue) I can adjust his shoulders simply by adjusting mine. I can half halt or transition with just my core. I can change stride lengths within the gait (well, on my better days!). I have learned how to "talk" to his hocks to have them articulate more. The in hand and long lining have helped me learn what it is to be between the aids.

I may have told this story before, but I'll repeat it here. Very first lesson with this trainer, she asked me, where is his inside hind (we were at the walk). And I looked at her like she was an idiot, and I said, "You know, it would be fabulous to be able to influence the movement of a specific hind leg, but really, that's for an upper level rider, not me." Then, it turned out, I didn't ride Ted for almost 4 months, I think - an abcess, then a stifle issue, nothing that was too much on its own but that did preclude riding. He was able to do ground work to help him move better so that was what we focused on. And when I finally did get back in the saddle, at one point, my trainer asked, "And where is his inside hind?" And without even thinking, I said, "Here...here...here..." And she replied, "And what are you doing?" And I said, "Ohhhh. I'm pressing down each time he lifts it up to bring it forward under him...BINGO!!!" I all but had to get off, I was absolutely stupified to know that I could feel that.

I can do so much preparation for under saddle work after the ground work. Sometimes I don't - sometimes all I do is ground work, if it's late, if we have a limited time frame because of heat/cold/me. But so much can be accomplished.

My eye has improved dramatically. These training tools are so conjoined now...I can't ever imagine not having them in my "toolbox."

Invite
Aug. 26, 2009, 05:52 PM
Maybe not many people do a lot of ground work. I feel it is one of the most fantastic things for my riding and for my horses' minds. I can learn so much about the individuality of each horse by watching. I set goals for the horses. Sometimes the goals are so simple that I would never have even put them into my riding regime. For example, Emily is a hot, spooky horse. I will spend an hour getting her to walk with her back up, paying attention to me rather than the bird or chipmunk. This mare has learned to look to me for direction rather then running. It has been time consuming, yet rewarding. Emily used to view the round pen as a mini speedway. She will finally walk, trot, and canter without dropping her back and galloping like a racehorse. We may have minor setbacks, but she always ends with a relaxed, 2 print over walk.

easyrider
Aug. 27, 2009, 12:51 AM
Thanks for sharing this. I love ground work. And the fact that horses are individuals.

LarkspurCO
Aug. 27, 2009, 01:24 AM
I enjoyed and related to your account of your learning experience with your two very different horses. I think of ground work/longeing as sort of a "fourth dimension" of riding, in that it fills in so many under-saddle cognitive gaps for me (note that I have no natural riding ability whatsoever).

With my 12-year-old experienced horse, the longe line lets me see exactly what is going on and helps me understand and visualize how to "fix" things with him under saddle. I try to include a weekly longe session in his routine, including trotting poles and lateral work. Recently when I fell out of this habit, I noticed a slight decline (weakening) in his performance.

I am also bringing along a four-year-old and cannot imaging NOT using the longe work and ground work along with everything else I do with her.

As for my highly neurotic, hypersensitive, red-headed OTTB, I learned how powerful my eyeballs really are -- just *look* at his hip and off he goes. Under saddle, just *think* about trotting and off he goes. No leg required. He likes leather Vienna reins (adjusted long for his very long neck).

Ambrey
Aug. 27, 2009, 01:27 AM
Thank you for the tip, OP! I just got a driving whip for my daughter to use with the pony, who usually doesn't need much prompting (the longe whip is very heavy for her 70 lb self to use!).

Invite
Aug. 27, 2009, 07:37 PM
Thank you for the tip, OP! I just got a driving whip for my daughter to use with the pony, who usually doesn't need much prompting (the longe whip is very heavy for her 70 lb self to use!).

Driving whips are awesome. I have major weakness and lack of use in one hand, so the driving whip makes life way easier. Unfortunately, my lazy redhead needs the big whip!!! My gelding is the funniest. I don't need a whip for him at all. He does everything on voice commands. I'll tell him "more" and he will give me a bigger walk or a bigger trot. I just wish he was that easy undersaddle!

Leena
Aug. 28, 2009, 12:28 AM
Well, I'd say you are learning to ride instead of drive and this is the most fabulous experience where you are no longer strong enough and you are obligated to your horses.

Through all your experiences, I have been there and still.

I wish I had enough fancy english writing to really express myself and give you some of my thoughts ; keep doing and especially experience the immense power your horses are giving you..let go with it and use your sensitivity to meet yourself's and then your horse's.

This is a fabulous post ! Thank you !

Equibrit
Aug. 28, 2009, 11:39 AM
Being told I could not ride was a gut wrenching experience. Since I was given the okay to ride, I have been able to on everything I learned while not being able to ride. I did a lot of lunging and long lining...before anyone jumps down my throat, I have been properly taught to long line.

I learned to watch the horses hind end rather then the front end. When the hind end gets going, the back comes up, the neck arches, and the horse goes on the bit.

I learned Roo can't use elastic side reins and needs the donut side reins or she will spend her time pulling to the max. Meanwhile, miss sensitive Emily will not go forward with the donuts. She gets behind the bit. She needs the softness of the elastic side reins.

I learned that Em overreacts to every command, even verbal, if I have a lunge whip. I have to use a driving whip.

Roo needs a lunge whip. She needs to actually be touched at times. No, I am not whipping my horse. I touch her with the lash. There is never a mark on her. I have to frequently crack the whip.

When I'm long lining, Emily needs the softest hand aids possible or she goes behind the bit immediately.

Roo never goes behind the bit. She just needs to be driven from behind.

The list goes on, but I have learned so much about my 2 girls by having to do lungeing and long lining only. While I am not happy to be disabled, I am happy to have been given the opportunity to learn so much about my horses. I have been able to look into their eyes and see whether they are calm, stressed, or whatever. In a sense, I was given a gift.

Have any of you had similar learning experiences?

So - when are you going to harness them ?

Mozart
Aug. 28, 2009, 02:38 PM
Good thread OP. I think the good pros can tell exactly how a horse is moving and can move while in the saddle but we mere mortals learn a lot about our horses by watching them from the ground and seeing how, for good or for bad, we can influence their movement.

Invite
Aug. 28, 2009, 05:54 PM
I now have the okay to ride. I'm not planning on harnessing the beasties. I am doing ground work to make my mares as rideable as possible. I am starting to ride my easiest horse and I will start on Roo and Emily after my trip to visit Whicker in VA.

alicen
Aug. 28, 2009, 07:31 PM
Having not ridden for 10 months and now on rationed in -the -saddle time, every moment spent on a horse is precious and used to the fullest of my ability.

Invite
Aug. 29, 2009, 05:33 PM
Having not ridden for 10 months and now on rationed in -the -saddle time, every moment spent on a horse is precious and used to the fullest of my ability.


How true that is. I am now able to laugh off things that used to frustrate me. My patience has increased exponentially. Without the pressure of huge expectations, I am more relaxed, my horses are more relaxed, and the results come faster.

My greatest accomplishment with long lining and lunging is that I have been able to get Emily to relax and lose her jigging. Em now has a huge walk. I know it will take time, but I will continue to do ground work with Emily to increase her confidence and have the relaxation to make its way into her trot and canter. I am dying to ride her again, but I want her to be confident and using herself properly.

I have been fortunate enough to learn that the roads to perfection, well maybe not actual perfection, are bumpy, long, and hard with many detours. Emily is a horse who will not let me take shortcuts. I cannot allow any holes in this horse's training. She truly needs a solidly built pyramid to move up the levels.

Daydream Believer
Aug. 29, 2009, 06:40 PM
I enjoyed your post and am glad that you are able to ride again. I, for other reasons, changed my training priorities a bit and am spending a lot more time on the ground...lunging and doing in hand work...both long and short rein. My friend got me started in it, really tweaked my interest in learning more and I will be spending the next several months (or however long it takes) starting several young talented horses I own (3 and 4 year olds) by investing the time on the ground before I get on their back. I am having a ball with it and I can see the payoff already in my older horse who I've started with. He is much more supple, more submissive and more balanced. He's truly ready to begin collection now. Exciting stuff.

I can recommend an outstanding book I recently picked up for anyone interested in pursuing the work in hand...either for starting a young horse or retraining an older one. "Horse Training In Hand, a Modern Guide to Working from the Ground" by Ellen Schuthof-Lesmeister and Kip Mistral. Lovely book with lots of pics and illustrations and a kind, non forceful approach in training. She discusses how to use side reins and how not to use them (excellent to see that so well covered) and and the progression of work from the lunge to double lunging, then long lining, to short rein and finally long rein work.

Invite
Aug. 29, 2009, 07:34 PM
I can recommend an outstanding book I recently picked up for anyone interested in pursuing the work in hand...either for starting a young horse or retraining an older one. "Horse Training In Hand, a Modern Guide to Working from the Ground" by Ellen Schuthof-Lesmeister and Kip Mistral. Lovely book with lots of pics and illustrations and a kind, non forceful approach in training. She discusses how to use side reins and how not to use them (excellent to see that so well covered) and and the progression of work from the lunge to double lunging, then long lining, to short rein and finally long rein work.


Hi Ho Hi Ho off to Amazon I go ;) Thank you so much for the book recommendation. I am a bookaholic. When I was more or less bedridden, I read so much and learned so much from classical type trainers. While I did not enjoy being stuck in my Bob-o-Pedic, I did learn a ton. That book sounds very informative and like it will be a good addition to my ever growing equine library!

DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho"
Aug. 29, 2009, 10:37 PM
Just a case in point: in our last lesson, we worked on true balance, straightness through bends, turns, changing reins. We were given an exercise where you ride in a 10-15m circle, then go halfway through the circle, change rein, do a circle on the other rein - all the way downs the sides of the arena. We also changed bend at the top of each circle. So I decided to test it in a different modality by trying to see if we could do that while long reining. Not totally successful, but in today's lesson, since we haven't done long reining for a while, we did that.
I am so thrilled - we did shoulders in and shoulders out at the walk and trot, halting within the movement and continuing, And I could see the change in the way my horse was able to articulate his joints, and I could even feel him lift his belly to round and carry his back.

To actually improve your horse's movement in the session...well that's the goal.

Not sure how many people get so hyped up about following behind their horse instead of riding....