Well today I learned a key fact with Cash…Less is more… especially when it comes to navigating turns with this boy. I think I’ve mentioned it several times in past posts where Cash likes to drop his shoulder and go the other way, well working with him today I think part of that may actually be my fault. (light bulb moment)
When working on circles I was always taught that you put inside leg on to bend the horse around the leg and outside leg back to keep him on the curve. Well either I’m really bad at this or it just doesn’t compute with Cash…I’m gonna say i’m defiantly a bit bad about it. I tend to like Buck Brannaman’s version of outside leg forward inside leg back to turn them. It just makes more sense to me on how to move the horses body, but again at anything other then a walk Cash and I seem to get discombobulated. He starts to go the opposite way I use my seat aids to tell him where to go, he trys to turn his neck in, I hold the outside rein and try to use my legs to keep bending him around the circle, and I can usually hold him there until we hit the rail and the rail turns him…usually… Its not pretty and it feels like I’m all over the place with him. This is BEYOND frustrating some days! BUT I do believe I have found the cure and it goes back to my above statement.
Sometimes less is more! On a whim I started trying different positions and leg aids in the saddle to get the response I wanted. It took a few minuets of sitting trot, then posting trot, then two point all with various uses of the legs in different positions until something finally worked.
Which one was it you ask? …..No leg and just slight rein aids! I must ride him with a “Feel” as Buck likes to say. He’s very responsive even to my subtle aids when I focus on thinking about what I want and not trying to use all my aids to get it. I mostly just have to sit there think straight, think perfect circle, just THINK about what I want and it’s amazing how close we get to it. I may have to step it with just a tad bit of rein pressure or a nudge with my foot but most of the times thats all it takes.
I swear some days (ok most days) I over think things. I’ve read so many books, and had a few instructors that were always like “half halt, outside leg, inside leg, half halt, sit back, use your seat. HALF HALT, inside leg….” (you get the picture) that sometimes I try to do to much.
Cash knows how to go around a circle. Cash is pretty damn good about figuring out exactly where to go without me having to tell him where to put his hooves…in fact he hates when I try to micromanage him….and this is where we always butt heads in the arena….I try to treat him like a submissive dressage horse when he is anything but that. He’s an Eventer and there isn’t much of a submissive bone in his body. We are partners for sure but he defiantly lets me know just how much control I really have.
I dunno why but I try way to hard in the arena to be perfect and to be that “master of dressage” when in reality all I want to do is go galavanting around the pasture jumping jumps. I must always remind myself that just ride like you do on the trail/cross country. Find a good rhythm, sit balanced and be as quiet as needed and only get loud enough to be heard to adjust our course or stride then go back to being quiet.
It’s really simple and yet something I always struggle with in the arena….its probably why Cash hates the arena (sorry buddy) but i’m working on it!
And as an added bonus Cash even managed to hold himself together when three other horses entered a ring and started a lesson with young kids on the opposite side of the arena. Had he been 3 we would have lost steering and madly careened around the arena sending children flying left and right….so I’m very very proud of him! The only thing that scared him was the kids grandfather who just happened to be reading a news paper on the scary swinging bench! He took a flying leap and a snort but I didn’t fall off and he figured out it wouldn’t eat him and we continued our ride! We’ll be ready for this crazy show rings in no time!!!
Now if I can just get it ingrained to not over think my riding in the arena I’ll be doing great!