First, Mr. No Heel TB now wears a pad on his RF.
While I noticed some minor difference in his gait at the trot, he stayed sound on his RF and I don’t think the heel pad will cause any issues. I mean, I hope not.
On to my discovery … I realized this week something about my riding that was specifically causing an issue for me & Eli and until I realized/paid attention to what my body was doing, this issue perplexed me and solutions eluded me.
Whenever I close my leg at the walk in preparation for an upward transition, I also lock my hips so my seat stops moving with the motion of the horse. Sounds like part of a half-halt almost, right? Eli took it as that, and from the walk would slow down or stop. HE was reacting correctly to my aids that I didn’t know I was giving. And here I was thinking he was sucking back off my leg about the upward transition from walk to trot, which would be wholly uncharacteristic behavior for him, except he was doing it every time.
And the fault lies with me! Yet again, the project horse I have trained/undone prior training of is a better student than I am a teacher. He’s consistent here, I’m not.
So Tuesday evening, I actively tried to keep my hips moving with Eli’s motion while closing my leg and exactly what should happen happened. He picked up the trot when I closed my leg but kept using my seat (not driving, just following). I owe Eli an apology for only just now figuring this out after about 4-5 months of not understanding why he wasn’t moving off my leg from the walk.* Fortunately he’s been tolerating my stupidity the entire time, and going forward after I apply a spur or tap him on the flank. However, those aids were not needed. What was needed was more perceptive riding from me.
So what is your seat doing when you close your leg, h/j riders? Turns out I should have asked myself this question a while ago. Eventers and dressage peeps, I know you are rolling your eyes at me right now. I deserve it, and I even know better. I’m pretty excited that Eli understands seat contact, though!
In other news, oi the weather. Coastal bales have been moved into the barn temporarily, right next to Eli’s stall. Another boarder took video of him trying to eat the hay adjacent to his stall and it’s kind of hilarious. If I can get the video from her, I’ll post it. Tuesday and Wednesday, turnout was FINALLY possible, so at least for those days I was no longer trying to ride a ticking time bomb.
Wednesday, I jumped Eli around over what was set up already, basically a bunch of singles and one Swedish, and he didn’t have the lead changes but everything else felt great–jumping right out of his step and getting to the middle everywhere. Because of impending torrential rain, that may have been the last time I get to jump before our next show on June 4. IF there is a show–that might get rained out, too. Unfortunately the venue for the show has had some flooding recently and I don’t know what condition the footing is in.
I packed up some riding gear to haul to work with me on Thursday morning in hopes of beating the rain. I even left work early. But nope, it had already rained a few times before I got to KBF so the footing was slick. While thunder rumbled in the background I grazed Eli until I saw a lightning flash, then we hand walked around the barn for a bit. Storms came through overnight and AGAIN there is flooding in the area. Every Memorial Day weekend around here we get flooding.
Unfortunately the forecast does not look good for riding, let alone having the show next Saturday. My hope is that there will be enough sun in between storms to keep the fields kind of okay for riding, because Eli can’t do nothing without getting a little cuckoo.
*This problem coincided with his return to work from the tooth/sinus thing. I like to think that without face/head pain, he can “hear” my seat and leg aids better now, and probably might have been able to understand them the whole time, but just couldn’t decipher them consistently because of a giant ball of snot in his face and a toothache. This is a strong hunch and nothing more. Sometimes I wish horses could talk, and then I realize they can if we know what to listen for.