Sunday, June 13, 2010
What on earth to write about--oh, training of course!
Since I'm not riding at the moment--yes, I'm trying to be good--it is a little hard to know what to write about.
We'll resume groundwork in the next day or so, and try something interesting with Bar--a suggestion from Karen--if he cooperates. Then he gets a week off or so because Steve and I are off on an adventure up north to Oregon and Washington. That should keep me off the horses just long enough.
Teaching Bar to round up and drive with his hind end has been the goal for a long time. He could probably have used a better rider to help him with this, but he got me, so we're experimenting. Racehorses really don't learn how to do that much. Whether they should or not is, of course, subject for much debate.
But I'm really only concerned about teaching Bar to use his body the best way possible. Changing the centuries-old racing industry might be a little beyond the scope of this blog.
Now, I could (and have) used mechanical aids--tie-downs, martingales, different bits, no bit, and of course see-sawing on his mouth. (Sorry, buddy.) It's not that those things didn't work. He would eventually give to pressure and put his body in the right place--albeit for moments at a time while his unskilled rider tried to catch up--but does that mean he got it? That he made the connection that having his body in this position made him more powerful? Or was he just trying to do what I wanted without me communicating clearly why it is important?
I don't think any of it really set off the light bulb for him, and watching him heal from his latest injury has cemented for me that he is very in tune with his body. Not necessarily how to use it perfectly all the time, but he is paying attention to it.
Karen's suggestion is to figure-eight two lengths of something (no special equipment required, always a bonus) around his neck and his hind end, crossing and tying behind the withers, then work him. When she showed me how to do this with two lead ropes, he tucked his hind quarters underneath himself in the cross-ties. Her experience has been that it makes the horse pay better attention to their body and its position. My experience with Bar and performance boots says it may work well with him. "Those are my feet! They're attached to me! Wow!"
And it gives us something new to play with on the ground while I continue my convalescence. The other thing about Bar is while he likes routine, he doesn't like to be bored, so games are good. Yeah, yeah. Just like his mom.