Wednesday, February 1, 2012

When Things Go Wrong, Simplify

These little words of wisdom come from Dan John.  Dan is one of my favorite people to read for advice on working out and getting fitter.  The reason I love his stuff is because he breaks it down into very digestible chunks and also his advice applies just as directly to life, relationships, and work as it does exercise.  Buck talks about the same stuff.  Get better with horses, and you'll get better with life, he says.  For me I have to look at it from both angles.

Now, nothing has gone "wrong" really.  It is just the saying, but what haven't been working well for me in months are whirly-gigs.  Walking out with your horse, then halting the front end by disengaging the hind and then halting the hind end and bring the front end over.  If you do it right it looks like a very cool dance step and you go off walking in the same direction you were originally going.

In the middle of the fall I was able to do these quite regularly with Bear.  As with most things, we were better doing them to the left than the right (I'm still trying to figure out whose fault this imbalance is, and I kind of think we are both to blame).  But then things went wrong.  Bear would start whipping around rather than disengaging.  Then he started turning super fast, tight circles.  I couldn't figure out what was going on, so I more or less stopped doing them.

A few rides ago I started slowing down and breaking up the whole movement so that I could think about it.  I'd try a whirly-gig, and when that didn't work, I would just work on disengaging the hind end a few times.  And that would be it.  Another ride I would try a whirly-gig, again it wouldn't work so I would disengage the hind end, pet him for a good job, and then ask him to bring the front over.  And that was it.  I found ways to simplify the movement, then I slowly built things back up.  If we ran into a problem, I just went back to whatever step we were comfortable with.

Then yesterday we just started getting the whirly-gigs.  Now they weren't all pretty or ideal, but each time I asked for one we were able to get some clear steps in the right direction.  I didn't drill him on this, I just did one every 5 minutes or so and showed him how excited I was when we got it.

This would have been exciting enough, but really he whole ride was awesome.  I'm not sure if it was because the bails were low, the temperature was warm, Bear was tired from many rides in a row, or if things were just clicking because I was working on keeping them simple, but I'm inclined to think it was the latter.

And I did do a teeny bit of loping to ensure that we get some every ride.  And we had some big strides with the loping, too.  Robin and I were running together and I had a little bit of hard time keeping Bear off Steen's butt.  So I would apply some medium pressure to the reins to check his speed. 

He responded by giving me the biggest break at the poll I've ever seen or felt.  It was quite amazing.  His pace would slow a tad, but his body filled up with so much energy I thought we were going to leap past Steen.  I guess that is what true collection is all about.  It happened a few more times when we got close to them, but then I asked Robin to watch us after she was done loping and he again gave me the monster soft-feel even when we didn't have to worry about running into anything.

With so much great stuff happening in the ride we kept it short and sweet.  It was the kind of ride where it felt dangerous to push things, like that would make everything fall apart.  And it has left me with a lot of excitement to get back out there and keep practicing.  But today we're all going to get a day off.

1 comment:

  1. I never even noticed you getting close, so it couldn't have been that bad. :)

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