So, I am including the first video of my riding Draumsyn. This was the third or fourth ride on her and the first day I tried riding in just a halter. I had thought some of her issues were bit related. Her bridle was rather tight (as I'm told Icelandic's bridles are) and they have this tight little chin strap that holds their bottom lip rather tensely and "pinches" a bit. It's a regular snaffle, so the bit itself isn't that harsh. But she didn't like having it put on and whenever she saw the bridle coming, she dropped her head to the ground and swung it to the other side. Hmmm. Being that I have turned over a new leaf in horsemanship, I wanted to see if the bridle was part of her problem in being stubborn and antsy sometimes. My last ride she had also chewed on the bit quite a lot and was yawning and stretching her mouth. I have quiet hands normally, but when she got stubborn, I had get a little tougher and then we just fought. So, I screwed up my courage, trusted my instincts, and the owner and all her stories about this horse and got on with just a flat halter and a dog leash for reins! (my "hands-free" dog leash is built exactly like reins, with clips on both ends and is 12' long--so 6ft reins). D went beautifully for me most of the time that day. We did the outdoor arena, and she was a little nervous about the farm equipment parked next to it--I think? Here's the thing--I don't see well. I can tell there is equipment there. I can tell the closest one is a hay elevator (or whatever you call that very tall motorized ramp that sends the hay up to the second story LOL), but I have for the vast majority of the time, lost my fear of the "unknown" amorphous shapes that I encounter in the world, and I now trust that every stick and shadow I see is not a snake in my path. LOL So, all I'm saying is, she's not getting this "nervous" thing from my vision problems--because that doesn't scare me. So, she hates that one side of the arena. I walk her around in hand a little before riding. I show her the barrels sitting on the edge--let her touch and sniff them. I'm so proud of myself for helping this horse get calm, giving her what she needs to build her trust and faith in me. I'm feeling good. And I get on and she goes great--at least to the point that I would barely know I was riding her without a bit--she responds well, stops, turns, all that. Maybe I'm direct reining a bit wide on the turns without a bit (pulling the rein more straight out). But a couple times as we pass the exit gate, she stops and refuses to move. Just absolutely stuck. So I turn her and then turn her back and then the other side and back, and I experiment with more heel pressure. Until now, I had really not wanted to kick her at all if I didn't have to. I eventually started giving just small, soft kicks--not that it seemed to matter. Anyway, we got going again. I even had her tolting (although I'm not sure I had much to do with it LOL)--but I did "coax" her into the right gait somehow and I was having a blast! We pretty much sidepassed all the way down the far side of the arena every time, but she kept moving and we kept going and I felt like we were improving and I wasn't letting her "run the show", but I also wasn't being mean. "I will be firm but kind" as Julie Andrews sings in Sound of Music! And only a touch of fear in my ocassionally as she shied away at the corner a few times. I did not have a very confident seat yet and was riding with a very tense butt and every turn we took at more than a walk I slipped a bit and got nervous--but then righted myself and felt fine again. I wanted to tolt or trot or pace through those tall poles, but I didn't have the seat for that yet. Turns out, it only took about 2 more rides to find that seat and feel more secure.
Anyway, I was feeling proud, but also unconfident about letting anyone see this video, as I knew I was not riding very well and barely felt like I knew what I was doing. I'm much more used to neck reining a big Western style horse. But I've done a little English riding and studied it a lot in videos so I thought I could just learn as I go. I fooled D's owner anyway! LOL But I didn't want my Mom's cousins wife who is a big league horse trainer and Gran Prix dressage rider (and her daughter got a job at 18 working with a Royal family from Belgium or Denmark who had a place in Florida--training and riding their wildly expensive horses. So, horse training--and high level is in their genes. And I have them as FB friends and know the mom quite well and didn't want to "show off" my lack of riding prowess, no matter how personally proud I was--and happy. I have secretly watched that video dozens of times as a form of "pinching" myself to believe this was really me and I was so happy to have this horse! And even more secretly, I wanted to evaluate my riding skills and see if I could tell how I could improve, or if I "looked" ok. At this point, I was still feeling amazing and amazed by the whole thing. Oh, and I also looked fat in the video LOL! I am all leg and when I sit- I just look all squished up--plus I have my front pockets of the jacket stuffed with gloves, my hair piece, sunglasses, a bag of carros--etc. I was floating and apparently, all things that float or fly, have to hit the ground (and sometimes crash land) eventually.
Next ride, Fear finally found me and snuck up and bit me on the keister! More on that next time.
In the video, please forgive my smartphone illiterate husband's banter. LOL Oh, and for those that don't know (I didn't when I started leasing her) Icelandic horses don't "bend" well. They don't have a lot of flexible lateral movement, so you don't usually lunge them for instance and they would never be barrel racers or pole benders. D makes pretty wide turns around barrels and poles and stuff, but that is more anatomy than anything I think. I've learned to work it with it and minimize it, within her limits. She is also well voice trained, and that's how I move her between gaits for the most part. Hope this video link works! The last picture I call "Horses!" as a not to Elizabeth Tayler in National Velvet when she stepped onto the race grounds for the Grand National. I am SO happy to be in a horse barn regularly--the small is just so full of joy for me!