Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Wunderkind has returned

Good news! Fire breathing dragon appears to have left the premises. I have had a week full of fantastic rides. The Wunderkind is back, and I couldn't be happier. I missed him so while he was apparently on vacation to some sunny hideaway and left his rebellious twin brother in his place.

I still have some things to fill in from the past to weeks. I want to do a post about our Thanksgiving Day Ride From Hell, and what I learned from it. But for today, I'm going to post about my great rides this week.

I've been riding him with a flash attachment and it is making a world of difference. I have it on pretty loose, I can fit four fingers underneath it, with my hand flat against his muzzle. But even without being too snug, it is really helping us make the right connection.

Tucker seemed to have figured out that a good way to evade work is to root the reins out of my hands. He also has a tendency to grab the inside rein, especially tracking left, which makes it difficult for me to ride him inside leg to outside rein. But riding with the flash, this hasn't happened at all. I'd imagine the flash just prevents him from repositioning his jaw so that he can't grab the bit. Instead, he's staying soft and light and bending from my leg instead of my hand, which means his whole body is bending instead of the portion in front of the saddle. Which, obviously, is the goal.

I think my favorite ride of the week was last night. At the trot I worked on doing lots of little reverse turns, changes of direction, circles around the jumps, and shallow serpentines to try to get him to smoothly change his bend. Since he was so soft, there was actually a loop in my inside rein as we reversed, and he was turning completely off my outside leg but never lost his inside bend. Since he wasn't bracing against my hand at any point, he had to balance himself from behind. His gaits even felt more comfortable. He was so good and so consistent that I only rode for about 20 minutes. I love being able to reward him by ending the ride early when he doesn't put a foot wrong.

I had a great lesson today too. His flat work was very good. On the lateral work, I still need to remember that during the right to left leg yield, I need to keep him straight off my left rein but not brace with my left hand and restrict his forward motion. Otherwise he gets sort of "stuck" and it feels like he's not moving off my right leg, but I think it's because I'm not giving him anywhere to go.

The jumps were great. I am finally starting to believe that he really could care less about my amateur mistakes. He is definitely the most honest horse I've ever ridden. He will leave the ground from anywhere and there is never a question in my mind about whether he'll jump. We can leave from a mile away or practically under the base of the fence and he'll just figure it out and leave the ground. I'm finally understanding that as long as I don't worry about it, he won't. I guess it's a matter of realizing that he doesn't know that a distance is "wrong." Sure, a short distance might be a little harder for him but unless I give him some cue that I'm worried about it, he has no sense of what the "right" distance would be. More often than not, when we have a good canter rhythm, all the distances work out naturally. But when I miss a few times, like I did today, it's so nice to know that he doesn't hold a grudge.

Still working a little on my position over fences. I have gotten my lower leg underneath me and I'm getting much better about keeping my hip angle open so that my upper body doesn't end up on his neck. But I need to get the feeling of staying closer to the saddle, with more bend in my knee. Right now I think I'm working so hard on keeping my lower leg from slipping back that I'm bracing with a straight knee, which is forcing my hips too far up out of the tack. It'll get there. Like everything else, it's a work in progress.

All in all, this week was a great week riding-wise. Made me feel so grateful to have such a wonderful horse. Especially given that the last couple of weeks with him were so difficult. The highs make the lows totally worth it, don't they?

If the roads aren't icy tomorrow morning, Alicia is going to show Tucker in the Level One jumpers. It snowed all day, so we'll see. . . .


  1. Glad you had a great week - may things continue to go well, and even improve!

  2. That sounds awesome!!!! Isn't it the best feeling when after a bad spell it all comes together!!!!! GO TUCKER!!!!!!

  3. Tucker sounds like quite the trooper. I'm glad you found something (and someone) that work for you.

  4. That sounds like great progress! It's tricky when they try to convince you to support them on the inside rein like that. It takes a minute to realize it's a problem with their outside side to fix it!

  5. Catching up on my reading finally.

    Whoo hoo! Totally awesome!!

    Now that I've ridden (i.e. trotted on the flat, ha!) a hunter, I have a little better idea of what you two are doing and it's making your posts more fun than ever. I'm still clueless about hunters, but I'm learning. Interesting on the flash. I don't crank it either, on anyone. Just snug enough to stabilize the bit, not tight enough to clamp a mouth shut.

    What a great horse Tucker is. Sounds like a terrific match: he's lucky to have you for a mom. I'd say it's honest on both sides, which is the BEST feeling in the world.

    Can't wait to hear more!


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