Thursday, November 3, 2011

a lesson

Our lesson today was really good! I learned a ton. . .but I think, most importantly, I learned that Shyloh already knows all this and completely messes with me.

I made a comment yesterday that I do not have to fully groom Shyloh before my lesson, I just want to run a brush over her and pick out her feet. This was because I scheduled the lesson right after work and I was not sure how much time I had to bring her in and groom. Well, I came to the barn and was greeted with this. . .
Muddy pony! Eyes are closed in pure pleasure of making me work!

Never before has Shy rolled outside in the mud! And it was still wet mud, yuck. It is clear that she heard the words "lesson", "work", "tomorrow", and "5:00" and she was trying her hardest to make things difficult for me. Or she has an episode on animal identity disorder and thought she was a pig.

So, I groomed Shy up as best as I could and tacked her up. Discovery number one, which explained the majority of Shy's behaviors on the long lines. . .the bit was backwards. Dumb me! I had a feeling it might have been, but I was not sure. I corrected that and got immediate results later in the lesson. Discovery number two was that Shy's brow band is too small. Not overly small, not painfully small, but snug. Apparently she has a freakishly weird shaped head. Her forehead is ginormous!  I guess I am in the market for a new brow band. 

Now that the bridle was corrected, we began to lunge. Shy did pretty good on the lunge line and we worked on her transitions. They are rough. Not smooth at all. Beth (she is the barn owner/lesson giver) wanted to try side reins to see how Shy did. We were not sure if Shy ever used them. Beth found some pony side reins (grr! she is NOT a pony!), and attached them. Shy was a bit apprehensive about what was going on, but it was mostly because she does not like Beth that much. It's true and Beth knows it. But it is mostly because she does not spend much time with her aside from feeding and turning her out. Discovery number three was that it appeared that Shy has used them before. She was fine with them being on her and responded very well to them. Beth kept the side reins very loose and explained to me the reasoning behind using them for Shyloh.

Discovery number four was that Shy has really adjusted to the routine of being inside at the barn. According to her time schedule, if she was brought in from outside, so she should be fed. Every time we went past the arena doors, Shyloh made an attempt to stop and stare out the door in longing for her dinner. We trotted her on the lunge line in both directions until she decided that she was not going to stop. She must learn to listen to me, even if she thinks she is hungry (though very clearly she is not!). 

Next up, I attached the long lines. I got a much better response now that the bit was correct. Discovery number five was that Shy is much more responsive when I am correctly positioned and when I keep my hands close together. And that was an accident! I had looked down to make sure my hands were the same distance on each long line and put my hands together and her response was amazing! We worked on turning and straight lines, then we did trotting. Again, Shyloh is very extreme in her transitions. Ask for a trot and she takes off. Ask her to stop and she puts on the brakes. So, when I asked for the trot and she took off, the bit was pulled and she stopped. So we worked on easing into the trot and back into the walk. 

By now, she just knew that she had hay waiting for her to eat  (in reality, Beth had not fed yet) and pretty much only had food and getting out of the arena on her mind. We must have attempted the trot past the arena doors a million times before she did it without stopping. Finally we did succeed, with the help of a driving crop. Just having it in my hand was enough for Shy. Then we ended on a good note.

Shyloh has too much attitude for a little girl! I call her the most compliant horse with the biggest attitude. Shy does what is asked of her, but she will sure let you know that she she not happy about it. An evil eye here, a tail swish there, a toss of the neck. It is quite funny! We have a bunch of things that we are going to work and a direction that we need to head. I am glad I took this lesson and I look forward to another in a few weeks to see how we have progressed!


  1. : ) Awesome first lesson; sounds like you had a lot of fun and even came away with some new things to work on!

    I'm sorry to do this, but I wanted to share an article on sidereins (pony and horse sized : P ). I'm a big believer in slow and steady, gadget-free training, and thought you might be curious on a second opinion...

  2. Sand,

    Thank you for sharing! That was very informative! Some of those gadgets are downright scary!

    Slow and steady is my motto! I knew when I added the part on the side reins, I would probably get some comments about them. So, in my defense, they are not something I would use without a lesson. The purpose of them yesterday was not to force Shyloh's head in position, for a correct bend, or for straightness. The reins were not tight at all. Mostly it was for her to stop tossing her head (as she does frequently to let us know what she is either feeling really good or she is pissed), so when I ride that she does not continue that behavior. We did take them off when we put on the long lines.

    I have no interest in dressage riding or competition, so I do not see myself continuing to use the side reins. But we do have a lot to work on before we are safe for the trail! If you have any other articles to share, I am always willing to learn :)

  3. I'm glad you had a successful lesson and it's great to give you some focus for the next few times you work with Shy.

  4. Is that redish hair on Shyloh, if that is i think thats different. Richard

  5. Richard, her mane was dyed pink for Halloween :)

  6. Camryn here:
    You go gurl with the mud rolling thing. You kinda missed your Pink mane though. I'm not much of a roller myself cept in my stall. So sorry you got roped into lessons. I'm so glad Mom had to quite mine to save for the saddle :)


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