Saturday, July 31, 2010

15 Minutes

Spider got two days off, rather than the planned one. The hot, muggy weather returned, and it was supposed to storm, so I didn't ride Thursday. Of course, it didn't end up raining at all, but it was still hot. Friday was beautiful, however. So I spent the day weeding the garden. The weeds kicked my butt. I filled up my dump cart twice and there's still weeds out there. It's been a good year for weeds.

By the time evening rolled around I was pooped, but I still needed to do something with the horse. And since it hadn't rained, the arena footing was dry as a bone. When it gets too dry, it tends to be too loose. I didn't have the time or the energy to drag out the hose and water it. I decided to ride on it anyway, but keep it short and light. I'd work for 15 minutes, then call it a day.

15 minutes isn't much time, and I suppose it could be argued that it isn't even worth it. I don't agree with that mentality, though. Sometimes it's refreshing to have a short day. The horse gets to work, but not be worn out at the end. Which is nice for establishing that work isn't always hard in the horse's mind. If every time you get a horse out you work him into the ground, pretty soon he won't want to see you anymore. And if you only have 15 minutes, there's more incentive to make the work good. You don't have time to try again, it's got to be right the first time. For show horses that's actually pretty important. There are no "do-overs" in your test.

So, after a quick warm up on a loose rein, I asked Spider for a turn on the forehand in each direction. Then we did some walk serpentines. I started out with 20 meters, then gradually shortened the distance between changes of rein until we were doing them every 10 meters. From there I took him up the quarter line and did shoulder in in both directions. Then we did one 20 meter square in each direction, but rather than stopping him in the corner and asking for turn on the haunches, I asked for 1/4 of a walk pirouette at the corners. Throughout the walk work I concentrated on riding every step, keeping him balanced and marching forward with purpose.

I still had five minutes left, so I decided to work a bit on walk/trot transitions. I wanted him to make the upward transition smoothly and immediately and make the downward transition without slamming on the brakes and coming above the bit. To the right, the transitions were good, to the left....not so much. He's still pretty inconsistent with taking the right rein (an ongoing problem). We worked on it until it was acceptable (not good, but acceptable) and then called it a day. I got so caught up in fixing the transitions that I ended up riding for 20 minutes instead of 15. I tend to get carried away sometimes. Spider didn't mind, he's always a good sport. And he doesn't know how to tell time.

We're adding more rubber to the arena today, which should help keep the footing from getting loose when it's dry like this. Rubber is a magical footing additive. It provides support, shock absorbency, keeps dust down, helps prevent freezing in the winter and moisture loss in the heat and just generally makes any footing better. I love the stuff.


  1. I'm a big fan of 15 minutes - if you're too tired or not motivated, it's possible to get something, often something pretty good, done in 15 minutes. Dawn and I tend to work on scary object training with clicker when time is short or weather doesn't allow riding.

  2. I envy your rubber....gee, that sounds strange. *G*

    I often ride for only 20 minutes or sometimes even less. When the horses are in the back yard, it's no biggie. However, if you have a long drive to the barn, it's not a habit to cultivate, I fear.

    One trainer I had insisted a TB can get fit with that kind of riding. And years ago, a old riding master had me keep my horse on the bit in a clinic lesson for only about ten minutes at a time. "That's all the horse needs to do in competition," he said, "so why force him to go longer at home?" "On the bit" was different than working into the bridle, however, so we are talking being ridden in a competition frame here.

    Sounds good to me!

  3. I like the shorter time for training too. Many days we will only do 15-20 minutes. Yesterday with Blue it may have been 20 minutes. I don't like to overload their minds. So we work on one thing, get it right and end on a good note with a treat. It would work for me if I was a horse, only I would require a piece of chocolate not a stud muffin.


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