Fixing my “Go” button

No, we’re not schooling Spanish walk. He was stomping a fly.

It’s become painfully evident to me that Derby is dead to my leg.  I’m not willing to escalate, and buy a longer whip and sharper spurs.  Ideally, I’d love to be an effective enough rider with a responsive horse to not require either of these accoutrements.   So in my lesson last night, we made getting rid of the whip in one week a goal.  When that happens, I need the horse to be pretty hot off my leg.  Otherwise, we’re going to get nothing accomplished.

Christy has ridden Derby for me, and has dealt with the deadness by insisting that he GO FORWARD NOW.  In all her rides, this insistence has elicited a buck from the protesting equine, but then, magically, the ride improves.  He goes forward.

Last night, I told her that I’d man up and get it done.  Tonight I got to work.  We started out in a nice marching walk, but Derby soon wanted to peter out on me.  I squeezed my legs.  Nothing.   I gave him a good Pony Club boot with both heels.  Nothing.   I took a deep breath, and repeated the Pony Club boot, and applied a simultaneous crack with the whip.

He bucked, and then went forward.  In fact, it was what Christy experienced.   Apres buck, I had a very motivated horse.  He carried himself and was in front of my leg (finally.) The buck was rideable, and frankly, the forwardness was worth it.  I have another lesson tomorrow.  Hopefully the boss will approve.

About Sarah Skerik
Sarah Skerik is an experienced digital marketing executive and strategist with a long track record of success in content marketing, social media, demand generation, event marketing, sales enablement, product management and business development.

7 Responses to Fixing my “Go” button

  1. Once again we’re on parallel tracks…

    I hate hate hate the pony club boot, but that + a nice smack with the whip as backup does gain attention. “Whoa – she really means it!”

    What bothers me is how unsubtle the big aids make my riding feel, although intellectually I know that until Val responds to my leg we can’t even think about being refined.

    Forward is always the answer!

    • Sarah Skerik says:

      I’m with you, Christian, the “Boot+Whip” is inelegant, to say the very least. I hate doing it. But in Derby’s case, I just need to do it once.

      I also MUST commit to making him more responsive. That means (for me) I have to be present at all times when I ride. If I get a less than perfect response, I need to correct it on the spot. I’ve not made this a habit, needless to say.

      When I started riding Maddie, I marveled at how light and responsive she was. Christy had just put 90 days of training on the mare, and really, there is no greater pleasure than riding a horse that is so responsive. Her personal horse, Liam, is exactly the same way (https://collectingtbs.com/2011/12/16/the-best-horse-i-ever-rode). I want Derby to feel like Mads did and Liam does. But that means being a lot more aware and proactive in the saddle.

      This will be the difference, for me, between riding well and effectively with horse on my aids … or not!

      What tactics are you using, C? Have you found a way to keep yourself dialed in? That’s one of my biggest issues – I get distracted doing something else, then suddenly realize that we’re puttering around and he’s way, way behind my leg.

  2. I know what you mean about the joy of responsive horses. Well, I remember it, from when I had access to a trainer. ;D Her school horses were so well trained. Not easy to ride mind you – but only having to focus on yourself and your aiding was something I didn’t fully appreciate until I began working with my own horse, on my own.

    I honestly think that staying dialed in is not just a riding issue, but a life issue. How can we expect to be attentive and in the moment in the saddle when we are not consistently that way out of the saddle, i.e. 99% of the time?

    So – I work on improving my mindfulness 24/7 with the hopes that my focus will improve while riding as well. Same with softness, patience, posture…

    • Sarah Skerik says:

      Oy. Good observation, but it doesn’t bode well for me – I live in “multitasking” mode. I am going to need to go reflect on the idea of mindfulness out of the saddle. Hmm. Drat.

      • Multitasking is the bane of the 21st century I fear. (Typed at my can’t-live-without Macbook Pro while monitoring the never-leaves-my-side iphone that is currently streaming weather radar.) ;D

      • Annette says:

        I’ll say it again – check out Feldenkrais in your area… helps with attentiveness to your body at all times! 🙂
        As for the whip and boot – yeah, that was my life for the first two years I had Tucson!

  3. Sarah Skerik says:

    Annette – Feldekrais is on my list. I promise I’ll check it out sometime soon. It really does sound interesting and like it would work for my issues.

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