Thursday, June 13, 2013

That Fine Line

Loving this face everyday!
I'm sitting at home this morning trying to wait out the rain from the last thunderstorms that rolled though here. Luckily they weren't nearly as bad, for us, as had been predicted. I need to get back out to the barn to ride as I only have today and tomorrow before the show. I think Loki and I will be ready but I am also going to be riding the Friends of Ferdinand horse, Logan again and I have yet to ride him since I've been home. That should be interesting.

I had another good ride yesterday. It's amazing how many things you can know mentally but not realize you don't really know physically until you have those light bulb moments.

My latest light bulb moment has been about the fine line between soft hands and firm hands. What I mean is when you are asking a horse to accept the contact and pushing him up into it you have to give him a place to go. If your hands are too soft there is nowhere for the horse to go except straight through them. On the other end of the spectrum if you start trying to force the contact through hard, tight hands or the use of artificial aids you might get a horse that looks like he's in a good frame to uneducated eyes but in reality you will be far from the dressage ideal of a horse who has self-carriage. A horse that has been forced into a frame will never have the same expression and impulsion and pazazz of a horse that has been taught to not only have self-carriage but to even seek that contact on his or her own.

I know this is something most of us already know but it is something I'm really just learning to feel, physically. It's all because of the difference in my horse after the past two months of training. For the first time I can actually feel him starting to round and accept the contact even if it is only for a few mere seconds at a time. We still have so far to go but now that I am starting to know what it feels like I have something to aim for.

In the past I have often erred on the side of being too soft. I was so afraid of being that hard handed rider that I was just too soft and mushy in my contact. In some ways this can be just as irritating to a horse as over-bearing hands. I didn't realize how much muscle it can take to really get that contact especially at first. Loki does not have true self-carriage yet and still requires a lot of help from me. But I'm also learning that the trick is finding every single moment when I can soften and give to him as a reward for him moving correctly. I'm not sure if this makes as much sense written down as it does in my head, lol. But the bottom line is I think we are progressing!

I'm pretty happy with his weight right now. Still a little ribby but I think that is going to be pretty standard for him for a while yet.
In other news my husband got his first new car in over 14 years. I don't like to say people are entitled to anything or deserve this or that b/c they've done one thing or another but I am super happy that he is getting something nice and new to him. He has worked very hard especially over the past two years.


  1. It's so great to see a horse's head flex at the poll and round up, on their own. Athene is starting to show self-carriage now, bits and pieces, and my instructor said not to ask for any flex because Athene will tell us when she's ready. And now Athene is telling me she's ready. I only give Athene light contact and wait for Athene to flex because the exercises I ask her for make getting round feel good for her. Congrats on getting the "feel" you need.

  2. Love light bulb moments!

    Yay for hubby's new car!

  3. I've been working on the same thing with Wiz! I've been a 'soft hand' rider myself, and Erika keeps saying 'take hold of him!'. There's definitely that fine line of "firm" but still giving.

    Loki looks great and the car looks amazing :)

  4. Love lightbulb moments & congrats on the new car - looks spiffy! :)
    Best of luck for the weekend - sounds like you're going to have fun.