Northwood Horsemanship Challenge: Week Three

This was a good week. I had a lot of fun and played with a ton of different variables to see what I could come up with balance-wise. I also played around a little more with Limbo connecting with me on the ground on line.

I spent the day Monday catching horses for deworming, vaccinations, and shoeing/trimming here at the ranch. Other than for a few minutes during feeding and watering, I didn’t get to spend much time with my personal horses. But, I had my hands on everything from weanling quarter horses to ancient warm bloods, so I don’t feel like I was out any time on my horsemanship.

Tuesday morning was much of the same. In the afternoon, my husband and I saddled up, took all four of our dogs and went for a trail ride down on the river. I really paid attention to how light my horse was in hand, especially when doing his hind end work. I was VERY pleased with what I had going on for the most part.

Wednesday I got a lot done. We spent thirty minutes in the arena on line. I switched up the area of the arena we used, and started adding back in hind end disengagement and bringing his front end over to change direction. There is still some resistance there but it is getting to be less and less.

After that, I hopped on and tortured myself with a lesson on sitting transitions stirrupless. Once I got good and tired and sore from that I figured it would be a perfect time to jerk my saddle and continue on bareback in the arena. I was nervous being in a big area at first but loosened up pretty quick. In no time we were trotting figure eights around barrels, and we even went over the ground poles a time or two. I was thrilled with the video and pictures I got from that day.

If I was going to pick myself apart (and I do, all the time) I would say my toes are turned out way too much most of the time. However, I spent a good portion of my childhood getting scolded for walking, and standing toe out, and after a long time of trying to adjust to a straighter stance both afoot and in the saddle, I can say, it just ain’t happening. If I make myself stand toe straight, it is excruciating. If I am toe straight in the saddle I am absolutely useless. I consider it my very own conformation flaw.

Other than that however I like how I am starting to look taller, and longer sitting on my horse. I feel like I am heading in the right direction there.

Thursday I did something I very seldom do. I took the entire day off. It was very windy here which made for a good excuse. Yes, I’ve been keeping up with everyone’s updates and there is no way I would dare complain about the weather here. However, while I will happily ride in the snow, rain, and heat, if it’s windy, and I don’t have to, you can’t make me! I can’t even really blame my horse. He doesn’t care. It just drives me batty bonkers to be out in it trying to get anything accomplished with my hair blowing in my face. So call me a wimp if you want, but I stayed inside, cooked, and wrote….and it was wonderful!

Friday I went for a little trail ride with my friend. We worked on one horse leaving the other, and a few little basics. The big thing on Friday, was my friend let me borrow her balance board to use for the duration of the challenge. It seemed like a good idea, so after everything was done for the night I gave it a whirl (pre-beer of course). Wow! I found all sorts of muscles I didn’t know I had. Mainly in the last place I figured I needed work, my back. I’ve kept it up, working at it for fifteen minutes a few times a day and I’ve gotten up to a count of twenty-one thousand. It’s a good thing we till have nine weeks because it’s not considered mastered until I can balance for ten minutes.

Saturday Limbo and I went out on our own for a five hour ride up into the mountains. It wasn’t so much a physical workout as much as it was a mental one. We walked the entire way and he didn’t even break a sweat. At least I know physically, I’ve been conditioning my horse in the right direction. We did a lot of serpentines around bushes, hanging out and waiting till he cocked a hind foot, while pointed toward home, and messed around with soft feel. It was great to be out for that long and just be with my horse and my dog.

Today. Well, today I felt like we both needed to blow off a little steam so I saddled up and went out to the cross country course behind our place. After an hour of galloping and jumping I think we were both in a better place mentally. I’ll start back in on the slow and steady work tomorrow, but today was a good reminder that he and I are both built for speed.

My friend suggested that I pay very close attention to how my feet adjust to being in the stirrups now that I am riding so much without them. I found instantly that after my really good bareback ride this week, I started bouncing myself out of the saddle with my stirrups, even when trying to post the trot. So, for yet one more experiment (Because, hey, what else do I have to do?) I lengthened my stirrups a notch. I went for the trail ride on Friday with my lengthened stirrups and I gotta say, that was a bad decision on my part. I hurt more, I felt less effective, and I felt myself starting to go back to the chair seat I’ve been trying so hard to stay away from. I put my stirrups back up for Saturday and today, and I felt a lot better about things. I’m going to have to see what the long term effects are.

This coming week I plan on doing most of my riding bareback. I’d like to even go down to the river and play in the water. Also, I want to maybe see if I can pull off going over slightly raised ground poles bareback. Limbo is still Limbo. Not a whole lot of change either way mentally. He does seem to be responding a little softer than what he was though.

Hopefully, by the end of this challenge, I’ll have him closer to the feel I am looking for.

Have a great week everyone! And stay warm!

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One Response to Northwood Horsemanship Challenge: Week Three

  1. Not only is this good content, now it’s easy to use. You are inspiring me to ride more and to be more thoughtful about what I hope to achieve with each ride. Thanks for the motivation, Chris.


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