Decided today to do schooling exercises both on the ground and under saddle. We walked and we trotted. In the confines of the oblong pen she would NOT canter. So we did walk trot, walk trot transitions for awhile. Then I tied a knot in my reins leaving a loop to hook over the saddle horn so that if I felt I need the reins I could get to them. Working from my seat we did trot, whoa transitions both directions. I used my leg to move her to the fence, and away from the fence. She is somewhat resentful of leg pressure and she is very "one sided". She moves away from pressure really well on the right, but is sluggish from the left. I've always used a verbal with her for whoa, seat, then rein as a last resort. The reins were not in use and I was satisfied with her whoa from both walk (very good) and trot (about three strides to get stopped). We also practiced flexion. That is the good stuff.
There is something just altogether wrong with our trot. Is she trotting? Yes, but it is very uncollected and feels like trying to balance a bucket of bolts. Now this could be her, but I watch her glide like a ghost out in the field, which tells me the likely culprit is me. The fact that I can't let go and balance means I have something out of kilter. I have a balance disorder which is reasonably under control with medication, mild to severe pain in my knees depending on leg position, and a disease that affects the muscles and connective tissue in my body. When I over-use my muscles I pay in a big way and I'm sure that comes out in my rather awkward riding style. My feeling is this all plays into her awful trot and if I improve, she will improve.
I've spent most of the day pondering the race brain thing. Why is the two horse scenerio okay with her, but three or more shoves her over the mental edge? That is what I need to unravel if I'm going to make it better. Nicole has ridden with me in both scenerios, so she knows what I'm saying. It is a problem that her experience with multiple horses has always been "training & conditioning" for endurance. That is where the rubber met the road and this issue started. Prior to that it was her not moving down the trail at all, googling around, and spooking literally at her own shadow. Riding in a group did get her going forward, but too forward.
Today I've given thought to ditching The Chicken Chase or any other rides for this season. But I've worked HARD for Chicken Chase. Since last spring I've logged a thousand hours getting this horse just started. We've come from a horse that would just as soon rear, strike, kick, or stomp your brain in the ground to where we are now. The journey for me has been tough. I've had a concussion, and have some kind of injury that hasn't healed since the Fall when I landed in a creek bed. But I continue on, and likely will continue on. I want to know that if I die, or am too feeble or poor to care for this horse that she will have a shot at a life somewhere else, with someone how thinks she's worth it, that is important to me.
My entry to The Chicken Chase has already gone in. We may not finish...it may turn out to be "more training". We might be overtime because I've had to turn her around and ride her backwards. Maybe we will do canter, walk transitions until she settles down. Maybe she will be nasty to the vet and that gets us pulled. We could meet the wrong end of a rock, she could have hydration problems, metabolic issues, she may be so emotional that she won't pulse down at all. But we are going to try, and God willing, he's watched over me before, just maybe we will FINISH. ~Endurance Granny
Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance
Favorite Links for training, gear, and memberships!
- National Association of Competitive Mounted Orienteering
- HOW TO CMO
- What is CMO?
- Old Dominion Endurance Rides
- Renegade Hoof Boots
- Riding vs. Racing a discussion with the Duck.
- Trumbull Mountain's INTRO TO ENDURANCE RIDING
- Principles of Conditioning
- Conditioning the endurance horse by SERA
- Short Article: Feeding & Training the Endurance Horse
- Feeding the Endurance Horse, Swedish Author
- Preventing Dehydration In the Endurance Horse, Ontario Competitive Trail Riding Association
- Jim Holland's fantastic training links here!
- South Eastern Distance Rider's Association