Friday, August 18, 2017


One of the things I have learned while riding Annie and attempting to turn her into a reliable and solid citizen, is that a lot of our training is unlocking certain movements, motions, or ideas.

It's kind of like walking down a hallway and coming to a door. The door is firmly shut and is locked. You can waste your time knocking on the door, or even try to kick the door down, but the fact remains that you can't force the door open.

And riding young horses - heck, even the seasoned horses - is a lot of unlocking their potential by making small increments of advancement in various other areas.

I think purple is her color.
Gaining accessibility.

This doesn't mean just twisting the door handle of the door and you are magically in. There are many components to the door, just as the horse has many components to it's body. Teaching a horse a subtle cue, like tipping their haunches slightly to the inside or moving their shoulder to the outside while keeping the remainder of their body straight, is a very difficult thing to do, especially on a baby horse that doesn't really understand.

So we take these ideas and start off simple.

Like teaching them to yield their haunches. I started off with teaching Annie to sidepass - I didn't want to isolate JUST her haunches yet. I just wanted to keep it simple - pressure on the girth or just behind the girth = move away without forward motion. So, we started off in-hand and against a fence to incorporate the sideways motion without forwards.

Once she understood sideways, I incorporated the lungeline and started asking her to tip her haunches to the outside of the circle (because I do not want to encourage her to tip her haunches towards me on the lunge). This isn't something I asked her to do at more than a walk - it isn't to make her travel differently or have her off balance. It's simply unlocking her body and showing her that each part is maneuverable on it's own. We also played with the shoulder and it's positioning while on the line.

Video evidence of Annie running into the trees, lol.

The baby-renvers we had been doing on the lunge and in hand was then transferred into the saddle. We'd walk straight and then I'd ask her to isolate that single portion of her body. It was difficult, as she wanted to drift and lead with her shoulders, but eventually we got a few good steps.

It was a short ride - I had initially lunged her and we worked on some things, namely the canter and her rhythm at the trot. I don't really like to lunge very much, but when limited on time and without a decent place to school, it felt like the right thing to do. She is starting to become so much more balanced at the trot and although we still had lead issues, I found that she has started to swap in the front (not the back tho) when she knows she's gotten the wrong one. Interesting tidbit.

After lunging I rode her out to cool her out and she was really good - I did some haunches in down the road, leg yielding, and even some trotting. She had a brief #babymoment when we came upon another horse - the family was leading their daughter on the horse and we were behind them. They turned down one of the streets and Annie was like, "BUT Y HE LEAVE US" and started to prance and jig. When we turned down the same street (because that was the route we were going anyways), she was really confused as to why this horse was not stopping for her, and even more confused when he turned down to where he lived and we kept going. She got over it within a milisecond though and was like, "Oh... I guess he's not with us." and just marched on. Good girl.

Good pony.
Yes, I know her one boot is on backwards - it must have
slipped and turned right around while she was lunging. 
As far as the rest of the cooling out ride, I was kind of shocked as to how accessible she had become. I felt like I could move her shoulders on their own (although, she is a baby and still offers up the wrong answer while searching for the right one) and it was interesting to see how it played into riding a faster gait, like the trot.

Now, it's important to understand that Annie doesn't do haunches in/out. But the idea of it is starting to eek through and that's what is important here. She is learning that each component of her body moves independently and with the rider's various aids, we can isolate that single section of her body and redirect it onto something else.


  1. Sounds like you are doing a great job at giving her a solid foundation!

  2. I love this post. Great metaphor and awesome exercises. I too believe in starting small and unlocking one little piece at a time, and then combining the pieces into a bigger picture. I love the way you broke this down :)

  3. I just need to say again how much I love Annie :) You're giving her such a good start!

  4. I like the purple on her too =-)

  5. Little by little gets you there before you know it!