Monday, May 13, 2024

What Winning Looks Like


As we’ve been puttering around this spring, I’ve been thinking a lot about what winning, as it pertains to horses, would look like for me.  I’m a firm believer that if you have a clear vision of what you want you are a lot more likely to achieve it.  So, as I’ve been pondering this the thing that comes up most often for me is having a horse I can tack up, hop on, and ride around on a loose rein at the walk, trot, and canter.  An absence of tension, a partnership based in connection.  It’s not that I don’t want to pursue dressage AFTER I have this connection in place but I feel like we need to work on the foundation more.  

We’ve been rebuilding our foundation the past few weeks mostly using the Warwick Schiller videos available on YouTube.  Working on having Cruise be present for ground work and under saddle.  Adding some tools like flexion at a standstill until he’s present, adding in moving off the inside leg while maintaining the flexion and then bending to a stop when my leg comes off, and bending to a stop from the walk, trot and canter.  The tools are helpful, especially when paying attention to his ears,but the key is having him present and having him co-regulate with me.  And of course my being present, which is a blog post all of its own.  Lots and lots of box breathing going on.

I’m happy to say he is going fantastically three weeks in.  Relaxed, through his back, listening, not spooking, and now having the ability to more easily come into his Sympathetic(fight or flight) nervous system and then switch back to the Para Sympathetic(rest and digest).  Everything is a work in progress but we have half-halts.  And better straightness to the right.  And forward.  And best of all a happier horse.  Hopefully, online horse shows and hauling out for lessons will come this summer but if not I’d be pretty happy doing just what we’re doing for the foreseeable future.  And doesn’t he look fabulous?  I’ve added SmartItch-Ease to his SmartPak and all his skin funk is gone, his coat is blooming, and the bugs are leaking him alone.  Kind of expensive but totally worth it!