Sunday, January 27, 2013

I'm here, I'm here!

I'm not sure how much time I'll be able to blog, as some folks know, my life has been a bit dramatic over the last year or so, and there has not been much time for horses, much less blogging.  But, I am here in spirit, and have been since Denise's very first RAC, so I just had to join :-)

For those that don't know me, I'm Michelle in Connecticut, and Amanda's mom.  We have two Curlies right now, Lakota Gem, who is (or was) my horse, and Morningstar Jen.  Lakota and Jen are full siblings, whom we have rescued at different times in their lives, from different places.  I bought Lakota at the age of 7, unhandled, she will be 17 this year, so I've taken it REALLY slowly bringing her along *ahem*

Jen is 16 years old, and we have had her for 6 years.  Jen's story is here:  Amanda is riding Lakota this year, because as it turns out, Jen is almost completely blind.  We are now sharing a horse, and as the vet said, when she declared Jen blind and unfit for trail riding, pointed to Lakota's obvious rubenesque' figure and said "PLEASE have your daughter ride *that* one,  Please?"

Lakota is a sensitive horse, and always has been.  I like her sensitivity, and don't want to dull it out of her, but we need to find a balance between over-sensitive vs. lightness, reactive vs. engaged.  We are finally pretty darned good at the walk, and I do need to begin some trot work with her.  This should be interesting. She needs to get used to, and understand, that I will move around on her back when she trots.  She will pick up the trot, but when she feels me moving around up there, she stops, afraid I'm going to fall off, I guess, or unsure, unconfident.  She does need work on confidence, also.  A lot of confidence.  Lakota is always looking for Bigfoot in the woods.  She swears he is around every corner or bend in the trail, behind ever big rock waiting to leap out.  Sasquatch eat horses, did you know that?  That's what Lakota told me, anyway.

So while I am the ever-watchful mother, always nearby when my daughter rides, with Amanda and Lakota's differences in language, I have made it a point to get on Lakota after Amanda is finished, just to make sure that Lakota's funny little habits while Mandy rides aren't really becoming ingrained habits, but just feedback, as we assume.  And so far, so good, just feedback.

Here is my comment on Janeen's question about Amanda's post on her "spagetti arms", a term from one of my all time movies.  Anybody know which movie that is?.

"Hi Janeen, as Amanda's mom, ad hoc instructor, and inadvertent trainer of Miss Lakota, I can explain because I used the term "floppy wrists" and "spagetti arms" with Amanda today.  Lakota is a very green, very sensitive horse.  She doesn't know how to fill in the blanks for unclear cues.  She honestly doesn't know what you want if you aren't clear, both in your thoughts, your cues, and your body language.  She can be very frustrating to ride, until you understand what she is trying to tell you, get out of your own head/ego, and listen rather than blame the horse.  Don't ask me how I know this ;-)

Anyway, Amanda tends to "drop" the reins.  She holds them with such a loose hold that they look like they will fall out of her fingers.  Her wrists kind of flop down, and when she wants to cue the horse, she does it in a half-hearted way.  She kind of twists her wrist backward, rather than using a very clear signal with a hinge at the shoulder and 90 degree bend at the elbow with a straight line from elbow to bit end (well, rein end I should say, we use bitless here).  When Amanda opens her rein, she kind of half-heartedly opens it very loosely.  Lakota needs  to know what is being asked.  If you are going to open the rein, then open that rein, dammit, and give her space to move into!  She has a very big personal bubble, and needs space to move into or she feels her movement is impeded.  This shows up in lunging or free lunging her, also.  She will stop dead in her tracks if you get the tiniest bit ahead of her girth line, and just turn and face you.

amanda also lets her reins get too long probably because they are literally sliding out of her hands, and then when she shortens them she tends to hold them too tight, or forget to lengthenn the outside rein when engaging the inside rein in order to allow Lakota to bend.  When this happens, Lakota's neck gets short and thick, she twists her head to the side and sidepasses.

These are all things that lesson horses, all Mandy has ridden so far, will make up for, or ignore.  Lakota, however, does not.  She also will walk around the ring backwards if your butt is too tight.  Don't ask me know I know that one, too.  

Lakota is really a GREAT teacher when it comes to this stuff.  "


  1. Thanks, Michelle! I will think about this as I'm riding next time! I really should take some lessons every now and then!

  2. Love your "don't ask me how I know this" comments! Yep, our horses are GREAT teachers, aren't they Michelle?? ;)

  3. It's a hard lesson to learn when to listen and when to guide (tell.) It is actually better to have an "elastic" contact with your horse's mouth because otherwise they have no guidance from you! If you don;t "lead" they'll make up what they decide to do... It's always a balancing job. Of course if a horse is trained to neck rein, the rules are different!
    I'm sure that Lakota is always aware of potential Sasquatch all around you in the trees! :-) Laurie