Don’t Take the Basics for Granted

Today’s Tip: Never underestimate the importance of the basics, even on a horse that isn’t a youngster anymore. Read on to see how important simple balance exercises can be.

Ok, so if you haven’t noticed, I’ve TOTALLY abandoned the blog for most of the summer, most of the time when I’ve been riding! My life is insanely busy all the time and I just got out of the rhythm of making time for the blog. I’m going to try recommitting now!

What motivated me to come back was wanting to share with you my experiences of riding yesterday. As I was riding Evee, I was thinking, “There are a lot of people out there who would get really confused by this behavior and might not recognize it in their own horse.” Ok, I was really thinking, “What the ****! Where did this come from?!!!” but then I tried to rationalize a little more!

Evee has been pretty neglected all year. I started by getting Classy ready for the Three Phase Event and then I was trying to get Pretty ready for show season (and keep Classy ready too), so poor Evee got the short end of the stick. Yesterday was the second day in a week or so that I got her out and working. She doesn’t seem to like the bit I have in her – a double jointed loose-ring snaffle, I think it’s the mouthpiece she doesn’t like. She may also have behavior or teeth problems, though, so we’ll try a “tried and true” bit next and see if that’s the issue.

The real issue we had to work out, though, is kind of a recurring problem for her – balance. She’s tall – 16.2hh – and kinda gangly, even at 10 (? I should look that up…), so balance is always kinda difficult for her. We just rode in the paddock, so small, square, and relatively even footing. It does, however, slope downhill. Every time we started going downhill, she’d hurry up like she was picking up momentum and simply couldn’t stop herself. That made it hard to stop her because she wasn’t balanced and if I tried to turn her, she’d rush even faster to try to catch herself. We spent a lot of time stopping when she’d start to get off balance so she’d learn that was always possible and hopefully get her weight shifted back. We also did some backing to make sure she was comfortably on the bit. We did some circles too, but that works on BOTH flexibility and balance and I didn’t want to over complicate things for her simple mind!

By the end we were calmly dog-walking around and could speed up and kind of maintain a flat walk even downhill. There’s work to be done yet, and certainly a long way to go before she really balances herself, but I want to make sure to get this covered because I’m not a huge fan of holding up a horse with just my two little hands and one small steel bit! Just remember, basics are vital to our life with horses, don’t ever think you or your horse are above revisiting them!


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