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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

March 16, 2009

Schooling observations...

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 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


  1. You do know that that "floating" trot horses do out in the pasture, very extended and looks smooth from the ground---is very, very rough to ride!! So is the piaffe and passage, takes years for some dressage riders to learn to sit correctly. And that is basically "jigging or prancing" in non-dressage riders vocabularys, and what you call it when you don't want it!! So I'm just saying that to make you realize it may not be all you.

  2. Oh, and the race brain thing. It doesn't really matter WHY 3 or more horses makes her act that way, it just does. She sees more than one horse with her as a race, probably genetic, or maybe because she's rode so much by herself. I think the more you practice riding in a group with her, without it being a race. The more she will realize it's not.

    I think you can do Chicken Chase. Don't let me talk you out of it, please! I am just thinking of things. Only YOU know what's best for you and your horse. YOU make the call. I think you will be more disappointed if you don't do it, than if you do it and it's not great but everyone survived, ha ha!! And who knows you may even actual have a good ride, if your prepared for the worst and then it doesn't happen.

    Michelle Detmer

  3. I read over my comments and I sound like some kind of mean know-it-all. And I apologize. You are really doing a great job. Please, don't take my comments the wrong way. You are doing really, really well with your young Arab. You should be very pleased. Take every thing I say with a grain of salt. Because I don't know it all.

    Michelle Detmer