Monday, May 8, 2017

The Next Two Rides

So I spent a lot of sleepless time pondering why Silk had been so tense and upset when I sat on him for the first time. Had I mistaken his personality? Were race horse habits to ingrained to change? Does my good kind horse Eliot make me feel like a better rider than I really am? All of the above?

I finally decided that I hadn't been particularly bright about choosing to get on him on a day of high winds. Perhaps a warm afternoon without gusting winds might work out a little better. I also decided some company in the arena might be a good idea as well.

So, on a warm afternoon, I tacked up Silk again and sent him to the arena with my husband Mike to do the ground work. Then I tacked up Eliot and took him to the arena as well. I lunged Eliot while Mike worked Silk. Mike worked with him until he was relaxed and attentive with his walk trot transitions. Finally, Mike looked at me and said “He's as ready as he is going to get.”

We traded horses, Mike held Eliot and I took Silk over to my mounting block. Once again, Silk stood beautifully for me to get on. I really like this about him. We stood quietly for a few minutes, then I put my leg on him and asked him to move off.

What a difference! He was quiet and pretty relaxed. The longer ground work and the better weather made a different horse out of him. We started walking in a large circle and he was calm and relaxed. I rode for about five minutes and got off. He was quiet throughout.

Eliot thought this plan was great. All he had to do was stand there. I think he likes being the horse that knows how to do everything.

We repeated this pattern on the next sunny and warm afternoon we had. Mike did the ground work with Silk and I brought Eliot down for moral support. This time I rode for about fifteen minutes and again he stayed calm. This longer ride allowed me to get a better feel for him. He did typical race horse things like rooting for the bit. Racehorses are trained to lean on the bit when they run. They can often feel insecure when they don't have the support of the bit and the will root around looking for it.

I try to ride this on a long rein and leg them forward to remind them to just keep walking and not worry about leaning on the bit. He played with the bit a fair amount while we rode so I am considering changing him into and egg butt snaffle and see if he likes that a bit better.

So I finish this part of the story with a note to self: For best results ride in warm calm weather. At least until he fully learns he is not a race horse anymore.

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