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DiDi - Whither goeth SHe?

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    02-08-2011, 04:50 AM
  #31
Started
Northern, DiDi is an ultra sensitive horse. She takes the slightest pressure to her mouth thru the reins or her flanks from the calves or in change of body posture on the saddle as an instruction to respond to.

So if the rider's hand has been jerked, the legs have moved inadvertently or the body has tilted slightly in the saddle then DiDi asks herself and the rider - "what was that you asked me to do?" And of course sometimes the 'aid' was merely a loss of position provoked by the forces of motion or gravity. If she gets too many 'false' aids, irritability sets in.

In the arena DiDi rides almost constantly 'on the bit' at all paces.
She will be mouthing the bit and foam eventually will be dripping from her jaw. So I've been told by Claire, that by fitting the flash then the bit is kept firmly in position to avoid false instructions. It also helps should she decide to play up.

From time to time, for reasons which are hard to fathom, she'll explode. On some mornings when I go to collect her, I can recognise that she is not in the mood. Something has upset her and the reason is not always just because of her hormones. For the rider there is no cure - you daren't use a crop or a fierce application of the hands - DiDi will never forget. The only counter for the rider is to try to recognise the triggers for an 'off' day and avoid them. DiDi is not trying to hurt the rider. She is just neurotic and highly strung.

Her diet is hay and grass and the lowest 'heating' value of feeds + a calmer of magnesium salt. Her mood is not food - unless it is a plant in the grass.

We are told that this is to be expected from sensitive, sparky, mares involved in dressage. Stallions can be easier and more consistent in their behaviour. Most geldings don't have the 'spark'

It is becoming apparent that when DiDi has a good day, a good rider can win, but when DiDi is not in the mood - a good rider might just as well get ready for humiliation. For many riders that is not acceptable and largely for this reason, DiDi is not for every rider, however competent they are.
She is like that other export from Ireland, mutton stew, an acquired taste.

After Sunday, we have already had two unbidden phone calls from the local competition saying how good she looked that day - it was a pity she disobeyed twice, if she hadn't she might have won - again.
     
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    02-08-2011, 08:49 AM
  #32
Green Broke
Barry, so enjoyed reading your latest post on "Lady" Didi's progress into the world of dressage. I think of her as royalty, so will address her as such.

Such a short time in this arena and she is already getting noticed. She , I'm sure, is not surprised, but feels it's about time, and only to be expected.

I enjoy reading your understanding of Lady Didi's temperament. It is so refreshing to hear instead of the typical "moody mare" characterization. What a victory it will be for both rider and horse when they are in sync and the inevitable win comes.

Many years ago I had the privilege of working with a little morgan filly who was so willing to please me. She even went through a fence to take her place beside me instead of the two year old I was leading. I always found her to be quick to learn, so it kept me on my toes to be correct at all times. Years later, after our short time together ended (life took me down another path), I was visiting a friend at the facility where she boarded her horses and as I walked by a stall a little mare came right to the door and whinnied to me. Something about her looked vaguely familiar, but I brushed it off. I later was told that that mare was "not honest". Asking what was meant by that, was told that she didn't always give you her all, or attention, and would often get temperamental and other times was spot on. When I finally found out that it was the same little mare I had worked with years ago, I was stunned to hear such descriptions of her character and attitude. I feel, that she , like your Didi, was very sensitive and very quick to learn and often got irritated with the handler if cues were not correct and pure. After a time, she would simply "write off" the handler as incompetent.

So , I am glad to hear you interpret in a sensitive and thoughtful way what so many others would simply put down as "moody mare" or "dishonest". I much prefer your take on it and it makes perfect sense to me.
     
    02-08-2011, 11:17 AM
  #33
Started
WKM, I found myself writing last week:

'You can teach a horse to remember but you can't erase a memory'.

B G
.

PS I hope you had an apple in your pocket for that little Welshie mare.
     
    02-08-2011, 11:54 AM
  #34
Weanling
I have often wondered if some race horses have an attitude like DiDi. The fans study a horse's lineage and training plan and jockey while failing to realize before they bet their money that the horse might not "feel like it" today. I am sure horses have different priorities and just because we think Derby day is a good day to run fast doesn't mean they see it the same way.
     
    02-08-2011, 12:24 PM
  #35
Started
[QUOTE=Barry Godden;920884]
So if the rider's hand has been jerked, the legs have moved inadvertently or the body has tilted slightly in the saddle then DiDi asks herself and the rider - "what was that you asked me to do?" Bless her heart! And of course sometimes the 'aid' was merely a loss of position provoked by the forces of motion or gravity. If she gets too many 'false' aids, irritability sets in. Well, yah, Barry, you can't be jerking & making meaningless, confusing "noise" on her. Same is true of innumerable horses.

From time to time, for reasons which are hard to fathom, she'll explode. Maybe she's sick to death of having her mouth strapped shut. A horse who periodically explodes is being bothered up to that point, & its "horsenality" dictates that it "holds it in" (the annoyed emotion) till it can't take it anymore, then explodes. She is just neurotic and highly strung. I think you've got a right-brain introvert. She's reacting to something tangible. It will become baggage if not discovered & fixed. when DiDi is not in the mood - a good rider might just as well get ready for humiliation. It was a pity she disobeyed twice, if she hadn't she might have won - again. If someone "gets with her", meaning gets the "feel" going with her, these episodes'd be history. I know of off-track thoroughbreds like this, other talented "incorrigibles" like this who came out of it with true horsemanship through feel. [/QUOTE]

The racetrack horses who spend their entire lives having bad days & refusing to perform have never been dealt with by "savvy" horsemen who was able to discover & fix what the problem was. The mouths being strapped shut was never the fix.
     
    02-08-2011, 01:47 PM
  #36
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by gottatrot    
I have often wondered if some race horses have an attitude like DiDi. The fans study a horse's lineage and training plan and jockey while failing to realize before they bet their money that the horse might not "feel like it" today. I am sure horses have different priorities and just because we think Derby day is a good day to run fast doesn't mean they see it the same way.
Dick Francis is famous now as a mystery writer, but his autobiography (http://www.amazon.com/Sport-Queens-Autobiography-Dick-Francis/dp/0330339028/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1297190626&sr=8-1) covers his days as a steeplechase jockey. He mentions several horses he rode that would race their hearts our one day, and just not care the next. He said the fans would blame the jockey, but the reality is that no jockey can do anything to make a horse run competitively. They can guide it, or encourage it, but the desire to win has to come from within the horse, and some horses aren't consistent in their desire.

My own mare will never win anything. Certainly not with me on her back! But there are days, many of them, where she'll try very hard to make our ride a success. And there are days like yesterday, where she technically did everything I asked of her, but with resentment and contempt coming from every pore. It really seems like sarcasm to me - "Why yes, I'm doing EXACTLY what you ask...isn't this FUN! What? YOU aren't having fun? Well I am...can't you feel how much fun I'm having, you idiot!"

It isn't feed, or hormones, it is attitude. And sometimes I can try again a couple of hours later, and she'll be all sunshine. Or not. She is usually obedient, but she is ALWAYS an independent mind.

I think that is why I'm enjoying the posts on Didi. My horse doesn't have great breeding, fine training or a competent rider, but she is a diva thru and thru. And it is nice to know that I'm not alone, and that even well bred and well trained horses can sometimes be...well, divas.
     
    02-08-2011, 03:56 PM
  #37
Started
Northern, your response gave rise to a discussion between me and Claire. It certainly caused me to sit and think about what I can do - if anything.

Racehorses are doing something which is natural for them. The herd races as an adrenaline soaked herd. In a race it is not necessarily the fastest runner that wins, it is the horse which on the day is first past the winning post.

When DiDi is put into a dressage arena, she is asked her to perform a set routine of movements, at a proscribed pace in an enthusiastic manner. The horse and rider are then judged by a human almost as a pair of dancers. A dressage test is essentially an exhibition of rider control. There is very little about dressage that is natural to a horse.

That DiDi performs at all is a clear statement of her wish to please her rider. However I wish I knew what it is DiDi gains from performing. My suspicion is that she is ‘strutting her stuff ‘in front of an audience of both humans and horses. Actually there was a stallion competing in last weeks test.

2/ "From time to time, for reasons which are hard to fathom, she'll explode. Maybe she's sick to death of having her mouth strapped shut."

Tightening the strap does not seem to worry her and neither does tightening the girth. I have discussed with Claire about the flash.
She gives three reasons which are essentially preventative measures for the test namely:
crossing the jaw,
opening the mouth wide,
and preventing the tongue from going over the bit.
The majority of British dressage riders do fit a flash band as standard.


3/ As a rider, I am sure Claire ‘gets with’ DiDi. But DiDi is aware that she is not Claire’s favourite horse. Claire’s own horse, Oliver a gelding, comes first and he is now at UK national level in dressage.
I am quite sure DiDi is aware that Oliver gets slightly favoured treatment.
and he is DiDi's competitor for attention from Claire. Therein might lay the seeds of jealousy in DiDi.

Personally I am always careful not to be seen by DiDi to go near Oliver,in case of provoking jealousy.


Of course, in this post I am speculating. But if I don't develop a theory then I can't check it out.

Why doesn't some bright spark in Microsoft come up with a gizmo which allows a horse to talk.

B G
     
    02-08-2011, 08:28 PM
  #38
Started
I know how prevalent strapping the mouth shut is in today's FEI dressage, but if you'll do a bit of online research, you'll find many true horsemen stating opposition to use of the flash along with their reasons for so being.

Crossing the jaw, opening the mouth wide, & getting the tongue over the bit are all variations on one thing: lack of acceptance of the bit. Didi needs to be taught to accept a simple snaffle.
     
    02-08-2011, 08:50 PM
  #39
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry Godden    
Why doesn't some bright spark in Microsoft come up with a gizmo which allows a horse to talk.

B G
Because, kind sir, most humans don't want to get the horse's message!
     
    02-09-2011, 02:51 AM
  #40
Weanling
BSMS, that's so interesting about the race horses. I will have to get that book.

[quote=Northern;921112]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry Godden    
So if the rider's hand has been jerked, the legs have moved inadvertently or the body has tilted slightly in the saddle then DiDi asks herself and the rider - "what was that you asked me to do?" Bless her heart! And of course sometimes the 'aid' was merely a loss of position provoked by the forces of motion or gravity. If she gets too many 'false' aids, irritability sets in. Well, yah, Barry, you can't be jerking & making meaningless, confusing "noise" on her. Same is true of innumerable horses.
Northern, I have read many of Barry's posts about DiDi and I think he truly understands his horse. Not many horses are lucky enough to have owners like him. The way you talk about horses, it almost sounds as if you think of them more as machines than as individual personalities. Do you feel like going to work every day? Do you ever feel "off" or tired or not yourself after a bad night's sleep? Why would a race horse or any trained horse for that matter feel like doing their job perfectly every day? Some horses, like some people, are more emotional and sensitive. They get keyed up or nervous in some situations, just like some people are good with traveling or being in crowds and some people aren't.
Perhaps you have never been around a truly sensitive horse. When a horse is very sensitive, they notice every accidental cue, even the light stepping into the outside stirrup or a brush with the calf. I have a horse who will respond to every single movement you make, and no rider is good enough to control every tiny movement of their body. If you glance to the right, my horse is thinking "maybe she wants me to turn right soon."
Training a horse is not like programming a computer. Horses have good days and bad days.
     

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