Unfinished business

My plans with Derby have come to a halt for the time being, as he’s busy brewing an abscess in his right front.   The hoof is warm, and getting warmer, and it’s clearly tender.  So as that situation resolves, I’ve been riding Manny and Tucker, and they’ve been giving me invaluable feedback on a bad habit of mine – allowing my hands to creep downward and back, instead of keeping them up over the horse’s withers.   It turns out that Manny and Tucker, with their shorter, higher-set necks, are the perfect schoolmasters for this particular problem.  They also helped me do a better job of using my inside leg to ride the horse out into the contact, another sticking point for me.

I started tackling the problem while riding Manny in a lesson.  Christy caught me pulling his head in, instead of riding him out to the contact, so she had me focus on sitting up and carrying my hands correctly, keeping them quiet, while at the same time using my inside leg to encourage Manny to bend and soften.  As I did so, Manny responded positively.  His back came up and he really engaged for me. The lesson for me was “less is more, but ‘less’ has to be correct.”

I also had a very redemptive ride on Tucker recently.   He’s well trained but he is really hard for me to ride.  However, using some of the tactics from my lesson on Manny, I was finally able to have a decent ride on Tucker.   What both rides really showed me is that I am very hands-y, and am over reliant (and flat out incorrect).  I have rides on both slated for later this week – I’d like to get this bad habit fixed for once and for all before I get back on the Derbster.

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.

5 Responses to Unfinished business

  1. tbdancer says:

    As a fellow “hands-y rider,” I share your pain but I AM learning because my OTTB isn’t willing to go “what-EVER” and give me this cranked in, shoulder out circle. He becomes harder to ride because even after 60 days with a distinctly NOT talented trainer 11 years ago, he knows about inside leg/outside rein and it’s more comfortable for him if I’m become at least as untalented as his first dressage trainer. That means I have to become “sub-adequate.”

    Good luck with the abscess. Huey has had two of them since i’ve owned him; never had a horse with an abscess before, but this country (High Desert, Southern California) is known for presenting plenty of opportunities to experience such things. Bummer.

  2. Net says:

    Have you had the farrier and/or vet out? I know some people just let abscesses brew until they burst, and others drill through to it to let out the pressure instead. I have only experienced one and it was an infection from a close nail so the vet was required, so have no idea how to handle a normal abscess!
    Riding horses who tell you that you’re wrong is great experience! Tucson has been very forgiving in many ways, so getting to ride these schoolmaster types at the trainer’s place has been really good for me. Apparently I get more handsy as I get less fit, so it’s going away some without my even realizing it as I get fitter. But still… so many things to fix, such a limit on my patience with myself!

  3. Sarah Skerik says:

    Annette, yes, I had his farrier take a look. The bottom of the hoof is cool, the top, around the coronet band, is where the warmth is coming from, so the thought is that while it is an abscess, it’s not a hot nail. I’m smearing it with ichtamol (eww) and keeping him moving, The joints and the rest of the leg are cool and tight.

    Re: the handsy-ness I think you’re right about fitness. I’m not at my best (but am working to regain it!) after the holidays. And similar to what TBDancer notes above, Derby is definitely defensive of his face and mouth (can’t blame him.)

    I MUST improve my ability to use my seat and leg, and quiet my hands!

    • Net says:

      My right hand just has a special affinity to my knee…. In general, though, it’s amazing the various ways in which my hands can move when I’m riding! For some reason Bella is the horse I find easiest to keep my hands still while riding. It may help that she has a tendency toward head flipping even if hands are perfect when she’s not fit, and she definitely will if I fuss with her mouth right now…. Her naturally high neck position, and the fact she’s really lifted in front of the saddle even when stretching down helps as well, because I think of putting my hands together just above her neck in front of the saddle and that keeps them high enough.
      I wish I had thought to clean out my video camera when my friend was visiting this weekend so she could have gotten video of the end of my ride on Tucson. It’s interesting with him – we’re using a combination of side pull and bit because he’s more willing to push into contact with the noseband than he is a bit, but as the ride went my hands got quieter and his acceptance of contact grew. The difference in his body and quality of trot was pretty massive. Because Mike’s a better rider than I am the change from start to finish of his rides on Tucson aren’t as drastic in general – a reminder that the improvement I get each ride is my own, not my horse’s training. 😉

  4. “I MUST improve my ability to use my seat and leg, and quiet my hands!” Me too Sarah!!

    In the absence of instruction I have been reviewing recent photos and will hopefully get some video this weekend. My handsy style is high and wide these days…

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