Charging Isn’t Always Forward

Today’s Tip: The “big picture” should show your horse improving over time, but day-to-day improvement isn’t always going to happen. Tackle each day as a new day. Read on to see how today’s ride went.

Today I got my horse back. Normally that would sound like a phrase that led into a good story. Today, not so much.

So far this year Classy has been an improved version of his usual self. He was less spooky, more forward, and less heavy on the bit. Today the first two were still more or less true, but he was definitely heavy on the bit again. Not only does this mean leaning on it and not setting himself up as well as I’d like, but it also means that his balance is too far forward.

I don’t have a nice flat place to ride, so I ride in the most arena-like area in the pasture that I can. The whole thing slopes, so half the time we’re going downhill. Although this doesn’t help create consistency or a decent gait, it can help with some things. I suppose if I look at today optimistically, it means that the slope gave us something to work on in our upcoming rides. He simply didn’t balance going downhill. He’d pick up speed and be much harder to stop or slow down. Think about walking down a medium slope. A slight down slope you probably don’t really notice and a steep hill you probably pick your way down carefully. A medium slope, though, you’re likely to start walking and eventually pick up speed. You have to execute a fair amount of control to stop or slow down. That’s what this was like. To fix it, Classy needs to shift his balance to his back end, which should happen if he gets lighter on the bit. Well, technically the weight shift comes first, the the bit part is what is a little easier to notice.

This was a frustrating ride for me because he’s been doing so well. We’ll see what the next few rides bring. It’s really easy for me to want to say, “You didn’t do this last time!” and get mad at him for regressing. Every ride is different, though. Hopefully by the end of the summer he’ll be better. If not, then I seriously have to re-evaluate myself. Just because he regresses for one day, however, does not give me reason to panic.

I’ll keep you updated on what I hope will be improvement in our next ride!

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