I was going to give PJ the day off but I promised to let Barbara’s dogs out (she’s due back late today), which meant I had to go to the barn anyway, and yesterday’s ride really wasn’t. So, then I decided I would make it a without stirrups day to give him a break. I started out crossing my stirrups over the withers but I couldn’t get PJ to go. He was in slug mode. I took back my stirrups and he went into nut mode – even spooking at nothing out the window. Go figure.
Anyway… Every time I ride him I have a lot of problems with the right rein and maintaining contact. I decided to play around with that. I totally dropped the left rein and just held the right rein. Going to the right we had no problems (as usual) but going to the left he kept turning his head out and not relaxing into the contact. At the trot I couldn’t turn left.
I got frustrated at myself, not him, and tried holding myself into the saddle with the bucking strap to try to get my body to go into turn left position: shoulders turned in, weight a little on my left seat bone, not collapsing on my right. But the problem got worse and worse. By accident, I put more weight into my right stirrup and all of a sudden not only did he turn left, but he was in my right rein. I could do big turns and small turns no problem. It seems totally counter intuitive to me but since it worked, I’m not going to question it too much. Most likely, I was collapsing somewhere and stepping more into my right stirrup just straightened me, so that my normal turning aids could work.
I did almost all of the ride without any left rein. But what I found interesting is that PJ still had more foam on the left side. Any ideas on why that is? He felt great into the right rein (once I was in my right stirrup). He was relaxed and happy. Are some horses just like that? Was it still something I was doing? Will it just take some time for him to trust the contact on that side of his mouth? I think we’re both figuring things out as we go.