Archive for December, 2000

PostHeaderIcon Velvet – You Can’t Scream Outloud

Lately, I’ve been feeling really confident, riding Velvet.  During the last two group lessons, I did not touch the reins.  I steered her with my body and legs.  I also carry two carrot sticks.  These are 3′ long extensions of my arms.  They are fiberglass and lightweight.  If Velvet doesn’t pay attention to my eyes, belly button, legs, then the carrot sticks are used.  Carrot stick comes to the right side of the head means turn right and vice versa with left.  Crossed carrot sticks in front of the horses head means stop.  We’ve been practicing with carrot sticks for years.  Don’t try this at home; we are professional carrot stick users!

So, I’ve been pretty proud of Velvet and me.

Tonight at the group lesson, we had a beginning rider on a student horse, a new student riding an American Saddlebred for the 1st time in a group lesson, and an advanced student riding her fairly new horse…plus me.  We always have themes in the group lessons.  This month has been dubbed emotional fitness theme.

Jenny looked around at all of us and told us what we would be working on tonight.  She left me to last. “Hmmm, what should you and Velvet work on?” she said.  Feeling pretty darn cocky, I said, “There’s nothing that you can have me do that will make me nervous or scared.  We can do it all…except maybe ride bridleless.” “Hmmm,” Jenny said. One thing to learn about 
Jenny is that she pushes your emotional fitness, and she doesn’t let challenges pass her by. 

She had me ride Velvet on the wall just holding my carrot sticks.  She asked me to flat foot walk, stop and back without touching the reins. We did fine.

She walked over to where we were resting on the wall.  She reached up to Velvet’s head and took the bridle off Velvet’s head. Velvet was wearing her rope halter too.  Jenny took that off too, “It will look better without the halter. All you will see in front of you is that bare head.”  She looked at me and asked, “What have you been doing that you need the bridle?”

I really couldn’t think of any reason that I needed the bridle.  Of course, I was in a weakened shock state as I looked at that naked head up there.  I shook my head no and out quivered “nothing”.

“You can’t scream out loud,” she said and left us on the wall.  I thought to myself,” I wouldn’t want to scream out loud.  Velvet might get upset

Jenny was nice and let us walk for a while. Velvet responded to my weight shift to stop.  She responded nicely to my body and then legs to make turns. I started to relax. HAY, this isn’t too bad.  Ha, little did I know what the evening would really be like!

The stakes were upped.  I had to at least flat foot walk or fox trot around the arena.  We had to stop every now and then with the others, back up and then turn on the hindquarters and then forequarters in a 180.  I discovered that I needed to be at a stop to communicate this wishing to Velvet.

The stakes were upped again.  Jenny had placed two small jumps back-to-back…about 1 foot…at one shortened end of the arena.  Instead of going around on the wall, we had to cut the jump end short and go over those small jumps. Sometimes we hopped over them.  Other times we just hard trotted over them!  My carrot sticks became my counter balance weights.  We probably looked like a long armed flapping scarecrow.  We had to dodge the nervous American Saddlebred, the beginning student that had a hard time making the lesson horse trot and the advanced student who had to do a full circle with indirect rein every time the horse left the wall! I could feel my emotional fitness in my stomach.  My emotional fitness fluttered.

It was the other students’ turn to go over the jumps.  I got to return to the wall. But wait, Jenny upped my emotional fitness again. I had to canter.  We did darn well. Instead of dodging some of the other horses in the arena, I stopped.  I was proud of being able to stop.  Jenny kept stating that I could have missed that particular horse or horses by steering around them.  But, my emotional fitness was at the edge.  The fluttering left the stomach and came right up to my mouth.

Every time Jenny allowed us to stop and rest for a few minutes, I started getting misty-eyed, just thinking about riding my wonderful horse without anything on her head.  What a rush!

My next challenge was to canter on the wall, cut through the middle, drop to a trot and canter the other direction.  This is called drop-to-a-trot lead changes.  Do you think that Jenny had all those other horses stand out of the way somewhere?  I would have wished that. Instead, they were all over the arena concentrating on what Jenny was telling them.  They didn’t seem to realize that they were in mortal danger of being run over by a galloping horse with a nude head.  My emotional fitness left my body and sank into the arena dirt.

I survived. We got to rest, and we thought, stop for the night.  But out on the wall we went..  We continued on the wall mostly doing the flat foot walk, but upping every now and then to a fox trot.  Occasionally, we had to canter.  One time, Velvet got going pretty fast.  She was galloping and having a grand time.  Her brain had shifted to the emotional right side and she didn’t “hear” my seat praying for her to slow down.  She did listen to the carrot sticks and slowed right down into a flat foot walk.

During this evening, I didn’t often have to use the carrot sticks.  She paid attention to all the body aides…even while stopping, backing and turning.

I was so proud of and grateful to Velvet at the end of a very long hour.  This was an amazing, absolutely amazing feeling.  Jenny sezs we’ll being doing a lot more of it!!!

The final goal is to ride bareback and bridleless at walk, flat foot walk, canter, stop and back…only my body for communication!  The carrot sticks are a tool to help us get to our goal. Next step will be to use only the 6 foot rope around her neck.  YEE HAW!

PostHeaderIcon Velvet – reluctant pony horse

Pony Horse takes savvy

The ponied horse’s head is to be right at your knee. We are playing like a
foal is running beside his momma…that’s where the foal stays.

Another thing ponying is good for…if you have the SAVVY (which I don’t) is
for cross mares. Velvet had started snaking her head and occasionally
kicking out at other horses that she hates. At one point, she even attacked
a few horses when we were just standing around. So, as part of her
reeducation into politeness…Jenny started ponying her. When she became an evil witch, life wasn’t very nice for the ponied horse. After she improved a
bit, she got to be the riding horse and ponied the other horse. At the end,
Jenny took another evil mare and ponied them together. That improved the
disposition of both of them.

Don’t try this at home!!!

Velvet hasn’t attacked or kicked at anyone in a long time. She still hates
some other horses, but now just puts her ears back…and then I just ask her
to do whatever we are doing with more energy!

I remember the good old days when she was a cute, loving filly!

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