Monday, March 18, 2013

Into Pressure?

Everything you learn about horses involves applying pressure in varying amounts in order to get a response.  And it works extremely well.

That is until you get a horse who seeks the pressure.  This is an issue we've had with Laredo since we got him.  It does not come up all the time, and it never happens on the ground, but there are many times under saddle where he will seek contact with the bit.  This hasn't been an issue in the hackamore until just the last few rides.  He is hunting for pressure in the way you hope a horse will hunt for the release.

This has been tough for me, and our rides have not been the best lately.  I know it is hard on Laredo, too.  He has to go back and forth between two riders.  Robin, due to her experience and working with Steen (and perhaps just who she is) is softer and quicker than I am.  There are so many things I'm still learning, and I have been extremely fortunate to learn on Bear these past few years.  He is very forgiving of my mistakes; he will get soft and responsive, but he won't clam up if I get too rough or start mistiming my releases.

Laredo is not quite as forgiving. Nor should he be, as he's only a three year old.  So Sunday we found ourselves having a pretty bad ride.  He was stiff, not very attentive, and constantly pushing his nose out and seeking pressure.  It was pretty frustrating.

Luckily I was able to get some more help from Robin.  She watched us for a while, and then we talked over what we were seeing.  We didn't have any great fixes, but it was abundantly clear that he was tuning me out every time he went for the end of the hackamore.  So we decided to walk and trot around, and if he nosed out, I would bring him into a bend. Left and right and left etc.  Then we'd go straight again and see how things were.

I probably spent almost 10 solid minutes of doing this.  We rarely got more than 20 meters of good, attentive riding before we'd have to go through some more bends.  But then all of a sudden he started listening again.  He was lighter, his eyes were more focused, and he was constantly flicking his ears in my direction.

I know this is not a serious fix.  It is more like putting a band aid on an open wound.  But it gives Laredo and I a start in working on our problems.  Hopefully with a few days off and some more focused goals on my part, we can get back into good riding territory.

There were some good notes for the day, though.  He was excellent with his head and ears for bridling, and he stood like a champ for the farrier.  And in every other aspect of our relationship he just keeps getting more comfortable.

Me and the guys waiting our turn for the farrier.

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