My last lesson on Saturday was a lunge lesson for the canter work. I’m still far from trusting myself to canter on my own but we did figure out that PJ’s bucking was because I was spurring him with my outside leg instead of asking nicely. I thought he wasn’t cantering off because my aids were too light. Nope. My leg aid was too strong; my seat aid is still wrong, but at least that’s one problem solved.
It was unusually warm today, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to do much with PJ. His trot work was wonderful but Maryann was having trouble. Ransom was being spooky and not moving forward. I suggested we switch horses. I thought getting on a different horse who was going nicely into contact would help her feel something different that she could translate to Ransom. I also wanted to figure out what Ransom was doing because we often ride together and I wanted to be able to give her suggestions that would help.
Well, Ransom is very rein lame. Once I got him off his front end and going forward, his lameness went away, which is how I knew it was a rein lameness. I was afraid it was a real lameness it was so pronounced. Just half-halting the traditional way didn’t work, but what did was sitting two beats, rising, sitting two beats. Then I sent him forward and the lameness went away and he felt great. I think something Maryann is doing with her seat is affecting his willingness to go forward because she always thinks she needs to kick him to go. I didn’t need to use my legs hardly at all. Maybe a little inside leg to turn, but just my seat to go forward. She also never has good connection with the bit. I think that’s why he spooks so much. I had no problems with him spooking even at the scary blue barrels. I’m not saying I am a great rider by any means, or that I’m better than Maryann, just that I’ve been working very hard on contact and going forward, and all of my hard work seems to have paid off. I was proud of myself that I could revert Ransom back to the extremely well trained horse that he is. I’ve never been able to fix a horse before.
Now for why I was brave. I cantered Ransom. I’m a huge chicken. Cantering a horse I really don’t know is outside my comfort zone. I wasn’t going to but Maryann suggested it and I felt I couldn’t really know what she went through everyday riding him unless I did. To the left we had no issues. To the right, I had trouble picking up the correct lead. I think it’s because he throws himself to the inside. I think I scared him a little trying to get him to balance and he bolted forward a little when he finally did pick up the correct lead. It was a scary feeling because he’s a big dude with a lot of power. After going around a circle, it felt much better, and I let him rest. I give Maryann a lot of credit for riding that canter, which if you didn’t have good contact could feel like you lost control. She’s much braver than I am for riding that every day, including those days when its windy, cold, and miserable.
Maryann and I then switched back. It didn’t take much to get PJ back on my aids. Maryann appreciated her horse a little better because she couldn’t believe how bouncy a trot PJ had. I think it did us both good to switch horses.
We ended our rides with a trip up the lane to visit the new barn and then go down the driveway a little. I glanced over at Maryann and couldn’t believe how good a contact she had with Ransom. I told her to solidify that feeling in her mind – relive it in her head as much as possible – so she could carry it over to the ring. I can’t wait to see us both ride next!