Sunday, January 23, 2011

Importance of Patience

What a pretty day yesterday ended up being! Normally our Saturdays are packed with lessons, but due to illnesses and students out of town, Heather and I found we had a relatively free afternoon. So we all saddled up and were able to put in some much needed saddle time. Faith went first, riding Chip and doing a long flat warm up, really concentrating on a good seat and clear cues...really making Chip listen right away. She finished up with doing a few practice jumps, then working over a small course. Chip was more excited today, but Faith took it in stride and had a really nice ride today. Chuck was suppose to take pictures of her coursing out in the field, but got distracted watching her and we figured we would put one up of her practicing in the arena over a small crossrail the other day. They make such a good team!
Afterwards Heather and I got our boys out and saddled up. I had Chuck take some pics and video, since I needed to see what he looked like from the ground so I knew what all I need to focus on during our workouts. I also just wanted some pictures of me and my boy together! I found myself during our ride together pleasantly surprised by Pilgrims willingness to move forward and starting to accept the contact of my hands. Patience has never been much of a virtue of mine, although with horses it's one of the most important things you must possess. All too often I have seen horses where there training has been rushed by people who felt the horse "should be able to perform this by now", instead of focusing on whether the horse is ready to perform a maneuver. With Pilgrim, I knew I had a challenge in front of me. Not only just in conformation (he has very classical stock QH conformation and build slightly downhill....perfect for western pleasure and hence why I bought him, but a curse in dressage), but I started Pilgrim's training in western pleasure. For those unfamiliar, I ask the horse to stretch down into the bit, but their reward is my release of contact. The horse is rode with little bit contact and is primarily ridden with your seat and legs. So while many of these things will benefit us in the dressage world, I needed to teach Pilgrim to accept the contact with the bit as a constant. From my research, I've found other QH people struggle with this very thing and often caution you not to get frustrated and try to rush or force it. So I've been keeping my contact light and soft and reminding myself every time he braces and is stiff that we are not failing, just taking our time. It appears that Pilgrim decided to remind me that if you have patience, it will pay off....even more so because I know I didn't force him. So, while he kept dying out at the canter today, I'm not complaining. For the first time I had a focused horse that was driving forward and soft and supple enough to actually start accepting contact! Was he still bracing at times? Absolutely! But it's very hard work once they start lifting their back, and we took lots of walk breaks, worked lots of stretching frame, and he got lots of treats when we were done! For the first time I feel like I might actually be doing something right and we may have a future in the sport!

Heather worked CJ's butt today! Isn't he good looking? CJ is short for Chocolate Jasper, he is a Sport Horse of Color born and bred in California out of Chocolate Freckles. He holds a special place in my heart as he babysat me through fine tuning my seat and aides and through my first dressage tests last year while Pilgrim was recovering from a bowed tendon. 
Heather working CJ
Heather and CJ

CJ and me at a show...He's a good teacher!
Heather coaching me

1 comment:

  1. Love the picture of Faith and also of you and CJ. It warms my heart that you have a hobby that others in your family enjoy.