SuperKid is… well, Super!

May 21, 2009 at 7:34 am 2 comments

Among my dozens of nicknames for Klondike is “SuperKid,” and last night he was about as super as it can get 🙂

Before I go on, I want to apologize for not writing a lot lately.  But life has taken a funny turn, and I’ve been a little overwhelmed/stressed by it.  Hopefully soon I will be back on a more frequent basis- of course, I am moving and won’t have a computer for a little while, so who knows!

In any case, over the last week, I’ve been experiencing some frustration when riding Klondike.  “Riding” K is pretty easy, but “REALLY riding” is not, so much.  He’s gotten a bit particular about what he wants from his rider, and as we’ve graduated from “basic training” to “OK, let’s prepare for an actual event” I’ve found that things get much harder.  I can plunk around with the best of them, but when it comes to getting better quality gaits, and better balance, and an un-faked “frame”- oof.  Of course I’ve been talking about this stuff all along, but over the last week I’ve felt a bit frustrated about not being able to find the middle ground with Klon and his contact issues.

He obviously loves when my hands are super-steady and as soft as possible- which would be fine, but then when I need to half halt or change the pressure at all, he rebels.  So we’re in this weird place of trying to find the balance between “he has to learn to deal” and me getting softer and gentler and more subtle.  In addition to being mentally torturous, the actual physical part of riding – getting what’s in my head to transfer to my body parts – is not as simple as it sounds 🙂

So our last few rides have consisted of a few moments of brilliance in between stretches of mediocrity, with a few ugly moments thrown in to make sure we have all the bases covered.

Tuesday, after working in the ring, we went for a walk and then up the driveway with some friends, planning on jumping the jumps.  It wasn’t pretty for us- I wanted to trot, he wanted to canter.  When we both wanted to canter, he wanted to either go really fast, or like a sewing machine.  Attempts to straighten him out led to much head tossing, and a couple times we managed to fit about twenty strides in where there should have been two. 

So when I got on yesterday, I was feeling a little flustered.  We went to the big back ring, because there’s a nice little course set up back there and I wanted to work on some jumping.  For warmup, I took my hands out of the equation as much as possible, and just rested them on his neck so they wouldn’t move.  I let him deal with that, and mostly it went OK.  I just focused on pushing him forward and upwards with my leg, and ignored whatever was going on with his head.  Downward transitions are still not so great, but I tried to get them while using as little hand as possible, and just my seat and core, which made them marginally better.

Then we started working over jumps.  The day before I’d gotten some guidance with my horse, where we worked on staying slooow and steady to the jumps.  And straight, too (eek!).  So I worked with Klon over a single crossrail for a while- just walking up to it, trotting a few strides, and stopping in a straight (somewhat) line.  After a few repetitions, I switched to trotting the entire approach.  As we worked, he began to get much more consistent, and was landing in a better canter.  Stopping was sometimes not so graceful, but I was insistent about it and it got easier as we went, until he began anticipating coming back after the jump.

Once that happened, things got really cool- I started going to other jumps with the same thing in mind, just staying steady and straight (err, mostly…)  I was still trotting the jumps, but as he was anticipating coming back on the other side, his canter on landing was quite balanced, and (this is the big news) when I half halted or brought him back to the trot, the usual head flinging began to stop. 

And as we started cantering jumps, he started getting even more receptive to my half halts- I doubt it looked beautiful, but he was listening to them and not acting so insulted, which is a pretty big deal for me.  We finished by cantering a figure eight over a crossrail and a plank painted with a “Finding Nemo” theme- we looped around a couple times in each direction, and we really got to a place where he was coming back and listening, but also with a bigger better quality canter than we’ve sometimes had in the past. 

Most fun was we also did some work on lead changes.  He’s gotten them a few times before, never at my urging (and mostly while cantering on trail rides), so this was the first time I actually asked for them.  They were not perfect, and he may have lept through a few of them, but I was tickled pink, because with my crookedness/leaning issues, I tend to have a lot of trouble with lead changes and generally leave that to the professionals.

After giving him a giant hug and telling him he was wonderful, we went for a quick trail ride.  He’s so funny, because he’s not spooky in the least, and seems to love trail rides, but since our last solo jaunt through the woods involved galloping all over creation to get to our injured barn owner, he seemed to want to go- a lot.  But even when he’s clearly wanting to burst, he tries hard to listen, which sort of cracks me up.  It’s like he’s saying “pleeeeease?  please can we? pretty pleeeeeeeease?” Eventually, when I found some good footing, I gave him a cluck and we had a nice forward trot through the woods, and a little canter around one of the neighbor’s fields. 

I tried to keep ‘working’ while we were out there, correcting our straightness issues and not putting up with any head tossing, but it’s hard to not just surrender to the fun when you’re on Klondike 🙂

I do think I’m going to look around and try a different bit, just to see if that makes a difference.  Also related to tack, it appears my Wide tree saddle is too narrow for Mr. K, as it left an indentation on his back.  So I need to find something to borrow (and apparently, he needs to work harder or get a grazing muzzle…).


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

When Things Get Overwhelming… Yes, I’m Alive!

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jessicamorthole  |  May 21, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Not sure what type of bit you are using but I have a lot of success with the nathe type of bits. I have a nathe and a herm sprenger duo which is similar or try a plain happy mouth mullen. Sometimes these fussy type just want something that stays still in their mouth. Your journal is reading a lot like mine lately. Life is great when you are just putzing around having fun but gosh forbid you actually make them do work. Head flinging and anger arises. It all works out over time. Glad you had a great ride!

    • 2. carrotplease  |  May 21, 2009 at 9:20 am

      Right now he’s in a… um, I think it’s a Myler- comfort french link. The bit is curved, if that make sense. I was thinking of trying a happy mouth mullen, just to see what he thinks of that. I’ve tried him in a KK ultra too, not much difference.


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