Tuesday, May 31, 2016

5/30 Lesson + Horsey Products

I have no media from lesson, so the media in this post is from various days in the last week.

I worked from home from the barn last Wednesday (our barn is awesome and has excellent wifi). I could see Penn's stall from where I was sitting in the lounge, which enabled me to run away and snag a picture of him trying to sleep. BTW, doing my working remote day from the barn? Incredible. I took Penn for a spin at lunch and was home for dinner!

Hawk and I hauled to Trainer's house for lesson on Monday. Its been super hot here, and today was only slightly better than the weekend. (I know, 88 degrees is not hot to a lot of my southern readers, but hey, it's hot for us!)

Trainer and I caught up on the last horse show, Penn's abscess remnant (something I may eventually talk about on here, but I really don't have enough information right now- the only thing that matters is Penn is sound and comfortable), and issues that we need to work on. I mentioned that both judges nailed me for head tilt and a lack of balance in the canter- mostly in the corners where I either bounce him off the corner or bury him in it. I wanted to work on my halts, because he's generally fairly square, but I want to make those halts super square because of the extra halt in 1-3.

We went on a big group trail ride Friday afternoon. Penn is styling how to trail ride safely, and in style.
#don'tshootme #psofsweden

Another thing I've been playing with is a regular snaffle bridle with a flash. Trainer suggested it in our last lesson, but Penn immediately went lame and I never got to test it before our last show. I've been borrowing a regular noseband from BO since my only black one is in bad shape from a flash dragging it down Mikey's nose and is no longer usable with a flash. She suggested it because while the Micklem is great, nothing beats the steadiness of an actual cheek piece, and steadiness is something we've been lacking. I had mixed feelings about the regular noseband (it was a different feel to both of us), but he definitely went well in it, and he went REALLY well in it at lesson.

Close up of the pretty.

Trainer had me trot on, and then immediately pointed out that I'm shoving his haunches in. She had me play with a balance between how I use my legs (like keeping a soccer ball straight and even in front of me). Tracking left, she also had me post on the wrong diagonal to help my timing with the right hind. I found an interesting rhythm of bouncing him off the inside leg and supporting with the outside, and a lot of our issues cleared up (ie, head tilting, falling in the corners, unsteady steps). I spent some time just going around the ring and doing circles to figure out how to get Penn balanced properly without shoving Penn's hindquarters around.

Keeping that in mind, we did some lengthenings on the long wall, came back around and did some leg yields out on the next long wall. If Penn got fussy, I would sit the trot and kick him on using that same rhythm, just louder. The lengthenings are very small and basic because we're having this straightness issue, and he just isn't strong enough yet once he's straight. Bringing him back from the lengthening is easy- half halting through my core and shoulders, and he lifts right up and shortens his step. Very cool.

Trail ride ear shot!

We changed up the trot work to the left- leg yield into halt, trot off promptly, leg yield again immediately. This, ahem, pointed out how much I over use my left rein and made it click to me that if I bear down on it, Penn isn't going to let his left hind follow through into the halt. Penn did not like this exercise and tried to back out of the halt and threaten me when I asked him to move off. Eventually we got it a bit better, and it's something that will work for me when I'm alone and without a ground person. If I'm doing it wrong, he'll swing his butt and lose his straightness and not be able to trot off promptly. It's very clear when I'm wrong and when I'm right. I also ended up swapping to sit trot for most of this work- Penn just needed the extra help and it let me get after his fussy moments quicker.

We spent a long time working the trot. Penn was fabulous. Light, bouncy, through, and VERY steady in the bridle. I need to figure out how to make that steadiness happen at this weekend's recognized show without working the trot for a half hour plus. Keeping him balanced between the leg helped a lot, but I'll have to work the other trot work in too.

Nomming grass from the hay field.

As for the canter, each lead has it's own theory:

Canter right:
  • Start in trot on a circle, do haunches in on the circle.
  • Canter right lead, still in haunches in.
  • Transition to trot, still in haunches in.
  • Repeat until comfortable.
  • Take it large and repeat the transitions on the straight lines.
  • Eventually you want to be able to do 2-3 transitions to canter on one long wall.
  • The short side of the arena really screws us up. I have incredible difficulty getting him back properly after cantering the short side because I lose the left hind or I overdrive it to the inside instead of bending around the corner.

Canter left:
  • Leg yield right in trot from centerline to quarterline or quarterline to wall.
  • Straighten, canter left, continue leg yield right.
  • Transitioning out of the canter, leg yield into trot.
  • The left lead transitions are all about keeping Penn busy, active, and engaged.

This lesson mostly focused on the failures of the left hind and it's unwillingness to keep up, as well as my enabling it to happen.

Oh yea, I had her look at my saddle's fit because I've begun to suspect that it doesn't fit Penn anymore... and she agrees. So I'll be ordering another Stubben 1894 (I like this saddle a lot and the shape is still good for Penn) and selling mine... I believe mine is a 29cm tree, I'll order the 30cm... good thing I logged which tree is in it when I posted about it in November!

Alright, horsey product time!

Pretty. Yes? Please?

I'm shopping for a new snaffle bridle. My only black snaffle is in use as a double bridle via bradoon hanger, and while I don't need it to act as such, its noseband is not in good shape. Using a flash attachment (that I can't find), I managed to pull the top of the noseband down for long enough that it has trouble staying up on the nose where it should. The bridle is also too big for Penn. Cue shopping!

I'm looking at the Flexible Fit Equestrian bridles- I only want a headpiece, checks, and noseband which totals to $159 and change (plus $35 in shipping that I may be able to split with BO, plus some unknown amount from customs). I looked into buying just a noseband from elsewhere, like at Bit of Britain, and just that totals $90 before tax and shipping. And I'm just not excited about that noseband. If I'm going to spend over $100, I may as well (hopefully) love what I get!
When put together in the build a bridle, it's a bit less expensive than buying each piece on it's own. I'm not fond of the crank, and there is an alternative, but I don't like it as much. They're almost identical, but I can't put a finger on why I don't like it.

I'm currently going back and forth with reps from the company about the proper sizing (hint, I've measured Penn twice now), and I think their bridles run a little small when compared to American sized bridles (the company is in Australia).

Anyone have experience with these bridles?

Anyone have experience with this product, or this type of product? I found a super scary COTH chain that gave some horrifying allergic reactions to either this product, or ones like it. I think I'm going to return the spot treatment to Tractor Supply, I'm just too afraid to use it. The chain is old (from 2009) but even the packaging warned about allergic reactions, that may happen without warning, even after successfully using the product, and may increase in chance with continued use. I wanted it mostly for ticks, but I think I'll just have the vet give Penn a Lyme vaccine instead.


  1. Oh my does he look soooo fancy in that browband!! Sounds like an awesome lesson too with lots of meaty takeaways!!

  2. I am sooo jealous of your barn work day!