He Tested Me, I Won. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 05-14-2015, 09:15 AM Thread Starter
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He Tested Me, I Won.

Yesterday was my 2nd lesson on Lucas, the paint gelding I fell in love with. Based on how well we did with my first lesson, my trainer let us go right into the arena without working on the lead first. We started off well in a walk. This boy loves to go and work, so the first few minutes is usually focused on getting him to relax a bit. After a few walking rounds, my trainer tells me to breathe, relax, adjust my positioning, and to trot when I was ready.

I made the mistake of squeezing with my legs and once he started trotting, continuing to squeeze. This boy is very sensitive to both leg and hands and immediately went into the canter. I haven't even reached the canter in my lessons yet! I could see the wide eyed look of worry on my trainers face as she quickly instructed me to slow him down and pull back. He would start to slow and then go again when I realized what I was doing wrong. I released the leg pressure and eased him back down to a trot, then a walk. I know he was confused at WHAT THE HECK I was telling him to do, but as soon as I realized, I was able to correct my self and get him down to the walk and then back into the slow trot I was asking for. I kept calm the entire time and just focused on what I needed to do to bring him back under control and listening to my trainers instruction. She was so impressed and said, "WOW! You did GREAT getting him back under control and making him do what you wanted him to do!" I didn't stop either, just kept going with him around the arena. She said most beginners freak out when something like that happens and want to stop. She also said that if I had freaked out and lost control, he would've tried it again to see how much he could get away with, but I knew it was my fault.

I can't explain why I feel completely at ease and such a bond with this horse. Even when he started to take off, I did not feel scared at all. When I'm on him, I can see that he's listening to me and paying attention to my signals so for the most part, I know that if he's not doing what I want, it's because I'm doing something wrong. My trainer said she loves working with me because I really listen and take everything in and she can see me trying really hard to focus on what she's taught me. After our lesson, she and I took the horses on a short trail ride through the property. It was AMAZING, and Lucas (my gelding) loved it. He was so at ease. My trainer said she's still amazed at how relaxed he gets with me. I tell her its cause we were meant to be.

I'll be turning 40 next year and I think my only sadness is that I waited so long to get back into riding. This is like therapy for my soul and I can't even explain how much I love it. Thanks for letting me share!
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post #2 of 6 Old 05-14-2015, 12:56 PM
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good job!
don't worry too much about starting "late". quite a few of us started late. I started at 41
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post #3 of 6 Old 05-14-2015, 02:40 PM
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I don't know if he tested you as much as he misunderstood you (from how you describe it!) but either way you seemed to have prevailed and got him on your page!

The nice thing about a 'misunderstanding' is that he likely just thought you wanted to go faster, he wasn't really being 'naughty' probably.. he was still likely balanced & consistent at his faster gait... and you can handle it so long as you do not get in your own head... which is all of our problems usually.

the biggest thing a lot of riders (me included) have issues with is relaxing. There's so much to think about we psych ourselves out. or if something happens we perceive as unexpected or dangerous, our instincts are to clench, grab, go into fetal position... Picture freaking out over something and then a friend grabbing you and starting to scream too. No good!

Staying calm and relaxed is key in any 'unexpected' situation... sitting up tall (aka not crouching forward) helps to stay balanced a lot in emergencies. You may bounce but so long as you are centered with your horse - you'll stay balanced and on. It's way easier said than done. but if you have that fluidity and ability to be brave and go with the flow (your horse) - you will probably be an excellent rider.

Re: any of my advice - Happy to give my two cents, but not an expert... just a girl who loves riding horses!
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post #4 of 6 Old 05-14-2015, 05:12 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Gossalyn View Post
I don't know if he tested you as much as he misunderstood you (from how you describe it!) but either way you seemed to have prevailed and got him on your page!

The nice thing about a 'misunderstanding' is that he likely just thought you wanted to go faster, he wasn't really being 'naughty' probably.. he was still likely balanced & consistent at his faster gait... and you can handle it so long as you do not get in your own head... which is all of our problems usually.

the biggest thing a lot of riders (me included) have issues with is relaxing. There's so much to think about we psych ourselves out. or if something happens we perceive as unexpected or dangerous, our instincts are to clench, grab, go into fetal position... Picture freaking out over something and then a friend grabbing you and starting to scream too. No good!

Staying calm and relaxed is key in any 'unexpected' situation... sitting up tall (aka not crouching forward) helps to stay balanced a lot in emergencies. You may bounce but so long as you are centered with your horse - you'll stay balanced and on. It's way easier said than done. but if you have that fluidity and ability to be brave and go with the flow (your horse) - you will probably be an excellent rider.
You're absolutely correct. HE wasn't really testing me, but I was being tested, and I think the reason I was able to handle it so well is because I knew he wasn't doing it to throw me off balance or gain control. He's an amazing horse to learn on because he's "safe" but he also helps build your skill because he knows so much. I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to learn from him!

In regards to this, I think my biggest issue so far is maintaining directional control while I'm posting in the trot. There's so many things going on, trying to post on the correct diagonal, leg positioning, heels down, head up, and then trying to apply both hand and leg pressure in the direction I want to go! How the heck do some do all that and make it look so easy??? Right now I get myself posting correctly, and then I find myself having to pause in the seat in order to correct the direction he's headed with leg pressure. I'm also having trouble keeping my hands in a quiet position while posting and trying to turn corners or stay on the rail? Any tips for a newbie?
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post #5 of 6 Old 05-14-2015, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Tihannah View Post
How the heck do some do all that and make it look so easy??? Right now I get myself posting correctly, and then I find myself having to pause in the seat in order to correct the direction he's headed with leg pressure. I'm also having trouble keeping my hands in a quiet position while posting and trying to turn corners or stay on the rail? Any tips for a newbie?
Some things that help me on my neverending "lets figure this trotting business out" (aka delay canter as long as possible)

First off, posting isn't about enthusiastically bouncing up and down. Just lightly getting barely pushed up and settling back down is better, and it keeps your hands steadier too. So try not to go up so much. (I mean, if you're anything like me, cuz my world just about exploded when I got told that)

Also the coolest thing about posting IMO is that the horse slows down if you post slower. I don't have to chant magic words or do some weird one pull on one rein and five pulls on another, or any other hocus pocus illuminati stuff, I just go up and down slower. (or down. cuz thinking up... refer to above paragraph)

If my hands are getting spastically all over the place, I either hold on to the saddle pad for a few beats, or I'll position my pinky against it so I can have a reference point for my hand to touch and stay steady on. Or I'll take a second to glare sternly at my hands until they stop moving.

DISCLAIMER This sounds kind of complicated and this might just screw you up: Use your leg to stay on the rail. When I ride around the ring, I push my inside heel a little further down and lift my outside heel a little bit up to keep my balance right. Like... if you stand up right now and both your feet are flat, and say your left foot would be towards the inside of the ring, stand on your left heel and your right toe. Then to get him back on the rail I kind of move my inside leg a little forward and press into his side while pushing that heel down.

I know they say look up, but I spend more time looking at my horse's neck, head, mouth, checking my hands, occasionally looking up to make sure we are still going the right way...

And of course the one thing that will magically fix every single riding issue you have ... ride as much as possible!
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post #6 of 6 Old 05-15-2015, 02:10 PM
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Lunge lessons can be really helpful for narrowing in on things. (where the horse is put on a lunge line and the instructor has them go in a circle and can control speed/direction etc.). Imagine not having to worry about your horse going forward or which direction he's in. you can even drop your reins and just worry about your posting and position! it takes a lot of the "million things" out of the equation. You can also learn balance w/o holding on to your reins (you'd be surprised how naked you feel w/o them and how much of a crunch they can be to you maintaining your balance!)

The very very first thing you have to do is get comfy posting the trot so that - even if it isn't perfect - you can do it w/o thinking. Because our brains can only focus on a few things at a time, so until you can do that - focus on that! Once you're feeling that is more second nature - you will find it much easier to divert your attention to hands, legs, head, back, ankles etc.

multi tasking is a LARGE part of riding particularly as you learn. I have been riding for almost 3 years several times a week and i still have about 10 things i need to work on, and only about 2 or so things i can really focus on at once. Think of it like those arcade games where the frog heads pop up and you have to keep hammering them down.

Keep in mind the very first aid of turning (IMO) is looking where you want to go. Sometimes, as you get more solid and depending on the horse - that's all you need to do to influence movement! Secondly I'd then use leg pressure.

Know that if you screw it up - the arena is a big oval, the horse knows he's going in a big oval (he's done it a zillion times) and while he might cut some corners - he's not going to get too off - you'll have lots of time to practice and get it right.

Saddle time is really the only thing that will make it seem all less overwhelming in the end.. that and letting your trainer tell you what to focus on. In lessons I focus on what my trainer is telling me to focus on. She helps me manage the multi-tasking and also knows what to prioritize.
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Re: any of my advice - Happy to give my two cents, but not an expert... just a girl who loves riding horses!
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