Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ride 52 - A Ride of Firsts (hint cantering!)

First of all, sorry no pictures.  I rode while my hubby was at work so we could go fishing when he got off.

I went out with the intention of doing our first cardio workout and nothing else.  The first workout consists of the tail pull, backing uphill, the shoulder rotation stretch, the pelvis tuck and intervals.  The book asks for cantering intervals, but we did trot.  It says to walk for ten minutes to warm up, which we did.  Then trot two minute, walk two minutes, repeat for twenty minutes.  I was counting in my head because I didn't have a stop watch, but we did the best we could.

The thing is when trotting in the pasture he can't trot a straight line or consistent tempo to save his life!!!  I think I got more of a workout than he did!  He sweated though and I'm pretty sure he got his heart rate up which is the point so I consider it a success.  In time the steering and tempo will get better.

I'm seriously considering starting him in a bit once I get his teeth done though because he tries to blow right through the bitless bridle when he doesn't want to go a certain direction.  That's probably my fault, but I'm not sure how to fix it so I might try a bit, get him really light and then go back to the bitless and see if that helps.  Any suggestions for bitless users on how to make him lighter to rein aids?  I don't want to jerk his face off and I hate hauling on one rein when he refuses to go one direction....

Anyway, that's not the point of this post.  We can work through that, especially when we start taking lessons.  At one point we were trotting toward the barn and he got really strong!  It felt like he was going to run away with me.  Then he broke into a canter!!!  I was shocked and a little freaked out, but he stopped when I asked (even though we were headed for the barn).  I walked around and trotted some more, thinking the whole time.

After twenty minutes of trotting and walking, I decided to try cantering him again, this time on my terms.  I wanted to feel it again and to see if he would try crow hopping if it wasn't his idea like he did last year when I tried cantering him the first time.  So I lined him up on a straight shot to the pasture gate where he likes to hang out, figuring if he did take off he wouldn't go far and on that path I could avoid tree limbs if he did take off.

I asked him to trot and then just kept clucking at him until he cantered and he did!!!!  It was only four or five strides, then he fell out of it on his own and stopped perfectly when I asked (before reaching the gate).  I was ecstatic!  He didn't try to crow hop at all and his canter was sooooooo smooth!

So of course I had to try it again... come on, who wouldn't?  I lined him up again and asked.  The cool thing is the transition is smooth as silk!!!  I'm sure it's all sorts of unorganized and downhill, but it feels so smooth you hardly notice he's transitioned.  Love it!  So this time his stifle gave out at one point in the middle of the canter.  I think it was partly due to a slick spot and partly due to his locking stifle.  I stopped him (which he did great, didn't have to use the gate as a brake like I was worried we would).

I decided to try it one more time to see if his stifle gave out again.  It didn't!  His fourth canter was perfect!  Remember it's only four or five strides each time.  So I called my mom at her house (same property, different house) and asked if she wanted to see.  She said yes, but that she was feeding my brother so it would be a few minutes... he can't be left alone when eating in case he chokes.  He has cerebral palsy.

Half an hour later she came out and she brought her camera because I told her a hawk she's been trying to get a picture of was out.  Sadly the hawk flew off, but since she had her camera anyway she took a video.  I cantered him twice (once to show her and then the second time she got the video).  So that was six short canters and he was perfect every single time!!

There's two other cool things to tell you before showing you the video.  While waiting on my mom I took him to the pond because Zep was getting a drink.  Chrome drank with me on his back!!!  That was a first and I was so happy with him.  I love that he will drink when he's thirsty.  It was early, but already kind of hot.  The other thing is I got bored walking around the pasture so I opened the gate from his back and rode into the front yard!!!  So we cantered for the first time (since that time last year was crow hopping it doesn't count), he drank out of the pond with a rider, I opened a gate from his back AND we rode for an hour for the first time!!!!!  Also he tried to roll with the saddle on for the first time.... but yeah that's not really an accomplishment haha!  He got it a bit dirty, but he didn't damage it or himself so it's all good.  The first ten minutes was walking, then we walked/trotted for twenty minutes, then we cantered four times, then we walked and stood around waiting on mom for half an hour, then we cantered two more times, so it wasn't a strenuous hour, but it was still an hour!  :D My boy is growing up!

So anyway here is the video.  I look UGLY because I was not expecting pictures/videos for the ride and my riding sucks lol.  The video isn't great quality because mom was using her older camera, but you can tell he's cantering so that's good enough for me.  :D

Go Chrome!  He's such a rock star!  I love him!

P.S. I was so excited that I forgot to do his other exercises, but I'll go do them as soon as I get this posted.  It shouldn't hurt to do them half an hour after exercise right??  Oh and mom did get a picture of the hawk!  Yay!


  1. You did it! It sounds just wonderful. (My computer wouldn't let me see the video.) What a great ride.

  2. Way to go Chrome (and you of course LOL)!

  3. You did it, congrats! Cantering the first time is always the most exciting thing to me. You can tell so much about how the horse really moves when they canter.

    As for the bit thing,I would definitely put him in a nice french or oval link full cheek or D-ring snaffle. The only difference is that the full cheek will give you greater steering control than the D-ring. However, the D-ring will probably be a more long term investment, as you won't need the full cheek for long and would move onto a D-ring or other bit after a while. Once he has steering and control down, then go back to the bitless if that is your desire.

  4. Well, from my lessons, listening to lessons at the GP dressage barn I work at etc, the horse doesn't follow his face anyways, what he follows is his shoulders - turn the shoulders = turn the horse. So start working on getting him to turn off of leg and seat aids more than the facial aids and I bet his turning will improve a LOT!

    Congrats on the cantering!

    Oh, and if you do want to try a bit, something with a french link, oval middle etc is the best for teaching steering!

  5. You two got a lot accomplished. I do those Clinton Anderson exercises of pulling the head around and holding the rein until the horse moves his nose in closer to his shoulder, and then releasing the rein. That gets him softer so that when you need to steer, you can. Also, it's easier to do the one-rein stop if you've been doing those flexing exercises. We like to do them both from the ground with a lead rope and halter, and from the saddle with the reins before heading out on trail rides. I call it "checking my steering."

    My horse trainer is a strong advocate for bits, but I'm starting to believe that we can probably train a horse to steer with any cues we desire. For a while there, Rock would turn in whatever direction I turned my head, but I had to train that out of him, because I wanted to be able to enjoy the scenery without walking into it.

  6. Renee I didn't even think about a full cheek helping with steering. That makes a lot of sense. I always just used D-ring on trained horses so that's all I have (or it might be a loose ring-I'll have to dig it out and check). I'll see if any of my friend's have one I can borrow.

    Stephanie that does make sense about the shoulders! I've been working on trying to use my leg, but I really need some lessons to refresh my memory on everything. It's been over seven years since I rode a dressage trained horse. My friend's horses that I've been riding are Western horses that neck rein. :)

    NuzMuz, I have been using the flexing to get him softer, but probably not as much as I should. He puts so much weight in the bitless bridle I'm afraid he's going to break it. That's why I'm thinking about trying a bit and when he learns not to brace against it I can switch back. I'll go back and do some refresher work on the flexing in the halter to remind him about giving. Thanks for reminding me! :D

    Also I totally forgot to tell you guys while we were waiting for my mom to come outside we were standing under a tree in the shade and Chrome eased his head over to the tree and pulled his bridle over one ear LOL!!!! I guess I need to tighten his throatlatch a little hehe. It was too funny. I was able to pull it back over his ear without getting off though. :)

    Thanks again guys! You have all been so helpful!

  7. Exciting! You and Chrome look great cantering :)


I appreciate all comments, advice and questions! Your comments are what makes blogging so worth it. I love to hear from my followers, so thanks for taking the time to share your comments. :)