Cavalletti’s And Forward Momentum

Colorado can’t decide if it wants to be warm and sunny or cool and rainy.  Luckily it usually gives me the morning to harass the beasts.

Yesterday we worked on using ground poles for motivation and to help with steering.

Two notes before continuing:

1.) I am currently in the process of changing how I handle contact on the reins. I really want my horses to be more responsive to my legs. Growing up in the english world I have learned to ride with way more hand/contact then is needed. So I’m retraining myself as well as my horse. I have a very very bad habit of trying to use the reins and end up over using the aids or pressure to try to do what I want creating a very backward way of riding. So for now I’m riding cash with as little contact as I can to break my bad habit of riding front to back and his bad habits of really leaning on the bit.

2.) I’m teaching Cash to listen to direction off my leg and seat aids and not my hands. Soooooo its not very pretty to watch. We are back to the wiggly stage for a while.  It’s very much a work in progress as he learns that legs on dosen’t just mean go and that I’m actually telling him to move left or right with just my legs and some slight weight adjustment. He’s getting it though and I think a few more sessions and we will really be on track! 😀

As I’ve mentioned before Cash tends to hate ground work a.k.a. Dressage. Since I’ve been working him in the arena for the last few days he’s gotten rather bored and today he started wanting to kinda shut down. When he gets tired or annoyed a lot of times he will just stop and refuse to move. While I’d rather have a horse that stops then runs and bucks, this trait gets really aggravating after a while.

To combat his issue of refusing to move we brought in ground poles. A simple set of 4 poles set up in a fan to get him thinking.  He didn’t want to move forward so I would ask for trot with gentle pressure from both my legs. When he didn’t respond I gave him a big bump with my heels and I pointed him at the poles.

It only took a few tries before he understood that using the smaller cue was much nicer and for going into the trot he got a reward of doing the poles. Once he transitioned from walk to trot with a light cue we ended it on a high note.

Poles to Cash are amazingly fun. He love cavalletti’s. I’m not sure if its the visual stimulation as well as having to actually pay attention to his feet or something else but he perks up immediately!

Cash is really an aggravating and yet amazing horse to work with. He causes me to really think outside the box, and constantly ask for help from my mom,  in order to keep him engaged and happy in work, especially arena work.  I have to constantly remind myself not to get frustrated with him when stuff just isn’t clicking with him and just rethink how to introduce what I’m asking. But once he understands what is expected he is the most amazing horse to ride!

So for now cavalletti’s will be used to keep him occupied and I think it may be the key to getting and keeping him engaged in arena work. There’s only so many circles he’ll let me do before he says he’s done. And being 1200 pounds there’s not much I can really do to move him if he doesn’t want to. By using that which he loves, it become his idea to move and not my demand….We may have a dressage future yet!! 😀  (maybe!!)


Here’s the end of the session.


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