When horses aren’t ‘generous’

I had an accidental private dressage lesson on Tuesday (my riding partner was not feeling well) and had an opportunity to try out more lateral work with my trainer, Karen.

Because I have no recent photos- my newest ribbon frame!  A good way to display all those ribbons cluttering up my bedroom.

Because I have no recent photos- my newest ribbon frame! A good way to display all those ribbons cluttering up my bedroom.

I said I really hate practicing it on my own because it feels so miserable and I can’t get the ‘feel’ right (much like jumping gymnastics. SO. AWKWARD!). So, she said we’ll work on that today. Ha, and I said lateral work makes me feel crazy.

We set off on head-to-the-wall leg yields first off the left rein and man, it was so ugly. Oats was resistant, chomping on the bit, head up, then pulling, then trying to barge past my legs, and my hands. It was very uncomfortable and awkward feeling. I felt like I was trying to parallel park a dump truck! Forward…back up…halt..sideways! Halt…forward..back up..stop suddenly…toss head around…sideways!

GAH

It was very frustrating, and I was like, no wonder lateral work makes me feel so nuts! We then changed reins and worked on it on the right rein, and it was like I was riding an entirely different pony. A fairy pony! Light as a feather! Moved sideways like a dream! Oats moved over so quickly, he needed only the softest of corrections, he kept his head in the right place, he felt so soft, so light, and so good! It was like riding a hummingbird, haha.

I was like, mouth agape…This feels wayyy different.

So that begs the question- why the two-sided argument? Why was the first side (on the left rein) so miserable, and then the right, so good and effortless? We have a few theories, and want to test them out next lesson:

1. He had to learn what was being asked, and had it figured out by the change of rein.

2. He is naturally moving softer on the right rein, and being asked to move off my left leg is easier.

Or both?

He is a fairly clever pony, who figures out what you’re asking, and then immediately learns out to, as Karen put it, ‘economize’ on your demands…Meaning, he is smart, gets it, and then figures out a way to evade the activity.

So, lots to think about anyways. We then worked on canter, sitting the canter, getting the outside rein in on the action and ‘softening’ on the inside rein. Easier said than done, but it is making my life a lot easier when I don’t feel anxious and grabby with the inside rein–I now have the outside rein to grab with impunity! I can let the inside relax more!

I also got the BEST big trot with Oats, so big that I was having trouble posting to it! The best trot I have ever gotten with him- I am loving his new ‘go-getter’ attitude. That brings me to my title- some horses are naturally more ‘generous’ with your demands, they will acquiesce a little more naturally, and forgive your mistakes.

Oats, on the other hand, is not quite so forgiving when it comes to stuff like lateral work, or me freezing up in the show ring. He does ‘tune me out’ well when I screw up, but he’s not particularly generous when I’m not asking things correctly (see all my lateral work, ugh).

The good news, is that the better I ride, the better he gets! Our partnership is slowly growing, bit by grudging bit…

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