Saturday, March 31, 2012

Dinah rides out

Dinah has been getting better and better each time I ride her. It amazing to think that three weeks ago, she couldn't canter on the longe, and now she is cantering under saddle. I have been working more on circles and improving her balance and rhythm. I have started to work on canter leads, so when she gets the wrong lead, I tell her to trot, and then ask her again to canter and praise her if she gets her lead. The canter is a 3 beat gate, a lead is when the horse reaches further forward with the inside front, and then they bring the outside front and inside hind, and then outside hind. I started longing her over a pole on the ground, and then I rode her over the pole. At this point I am just trying to get Dinah used to as many things as possible so she will be ready to handle anything at the competition. One new challenge was that there was a large play ball in the arena, probably about 3 ft in diameter. She was not so sure about it at first, but I encouraged her to walk up to it and then pushed it around and encouraged Dinah to push it with her nose, and she did! It was really cute.

Today was a big day of progress with Dinah. We began with grooming and then a hand walk. It had been raining and Dinah was kind of wet so I wanted her to dry before I put her saddle on. After the hand walk I worked on walking her all around the barn, led her through the barn, into a stall, on mats, concrete, I dragged a chair around while I was leading her, just trying to do all kinds of things to get her ready to handle the competition. Then I took her to the stair step, and practiced doing a turn on the forehand keeping her front feet on the first stair. It took a little work and patience but once she figured out what I wanted she was really good.
Sometimes she just wants to charge ahead and I have to remind her to wait and think for a second about what I am asking. Breaking through the fight or flight response and trying to get her to think about what I am asking, not just to try to get away. After all of that we went back to her pen and I got her ready to ride. I first longed her with side reins. I worked a lot on transitions and she was very obedient. Then I walked her on the longe and did some leg yielding on the longe line. Leg yielding is when the horse moves forward and sideways, crossing their legs over as they walk or trot. I stayed at Dinah's shoulder and maintained my contact to keep a slight inside bend. Then I pushed into her with my body and the whip and asked her to step over, and when she did it I gave her lots of praise. It was much more difficult to the right than the left, which just shows I need to keep working on balancing her out. Then I rode her walk trot canter, worked on moving her shoulders from outside rein. As I was finishing riding some other riders came into the arena. It is time for Dinah to start getting used to riding in the arena with other horses. She is not concerned about horses in front of her but she does not like horses to come up beside her. I spent a while walking her around and between other horses that were standing still. Then a lady named Carol with a nice quiet horse help me work with Dinah around the arena and get her more used to having a horse near her. Carol came just close enough to make Dinah a little nervous but not panicked. The idea is to put a little pressure on, and then take it off and repeat. This way the horse learns that the pressure is not going to hurt them and it's not going to stay forever. The idea is to show her that it's not really as bad as she thinks, an she realized that pretty quick. We walked and trotted with the other horse around the arena both directions, as usual the right was much more difficult. After this she stood quietly about 3 feet from the other horses. She is going to need more work on this, but today was a big day. After the arena carol and I went out on a short loop around the property, the same one I have handwalked many times. She was great on the trail, I think because she was pretty tired! I was tired too after all that work, but I am very proud of Dinah. As always thanks for reading and feel free to comment!


  1. It is amazing what progress you have had with Dinah in such short amount of time! Thanks for sharing! She is so beautiful. :)

  2. That sounds like a lot of work, for both of you. Good stuff though. (corrected info I promised you:

  3. great progress!! It's so much fun to read about it.

  4. Amazing process Torie! In developmental psych we call that the "Zone of proximal development" (the area just beyond where the person (or horse!) is and where they will be with a little push/support). What you are doing is great!