Yes, This Is What I Want

I had the best ride yesterday, maybe one of our best ever. The energy and forward were there, but also quick responsiveness up AND down, and no attempts to rush. He was right there, listening, responding, trying, trying, trying to please. Do horses blow when they are happy with themselves? I have to wonder, because it seemed Rogo knew he was doing really well (I kept telling him he was) and when he'd finish something he finds a little more difficult, like a leg yield or 15 m canter circle he'd blow and blow with what seemed like pride in his accomplishment. Maybe I'm putting a human emotion on a horse? Sure seemed he was happy with his performance too though. 
Since I started riding again (after only 2.5 weeks off!), my legs had been moving around terribly. Oh, it was awful. So discouraging. Maybe because of the big, big movement he's had since we're outside again, but I felt like it was my first time on a warm blood :( . Yesterday I took my stirrups up a notch. It felt awkward at first, but I stuck with it and guess what - my legs were much quieter. I better get back to the exercises I was doing in the saddle to lengthen and strengthen my legs. 
This all relates of course to strength and flexibility and balance - the lack of which I wrote about in my last post. I got lots of moral support on that one, and learned a lesson - lots of barn chores and riding several horses a day counter-act this. Both Shannon at A Work In Progress and Grey Horse Matters remarked that back when they did this riding a big warm blood was no problem :) so I've been cleaning stalls like crazy (but haven't yet ridden Dan since he came home - guess I better).
One more note I want to remember - I hadn't been feeding Rogo any hay before riding him since I came home. The timing just worked out that way. Then a few days ago I was getting ready slowly, so gave him a flake of hay. He was as slow and lacking energy as he was in the small indoor. Yesterday as an experiment I gave him just part of a flake. He was the best yet. He was a little too forward to focus on work with no hay when tacking up, too lethargic with a flake, and just right with a small amount of hay. Maybe a coincidence but I'm going to continue to experiment. I know I sure don't feel like working when I have  a full belly. We feed hay five times a day, in small quantities (a flake or two each), so they never get too much or go too long without, but maybe I need to be more careful with the timing related to riding.
Our lessons with Joan start a week from today - Yeah! I have a week to get into shape. I'm going to review my equitation, warm up and test riding goals and synthesize things for a spring program over-seen by Joan.


It sounds like you had a wonderful ride. Maybe he just had to settle in to his new surroundings or maybe it was the amount of hay before a lesson. Hard to figure out what makes them come out good one day and not so motivated on another. As a matter of fact I'm waiting for an hour or so before I ride Dusty this morning she was in a really sour mood before turnout, so I'm giving her a little turnout time first or I know we'll get nothing accomplished.

And I think our horses know when they are doing something well and in turn feel good about themselves. When I praise and rub their manes/necks Dusty and Blue will toss their heads and puff up a little more. You can tell they are proud of themselves.
I've always been told that horses blow when they're thinking about something or processing new information. It could be that Rogo was putting together what you wanted him to do under saddle. That certainly sounds like the case, here!

Thanks for the shout out. With your new exercise routine, don't forget to stretch! I've been riding every day plus getting the veggie garden ready and doing a ton of chores this week, but I feel like I got hit with a truck because I keep forgetting to stretch!
Jeni said…
Man I want to ride!!!! Hopefully soon things will be dry enough here.

Everything will come into place soon for you guys I'm sure.
Sounds like an excellent ride Carol!

Agree with GHM and Shannon about chores being helpful for riding fitness - you can practice engaging your core while you're doing them too.

I've always figured that when your horse starts blowing and snorting it's a sign of relaxation and contentment. They enjoy when we're in synch as much as we do!
P.S. Good on you for raising your stirrups! I did the same thing recently and the change was immediate and very beneficial. :)
Oak Creek Ranch said…
Yay!! Don't you just love rides like that? It makes it all worthwhile and gives you motivation to work consistently. I think blowing does signify happy relaxation. At least, it seems to for Jackson.
Amy said…
What a great ride!! I always feel like Steady blows after concentrating when he is trying very hard for me and then after he will blow. To me it seems like it is a, sigh of relief, like ahhhh I was a good boy and it feels gooooood. So I guess I would say prideful relaxation.
Achieve1dream said…
That's really interesting about the hay. Be sure to tell us if you figure anything else out with the experimenting. :) It sounds like Rogo was a dream. I can't wait to start riding again. I have a year to get back in shape, but boy do I need to get motivated lol. I can't believe it's already April almost. Have fun at your lesson!
Rising Rainbow said…
I've heard all kinds of different explanations for blowing and I'm not convinced about any of them so don't ask me. LOL

I think when they eat can definitely affect how they work. I was actually taught, way back when, that you didn't want to feed a horse a big meal before you rode because it would cause problems. Muscles bound up with sugar or some darn thing. I have pretty much gone by that and never had a problem
glad you had a good ride. i really admire your dedication. interesting about the hay -- i know i can't do anything physically demanding on a full stomach, but perhaps a bit of hay takes a hunger edge off and makes the horse more relaxed. i think the blowing is a good sign....seems like a response to feeling relaxed and confident.
Jan said…
Carol, What a wonderful ride! Sounds like Rogo had a great day also! Good idea to give some thought to the pre-ride hay - it may make a difference. I can feel your enthusiasm through your writing - good for you, you and your sweet Rogo are a terrific team. And you are so dedicated :). About the blowing, our BO told me the other day that sometimes blowing means the horse is interested in something. So I agree with you, that Rogo's blowing may have meant "I'm having fun with this, this is so interesting, I have such a good mom, I feel great!"
juliette said…
Carol - sorry I am so late to this post. I like the idea of smaller amounts of pre-ride hay. That totally makes sense. Thanks for your enthusiasm comment over at my blog. We share this crazy horse love that makes us thrilled for the next day and horse fun! I am excited for you to start your lessons with Joan. I hope they go well and your legs are fit and still - mine rarely are - at least they feel like they are moving way too much!

I hope you know that I am enjoying your blog even if I don't comment. Commenting recently has become tough for me - but your blog is the very best because you don't have the word verification turned on! I turned mine off way back when I discovered your blog and you had yours turned off. I love that. Often times I write a long comment on other blogs and it gets "eaten" by blogger when I am doing word verification. So thank you for making it easy!
Oh, and I wanted to say that Pie makes a blowing/sneezing sound when he is relaxing. Maybe Rogo is holding his breath, thinking hard, trying to do what you are asking, and then blows and releases when he has done it and you are telling him "well done".