Who Decides?

After doing well at the Cindy Ishoy clinic and the lunge lessons, Rogo's canter got 'off' again - he started trying to wheel and run off, refuse to canter, etc. I wish I had video of it because I think part of the reason is that I'm not keeping a good, consistent contact with the correct feel. It felt right to me, but Doug was watching and said I lifted my hands and got tense as it happened. I was riding on my own (not in a lesson), so Sue and Jane helped me get it back on track.
Sue had me do repeated walk / canter / walk transitions with only a few steps of each. That way he didn't have time to get strong and try to take off, and I had to really focus on my aids. He did this really well and it immediately fixed the running off problem. We were both too busy and focused to get in trouble!
In our next lesson we worked on equitation and aids, particularly in walk / trot transitions. I was popping out of the saddle when I asked for walk from sitting trot and we practiced and practiced until I learned to sit on my tail bone and keep my knees off during the transition (I'd squeeze with them when asking for walk and push myself out of the saddle). We practiced asking for trot with just a quick 'signal', not a continuous driving aid until I got it. Rogo caught on quickly and was soon doing beautiful transitions to trot with just a quick, light feel from my legs. I also needed to remember to maintain a good outside contact throughout the down transition. By the end of that exercise it felt great and I think looked a lot better.
Then we moved on to canter. All of the work on transitions and contact had us prepared, and although the contact wasn't as steady as it could have been, he did canter nicely and obediently and the previous problems were gone.
Next we had another lesson outside - his second for this year and first with the dressage ring set up. Any guesses on what he did? Yup - he tried repeatedly (and succeeded a couple of times) to run out of the dressage ring. I'm glad we weren't at a show! Sue told me to correct him every time he even started to feel strong. This seems self evident, but I hadn't been doing that. I only corrected him if he got really strong and / or tried to take off. She pointed out that he knows his stuff (the dressage exercises we work on) and he has to learn obedience. Hmmm. Now there's an idea. I'm not being sarcastic - I really hadn't fully processed this. Yes, he does do well at his current level of training when he's behaving - I hadn't quite processed this. And yes, he very much needs to learn obedience. He's getting stronger and more confident as his training progresses and his belief that he can decide where to go needs to be curbed. It's dangerous if left unchecked. So that's a priority goal for me for the next few months - I decide where we go, always.
I stayed all night in my trailer and we had another lesson again the next day. He was sooo good! He didn't even look outside the arena for the whole lesson and he went through all of his exercises and figures with flying colors. What a good boy. We were riding with Christine and Ziggy, so maybe he took his cue from them :)


Oak Creek Ranch said…
I'm working on the obedience thing too. In my last lesson I was told that I need to decide when and where we turn, not Winston. Especially at canter. I'm working on it. It's always something!
TeresaA said…
it's tricky how that can sneak in. I just discovered that I was letting Irish dictate how long we stand still before we either move off or I dismount. If it's too long he's been getting bratty about it. sigh. This was something I thought we conquered when he was 3-4. Oh well, stuff can creep back in anytime.
I agree with you and the trainers that it's up to us to decide for our horses. Dusty and I have a problem much like TeresaA, she doesn't like to stand for more than a second before taking off again. We're working on it. She's also been being naughty at the mounting block again. After I thought we had this discussion and had it all cleared up it's another thing to work on.

But that's how it is working with our horses...a never ending lesson.
Jenn said…
Your tone in tho update really got thru to me. I know I've felt this way before and it amazes me later when I realize how my thinking has gotten too focused. 'he must not ruin this transition' instead of ' he will do his part if i do mine' ... I don't know where I'm going with this but, I think u know just where to go with him!! Great work carol - get some pictures!
Carol said…
Thanks for telling me your stories too. The mounting block has become an issue for us again too, after having it solid sice not long after he was backed. He stands well for me to mount, but immediately wants to move off as soon as I'm in the saddle, before I have my stirrup. Trying to prevent him can sometimes lead to a little tantrum. I'm working on it.
Jenn - please come and visit soon! Either in Noel Shore or at Fraser's.
gfletcher342 said…
Horse dressage is advantageous for both the horse and the rider as dressage helps the horse learn self-carriage, relaxation and suppleness. But not all riders and horses are skilled enough to receive higher level of dressage. If you know your expectation you can choose the right horse that can help you achieve your target. It is required to analyze the strength and weakness of your prospective horse that may be necessary at some point of time.

Good luck with your horse!
Bella said…
Yes, I find that transitions are one of the most useful tools for both horse and rider. You learn to maintain a steady, quiet body and hands while maintaining (or attempting to maintain) contact with your horse, while your horse learns to listen to light aids and be in tune to you. Also, in the up transitions they learn to not be behind your driving aids, one of the current problems I'm working on with my horse. :)
Cut-N-Jump said…
Can I just say- THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! for posting about your lessons, what you work on and how...

I rode my mare this weekend and realized I am making one of the same mistakes with her. Asking her to go and just holding my legs on her until she does. Instead we worked on asking for one stride in walk, release one stride and ask again. Wasn't long before she was moving off pretty quickly into a trot with just one 'ask'.

Funny how you don't realize the things you do until reading about someone else doing it and have hose A-HA! moments.
Jan said…
Carol, It sounds like you gave Rogo a new aspect of leadership - good leadership - and the next day he knew that you were the leader and you asked for x, y and z, and he complied. I guess you could frame it in terms of "obediance" or in terms of your "leadership" and him accepting it. Either way, you both made great progress.

Love the insights on the canter transitions walk-canter-walk to curb his runaway behavior. Although my horse doesn't run away, I wonder if similar transitions would help him develop more control at the canter.