Tuesday, July 8, 2008


An update on McKinna's riding progress, since that's mainly what this blog is about --

The other night I had a lesson where I explained to Ellen that I wanted to focus on taking things slowly and allowing McKinna to think about and understand what we were doing. As a result, in that lesson we really focused on the walk, getting her to relax and stretch out and bring her back up.

It was a really eye-opening lesson. I've been reading a lot of Mugwump's blog lately, thinking about how each horse really tells you what they need from you if you pay attention, whether they need soft gentle understanding or a swift kick in the sides. That night, McKinna was telling me that she was cranky (I really think it's because she was about to go into heat, as she's usually particularly resistant at that time. I wonder if she gets a little sore?), but she was going to try for me anyway. In return, I tried to cut her some slack. We worked on walk relaxation for awhile. When I could tell she was getting bored, we picked up a trot, trotted around for a little while, then came back to the walk and worked on leg yields and finished with a bit of shoulder-in.

I know it's standard practice to shake up your lesson and have changes of pace. But often when I ride or lesson, I drill until I get it right -- something I should not be doing. I am going to start trying to really pay attention to what McKinna needs, not just what I want to work on. I would love to work on the canter and have it be nice and beautiful and flowing, for example. But I know that in order to achieve that, I need to do some serious homework in walk and trot to get her relaxed and stretching down; this way she can achieve a balanced, smooth canter transition, and thus a balanced smooth canter.

Just something to think about. When you're riding, do you focus more on what the horse wants or what you want? There's also the opposite problem -- if your horse tends to rush around, I bet you're not using your leg very much because that's what the horse wants. If your horse has a beautiful canter but a jackhammer trot, I bet you spend more time in canter. I'm trying to find the right balance, and so far it's working.

Working on shoulder-in was really fun. I'll explain it in depth sometime, but basically it's walking on three tracks, with the shoulders slightly in but everything still straight. The inside hind is on one track, the inside fore and outside hind in line on another, and then the outside fore on the third. In any case, it's a fun new challenge, and McKinna is slowly but surely starting to understand.

Forward and onward!


rhinestone said...

Just wanted to tell you, I've really enjoyed reading your blog. We're very similar (our horses are even the same age) and I've been having a lot of the same soul-searching conversations with myself that you are.
Good luck in your journey, and keep on blogging!

McFawn said...

Great blog. I read your post about possibly breeding your mare and I found the perfect stallion. Google "Salute the Truth." He's a full TB with really good bloodlines for jumping and for long term SOUNDNESS (that would make Fugly happy)

But I also think its a good idea to juts find a young TB/Cross...anytime you buy a horse its almost like you're saving it from a less-enjoyable life it might have with someone else. It's good to be able to do that for a horse.

mugwump said...

I love to school, I'm a little bit of a drill freak. (Just ask my horses.)
But where I've had the most luck working with my transistions is out on the trail.
I'll walk, lope, walk, trot, lope stop, whatever suits me, as we go along.
I always set my horse up correctly for each transition, but I don't worry about the result, I just hold my cue until I get what I'm looking for. I just think forward, and fun.
Because we're out of the arena, my horse rarely gets cranky, and I don't either.:)
Eventually the transitions get better and better, and the gaits improve to.
I don't transition up or down until my horse is happily going in whatever gait I put them in.

ORSunshine said...


New reader here. Glad I found your blog and I love it! Btw, while not local exactly, I'm not too far from you either. Recently purchased a horse from your neck of the woods and you probably know him.

I really like the part you wrote about what you want vs. what the horse wants. My horse, a former OHSET horse, does not like to canter. He would happily trot all day long, will only canter if it's insisted on and quit the second he thinks he can get away with it. Once he gets here in a couple more weeks, he and I will have to figure it out. I don't totally accept that he's just lazy. What are your thoughts on the horse's perspective?

manymisadventures said...

rhinestone -- thanks! I find this blog has really, really helped me when thinking through some of my training issues. It's probably the process of writing it down.

mcfawn -- wow, he does look like an awesome horse! My mom checked him out last night and he looks pretty awesome. He will definitely go into the consideration for studs if we do end up breeding her.

mugs, I do like that idea. I've actually been thinking about doing something like that...we don't get out on trails often, but I was considering putting her western bridle on and just walk-trot-cantering around the outdoor arena and the property at large. For whatever reason, probably since it's used for 1. hacking 2. gaming and 3. cows, she always associates the western bit with just relaxing and doing her thing. I don't mess with her mouth, she doesn't mess with me -- if she goes to fast, I pick up the reins a little, and that's about it. Certainly a good lesson for my fussy english side.

orsunshine -- hmm, that's interesting. It's entirely possible that I would recognize him from OHSET, if he was in the South Valley district. I'm interested to hear how it goes with him, but I will definitely post exploring my feelings on paying attention to the horse's perspective.

ORSunshine said...

Oh, I'm pretty sure you know him. I believe you worked the elephant ear stand with his current "mom". So, that being said, I've purchased a qtr/Morgan cross named "Charlie Horse".

manymisadventures said...

My goodness, you are indeed from my neck of the woods!

Let me know how it goes with him, would you? I never interacted with him much but I remember a couple stories.

ORSunshine said...

Oh, do tell! I'll be taking Charlie away and moving him up to Keizer at the beginning of August. He'll essentially be retiring and teaching some little ones how to ride and I'll be puttering around on him. I am just curious if you have an opinion as to why he doesn't like to canter. Thoughts?

manymisadventures said...

To be honest I don't remember *that* much about him, except that he was fairly old (I believe?) and that he was a bit of a pain in the butt for a rank beginner, but that was at OHSET, not a small lesson situation.

He always just seemed like kind of a stiff horse, to me. Keep in mind I didn't see him at all this year, so I don't remember that much.

My first guess would be physical, and after that, just attitude from being allowed to get away with it.

But that's the thought process I go through with all horses ;) I always always always want to rule out the physical side of things first, which may mean having a chiropractor/massage therapist/vet/whatever come out and say "Oh, actually, your horse is perfectly fine" -- but then at least I KNOW, and I will not be unsure about asking them to work.

Does he canter in turnout? At liberty in the arena? On the longe?

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