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Help writing horse training and lessons?

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  • "heels down, toes up" poem

 
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    02-17-2014, 06:21 PM
  #1
Foal
Help writing horse training and lessons?

So, for those of you who didn't read my last post, I'm writing a story that focuses on a horse trainer who is giving lessons to two girls. Problem being, its been over a month since my last lesson and I can't really think of what my first lessons were like, and I've never trained a horse before! I'm not real happy with how the scenes turned out, but I can't think of how to fix them!

The horse scene:

“Time to get busy, eh?” He was a nice height, in her opinion- 15 and a half hands high, and had more substance than she normally saw on tennessee walkers. In fact, there was a lot about him she liked. From his hooves to his pasterns, to his shoulder slope. He was a good horse, she decided as she lead him to the mounting block, but she still wondered why someone would send her a gaited horse. He sidestepped as she tried to mount him- issue #1. Once she was mounted, she sent him on at a walk, and winced. His head was like an anvil on her hands- issue #2. She had tried to talk the owner out of using her- really, she had. There was at least one gaited horse trainer nearby, but the owner had ehard good things about her, and didn't want to go anywhere else. Liz would have been flattered if she wasn't so uncertain about her gaited horse skills. She wanted to see what his gait was like, and tried to cue the horse to go faster. He didn't, and she let out a frustrated sigh, grabbing her crop. One light tap was all it took, and she gasped as her arm was nearly wrenched out of the socket. She reflexively dropped the rein, letting him put his nose out as she painfully rattled around. She was good at sitting gaits, even headlong gallops, but this gait was rougher than it had a right being, and she quickly pulled him down to a walk. That should count as two issues- dead to leg, and horrible gait. That brought it up to four issues. She sighed, getting off of him. At least one of the issues required lunging, and she quickly had the stirrups run up and a halter on underneath his bridle.

She played him out until he was walking a 20 meter circle, and made him do a fast walk. She didn't cue a gait change, just asking for a faster and faster walk until he started to gait. She wouldn't be able to judge how smooth it was until she was on him, but it looked good enough to her, and that was what she was aiming for, so she stopped him and invited him in. He came in gladly, and she lead him to the mounting block. She was ready for the sidestep this time, and backed him up harshly when he did so, before positioning him properly again. It only took a few times to get him to stand still, and she unhooked the halter and lung rope, throwing them to the wayside. Once she was on, she took the time to make sure she was perfectly positioned before starting. She was going to have to deal with two problems at once- leg and gait. She asked for more speed, lightly, then harsher before popping him with the whip. He jumped forward, and he was into the rough not-a-gait again, and she was torn- on one hand, he had to learn to listen to leg, but on the other hand, she couldn't let him rattle her teeth out either. She filed that away for later, and decided to try a different way. She tried to get him onto a circle, but he didn't listen to her leg. She brought the whip behind her leg, and every time he ignored her nudge, she gave a smart tap. Soon, he was responding to her leg cues, and she suspected lightening them wouldn't be too hard. Unfortunately, she had to repeat it all to the right, and then she was ready to tackle the gaiting problem

The first lesson:

Natalie's body was moving with the horse with the kind of ease that was nigh impossible to teach, and Mystic seemed to be listening to her as they slowly walked a 20 meter circle. There was just one issue “Shorten your inside rein. She's trying to counter bend. Tickle the reins...there you go.” Mystic wasn't quite bracing against the bit as she reluctantly bent the proper way, but it wasn't up to her standards. Still, once she was going the correct way, her head lowered, and Natalie could feel her chewing the bit. “Okay, put your hands closer together, and keep them steady. When you start showing, you'll be wearing white gloves. You know how obvious movement is in white gloves?” Natalie nervously swallowed, and tensed her hands. “No, relax. Tense hands are shaky hands. You want to keep your elbows back, touching your sides, hands together.” Liz watched her as she adjusted, and kept the adjustments rather well “Now don't foret about your legs even though we're focussing on your hands. Heels down, toes up. Keep your leg relaxed and your toes just slightly tipped out.” Liz stopped, taking a sip of water. Predictably, the hands had almost gone back to normal, though her legs looked nice. That didn't bother her too much, though she reminded Natalie. It would take a few lessons for it to sink in, and that was okay with Liz. After a careful balance had been struck between legs and hands, Liz instructed her to trot. As Natalie asked, Liz continued speaking “Now don't let what we just fixed go out the window. Elbows back, hands together and low, heels down, toes out.” Liz listed, and watched as Natalie bounced along. Natalie had tensed, resisting the movement she had gone along with at the walk as she struggled to do all four things. Liz shook her head as the heel was jammed down. Her hands were correct though, and Liz gave her points for that even as she corrected the leg “Don't jam your heel down- it creates tenseness. It has to fall lower on its own. Relax your leg, and pull your toes up.” It sounded like the same thing to Natalie, but the effect it has on her leg was completely different- instead of sticking out, her legs seemed to almost curl around the horse. “And walk.” Liz mentioned, knowing Natalie wouldn't think of slowing down if Liz didn't tell her to. Mystic was glad for the break as well, dropping her head and gulping air with flared nostrils. “Go ahead and do a circle around me. Start at 20 meters and spiral in to...say, 5 meters?” Natalie thought that would put the horse and saddle too close to Liz, but she didn't think Liz would buy that excuse. So she started on the 20 meter, and slowly tilted her shoulders more, until Natalie could reach out and touch Liz if she had wanted to. Mystic was beyond fighting the bit now, and Liz suspected she would have no problems teaching her collection. Natalie on the other hand, was letting the reins flop about. “Take your reins in a little bit, and go ahead and spiral out.” Natalie timidly began bringing rein in, until Liz told her to stop “Those are still more slack than I normally keep, but you can feel her mouth much better now, can't you?” Natalie hesitated, before nodding. Liz checked her watch- only half an hour, but Mystic looked exhausted, and the trotting seemed to have taken most of Natalie's energy as well. Liz decided to end it, right after one last exercise “slowly let out your reins while half halting. You want to still feel her mouth, all the way until the buckles.” Natalie didn't do it perfectly, of course, and Mystic wasn't entirely on the bit, and so collapsed onto the forehand, but it was decent, and she was fine to end it there. Natalie winced as she dismounted, legs tired from all the trotting. Liz watched her in amusement, but didn't help her as she untacked Mystic. After all, every self-respecting horseman or woman should be able to take care of their animal.

General update: I hit 70,000 words! Unfortunately, I'm no where near done, and the book would be well over the recommended YA book limit of 74k words, so I'm splitting it in two, and putting a more effort into describing the farm life, and it's a more about humans than I meant for it to be, but it makes for a nice blend.
     

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