Saturday, April 3, 2010

Our lesson goes badly

Trying to teach someone the correct rising trot diagonal is not easy.

Let me go back to the beginning. My friend asked me to teach her this so today was the day. She rode a friends horse down to our riding paddock that needed some work and then she was going to ride Sam and learn off him. The mare she was riding bucked her off twice while she was riding. Her confidence I guess was already rattled but she is a confidant rider so when she said she was ready for Sam I didn't question it.

We started on the ground explaining that you rise when the outside shoulder is forward and sit when it goes back. We went over the importance of rising on the correct leg, balance, helping the horse etc. I then demonstrated on Sam. She said she could see and understood. I helped her up on Sam, told her that Sam was feeling a little naughty but she shouldn't have any difficulty, he generally settles quickly. We went through the basics of how to ask Sam to move forward and how to ask him too stop. She then went up to the trot and we worked on her rising. She couldn't see the shoulder moving forward she said. I asked her to continue trotting around and to keep watching, it will come in time. She did a lot of walk, trot transitions to see if that would help her see. I got her on the right rise trot diagonal and then asked her to just trot around the arena and really concentrate on what she was feeling, that didn't help either. While she was trotting around a rider that was working around us cantered his horse away. Sam figured that he could follow so tried to canter after him. My friend in a paniced, haunched over which caused her lower leg to come up onto his tummy, her head went down and she pulled back hard on the reins - poor Sam had no idea what was happening so went up in the air in leaps and bounds. She managed to pull him up but it rattled her. She was brave and tried again, trotting around. All was going well until she accidentally lost her balance and banged him a little too hard in his ribs, Sam went to canter again, she thought he was going to go silly again but this time she sat back instead of pulling him in the mouth and he came back to a walk nice and quietly. By this time the poor thing was in tears and decided to call it a day.

Thinking back there were quite a few things I did wrong,

# I should not have let her ride Sam with spurs - she did tell me that she knew how to use them - ride with them active and not active, but now I know different
# I need to use a softer tone when helping people. When I project my voice out doors it comes out like an order.
# I think I am too blunt, I think I need to sugar coat things a little.
# If I think Sam is feeling a little naughty only let professionals or people with very soft hands ride him
# Do not presume anything, take the time to really watch people and listen to your gut

I jumped back on Sam to walk up with her and he was very tense. Jig jogged but listened to my seat to come back to a walk. I took Sam to another paddock to work him. It took me longer to calm him down than usual but he did give me some really nice work by the end and we had a relaxed canter on both reins so we ended on a good note.

My friend would like to try again on Monday but I am reluctant for her to ride Sam again. If she does I think we will do it in the round yard with no spurs and in his halter. That way I will have a little more control of him as well and less likely for her to kick him or pull him when it is not necessary.

Any ideas to help my friend figure out if she is on the correct diagonal when trotting? She can rise trot but is having trouble feeling or seeing the shoulder move. I wondered if I coloured a shoulder or put a bright mark down the front on the shoulder so she would see that move back and forth. I was also going to get her to go back to a walk and tell me when each shoulder moves, get to close her eyes and really feel it.


SprinklerBandit said...

Hm... repetition seems to be the best way to learn, but I like your idea to paint Sam with bright colors. Maybe have her pick up the trot and sit a few strides before she starts posting so she can figure out what she's doing?

And I like the idea to take away the spurs and put Sam in a halter. That way, she can focus on herself entirely and you don't have to worry about Sam getting confused.

Anonymous said...

Do not, I repeat, do not, let her ride Sam again (except possibly on the lunge as described below, although I have my doubts about that) - she sounds like a real beginner and could really confuse/mess up Sam. I know you're trying to be nice and help her, but if she can't even see the shoulder moving at the trot, she needs to be taking lunge line lessons until she can, and should learn to ride that way. And what on earth is she doing wearing spurs - who could possibly have told her that was OK at her level of experience?!!! No rider without complete control of independent hands, leg and seat should ever wear spurs, and this rider isn't there yet, although she may get there someday. (I have a pretty good idea why that other horse bucked her off!) Sorry to be blunt - I hope you understand - and I'm certainly not criticizing you in the slightest. You could take away her reins (have her on the lunge and a holding strap from D to D across the withers), not to mention her spurs, and start at walk and sitting trot - she's not ready for rising trot yet, I think. The best way to learn to tell your diagonals is being able to feel the feet, and where each foot is, and that starts at the walk. Are you sure you're up for this?

Nina said...

Thanks guys - Kate I do understand and I agree with you whole heartedly. No I do not believe she should be wearing spurs either and yes that is probably why the horse bucked so violently - Sam can be quite polite at times.

It is hard to tell a friend that she is not a very good/forgiving/understanding rider when they think they are at least good. I have tried on a few occassions to educate her with no success so when she asked for my help I thought this was a chance to help educate.

I think I will get her to ride another horse if I can find a quiet enough one. I will start at the walk and see how we go - I am expecting tears though.

Rising Rainbow said...

I also think putting her on the lunge might be helpful. If you can explain to her on the lunge she will have less to keep track of, thus giving her full attention to figuring out the shoulder. It does sound like it all is too much for where she is currently at. Eliminating worry about control of the horse should help with that.

Good luck.