So my first thread got locked and I don't intend to make the moderators work overtime. No devious tricks up my sleeve this time. Legitimate critiques and points for improvement (or requests for clarification) are more than welcome, providing they can be backed up by evidence and experience.
Without further ado, the horribly-riding horse abuser's video from today:
Points to notice:
1. Soft hands with light, constant contact. Yes, I do have the bad habit of holding my hands too low and too close to my body when asking a horse to drop its head. This, however, for better or for worse, is how they were trained and what they respond to. But my hands are very forgiving and move with the horse's motion. When she fights, she is not reacting to pain but rather to an innate desire to go faster, due to her high-strung temperament and barrel training. Especially check how loose my reins are when asking her to stop or trot laterally (at the end of the first clip). This rein pressure, but the way, is the exact same "level of abuse" I was applying in the video from the other thread, only now riding with two hands instead of one.
2. I am stiff in the saddle, particularly at a lope. So is this mare. We play off of each other, with her own tension originating both from her natural movement and carriage and from my unfortunate and unintentional response from my own lower back pain. This is something I am trying to work on.
3. Therapeutic shoeing. I take her soundness extremely seriously, and have spent over $5000 just on veterinary bills for her left front leg over the past two years. She gets the best in farriery care, as well, all designed to maximize her comfort and minimize her chances of re-injuring herself.
4. Headset. No, it's certainly not going to win any awards in the subjective, controlled disciplines like dressage, western pleasure, or hunter under saddle. Yes, it's high, and yes, the horse has somewhat of a ewe neck. But despite the head raising and tossing, she holds it at a comfortable level for her and remains relatively soft in my hands. Function over form, in this case.
5. Equipment and its adjustment. The bit is a relatively mild Argentine snaffle with a loosely-adjusted curb. The tie-down is wrapped in SealTex rubber for cushioned padding and adjusted extremely loosely. Notice how even when she raises her head to its maximum level, she seldom if ever reacheds the end of the tie-down strap. I never ride her without both splint and bell boots.
6. Her attitude. Yes, she's a witchy, hormonal mare, both on the ground and under saddle. Yes, she wants to go go go. That's an unfortunate but expected side effect of being a competitive barrel horse, and so I cut her slack for her over-exuberance and don't expect a WP-like cadence out of her.
7. Backing up. She's somewhat stiff and unresponsive earlier in the video, so I posted a clip at the end to show that she can and will back up simply off of a subtle leg cue.
8. This is a typical day for us, unedited for the camera (with the exception of probably 20 minutes of walking and several minutes of trotting and cantering cut out for brevity). She's in neither an exceptional calm nor crazy mood, and I'm riding neither exceptionally well nor poorly. What you see is what you get.