Monday, June 3, 2013

Finding Balance

New Jersey is being temperamental this week.  Memorial Day was freezing and windy, and now it's hot and muggy.  I think the Garden State needs some Regu-Mate.

The weather is leaving me feeling un-motivated, but I'm still plugging away.  Jack is learning how to be a riding horse, Spider is learning how to ignore the neighbor's dogs.  At the moment, Jack is the more successful of the two.

Jack is fairly relaxed and has good rhythm under saddle, which is a good start.  He now needs to learn to accept the contact and balance himself.  A racehorse is trained to take the bit and run.  He leans against the jockey's hands to support himself as he surges forward down the track.  A racehorse's trained response to contact is to lean against it and go faster.  I have to change that training in order to make him into a dressage horse.  I have to help him find his balance. But, I also have to remember that he is only 3 years old, and his life has changed dramatically in the last few months.

Because Jack is still a baby, I only work him 3-4 days a week.  He gets handled and groomed daily, but  I only put him to "work" a few times a week.  I put work in quotations because my work isn't really that physically hard for him. On the track he worked nearly every day and he worked hard.  Here, his job is just to learn the new, unfamiliar rules of dressage.  It's more of a mental workout, at this point.  But I have to find the right balance between keeping Jack physically fit and mentally stimulated, while not pushing him too hard and letting him be successful at his new tasks.

On the trails.

I also have to find balance in my own life.  Jack is a welcome addition to our farm, but he's still an addition.  Not only do I have to train a new horse, I have to take care of him, too!  Another horse means more poop to scoop, another stall to clean, and more feed bags and hay to load and unload.  My farm chores take longer now, and I have to manage my time wisely to get everything done.  

On a positive note, I have found myself much more balanced in the saddle!  Spider's bad side has always been the left.  He goes completely hollow and just leans into the inside going left.  Through years of riding him, and multiple physical issues of my own, I had also developed a propensity to lean badly to the left. But, left is Jack's good side, and that is making me straighter in the saddle.

I usually ride Jack first, because he's the less physically demanding of the two rides.  We start out going left and he carries himself well, I can sit straight on him.  Then we go right, and he tries to drop to the inside.  But, right is my strong side and I'm not used to being dropped to the right, so I correct him and I'm able to easily sit straight in the saddle for the whole ride.  Then I get on Spider and he tries to drop me off to the left.  Because I was just riding Jack, it feels weird to be shifted left.... so, I correct it.  And suddenly, I'm sitting straight in the saddle on Spider, too!  

I'm also finding some balance with the dog situation.  It's been a few weeks, and neither the dogs nor Spider are getting used to each other.  That means it's up to me to keep Spider's training sessions focused.  I can't coast anymore, I have to ride every step.  At first I was extremely annoyed by this, and the neighbor's kids probably learned some phrases that would make a sailor blush.   But, now I'm getting used to it.  I think it's making my riding better.  It's sort of like being at a show, all the time.... which will hopefully translate into our next actual show!


  1. The weather here has been something else this week! And what's with the on-off monsoons today?

  2. Jack sounds like he's a wonderful addition to your farm. It's great that he's helping you sit straighter in the saddle on him and Spider. Love your approach to training him. As for the dogs, well, seems like you've come to terms and found a way to use their disruptive behavior in a positive way. It's all good, except for this miserable weather.

  3. Our weather has capital S sucked too. I think we're returning to normal finally.

    Sounds like you are setting Jack up for success with your thoughtful training program. (Interesting that it's taking two horses to balance you out... hmmm)

  4. And now all we have to do is wait for the new hurricane to work its way up the coast.....*sigh*

    Riding two such different horses is going to improve your riding skills in leaps and bounds. I'm glad Jack is the easy ride so you can enjoy the training experience.

  5. Jack sounds like such a great addition, even if it does mean more work. So interesting how he's helping balance you and keep you straight.


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