Friday, July 12, 2013

DON'T Be A Nag!

Not sure why my latest posts seem to be in the negative lately. I guess I'm learning a lot of things NOT to do! This one isn't a new one for me but just one that I have to occasionally remind myself about.
Ha ha! This really has nothing to do with my post but it made me chuckle!

It goes something like this. We are working really well. Loki is listening. We are trotting and I ask for the canter. The canter is actually pretty nice and relaxed and there is a semblance of rhythm and dare I say cadence(?) to his gait. I ask for the down transition which has been really sticky for us since the beginning and it takes Loki a little long to respond. When he does respond it's with a very quick and choppy trot. I half-halt... I half-halt again... and again... and... well you get the picture. This is what happened in one of our rides this week. Finally after being completely ignored for at least two 20meter circles I'm afraid I lost my temper a little bit and, well, I about yanked Loki's teeth out pulled him up really hard and gave him a big ol' growl. I don't like to lose my temper when riding but I have to admit it does happen on the rare occasion.

But you know what happened. The rest of the ride was amazing. We suddenly found our nice trot and were able to canter nicely again and the next time I asked for the down transition the response was, well, maybe not instantaneous but seriously a 70% improvement and the trot that followed was super nice as well. I wish I could have figured it out without losing my temper but lessen learned for me, at least.

So the point is DON'T BE A NAG! If your horse is blowing through your aids and ignoring you you've got to do something about it. Use the stronger aid instead of just repeating the gentle request over and over only to be ignored. (Hello!! That's rude!) Of course I don't recommend losing your temper to do this. It is much better to do it right away instead of waiting until you've lost your temper to find that stronger aid. Or, maybe, it is just asking in a different way but whatever it is do something different until you get the appropriate response!

I hope what I am saying makes sense. Of course you have to know your horse and what works for him/her and what doesn't. You should stay tactful as much as you can. And, it should go without saying that you should be sure that your horse actually understands what you are asking. In this instance Loki definitely knew what I was asking and he was either just being a bit lazy or had just zoned out but the bottom line is horses are just too darn big and strong to train them to ignore your aids which when you nag is exactly what you are doing. Hmmm, I wonder if that could have had anything to do with a little runaway incident we had a couple of weeks ago... Perhaps I need to remind myself of this one a little more often! It is much better to use a stronger aid once than to use a softer aid over and over and over... and over again. I think this is a very similar argument used when comparing a "harsher" bit versus a "softer" bit but that is an entirely different topic of which I'm not sure what my opinion is exactly!

Anyways, have a good weekend!


  1. Haha see, again, our horses are in the same school sometimes...! Wiz has been learning how to, um, pick up the canter, you know, from his HIND end instead of dragging himself into it with his front end. And by now, he gets it. He understands it. But.. OMG MOM ITS HARD! So, half the time, I still get a middle finger whenever I ask...

    And today I got just that. Instead of going straight into the canter, he went counter-bent, or started trotting super fast, or whatever. I admit, I lost my temper... In this case, however, losing my temper really just made things worse. I was so mad at him counter bending every time I asked for the canter (he was clearly just doing it to avoid staying on the aids) that I.. erm... lost my temper and basically over-bent him to the inside, not in a proper way, but in a flailing kicking way. Yeah, not proud!

    But I stopped myself, re-composed myself, spent 20 minutes at the walk re-organizing and re-inforcing my inside leg aid and that he needs to bend around it and into the outside rein- and then did some trot and canter transitions which were MUCH MUCH better- and which he listened. Granted, he did give me a buck the first time I asked, but that time I didn't get mad. I just reorganized, basically told him he had no choice, asked again, and got the proper canter transition and rewarded it with soft hands!

    But I was kind of thinking, too, on the lines of nagging... that he's still a baby, and I have this bad habit of him doing one thing great, so then I think he should be doing EVERYTHING great!! And that's another form of nagging. I should be happy when more and more moments are coming together, and not demand 100% perfection- he's only a baby, I must keep reminding myself that. It's so hard finding that fine line between wanting obedience and helping them grow, and being sympathetic to their inexperience!

    Ugh, I'm always writing novels. Nicely written post, though. But I agree with you, sometimes we need the quick stronger aid-even if its not pretty-but in the end it's more humane.

  2. That's a great point! I think you are right that when we expect perfection 100% of the time we are nagging especially with these babies and green horses. EVERYTHING with horses is a balancing act and finding the line between too much and too little. I think maybe this is one of the things I love about it, though, b/c when you do find that balance it's the best place in the world.

    It's kind of funny, while we are having very similar lessons and issues they are also quite different. Loki's upward transitions are "usually" quite good. It's his downward transitions that we really struggle with. Between the two of them they're perfect, though, haha!

    1. Well Wiz USE to have good upward transitions... until I started to ask him to stop cheating and do them correctly! Ha. But I've started asking with an inside leg for the canter, and that actually works 20,000x better... so, that's what we'll do :) And the downward, he's quick to respond to your request BUT he still likes to just drop his whole weight on his forehand, so that's something we'll have to address one day in the future... But I agree, once you find that balance, it's amazing! Even if it only lasts for a moment...