Thursday, August 30, 2012

Artificial Aids

So,we all know our basic aids, right? We have our leg, seat, weight, hands, and voice... Then a few artificial ones: whip, spur, double bridle, etc.
I take pride in how quick off the leg my horses tend to be. I like it when you close your leg, the pony GOES with a "yes ma'am" instead of taking a kick-kick-kick-kick-roll-into-the-pony trot kind of transition.
It's all about standards, right?

So, why bring all this useless garbage about aids up? Because I have had to up the ante with RC to keep him fun for me to ride while he's still giving lessons to the kids. Introducing spurs.
Now, RC is a solid guy. He knows his job, he's safe and dependable, and he's fun once he gets going. The downside to Mr Safe and Dependable is that with a few beginner/novice lessons a week, he tends to revert to his western pleasure mode... Which can be fun, but I expect my horses to be powerful and forward and quick off the aids.
Not any of that shuffling around the arena, pretending that he's being forward and obedient when really he's humming some little ditty to himself and tuning me out. So out come the spurs for a little refresher on what 'off the leg' actually means.

I think that my leg is pretty good. I mean, I don't 'accidently' bump RC with the spur, or flop around like a dead fish. It's that attention to details that really makes one a trainer, instead of just a rider. Keep this fact in mind...

Well, my attention slipped a little.

I had a great ride on RC (even got some nice changes!), untacked and bathed him, put him away and grabbed the next pony to work.
Deli's turn.

You know where I'm going with this... I forgot to remove my spurs.
Now, Delight is a very forward thinking pony. I have never had to use the whip or spur to get her forward. I've used the whip to activate a hind leg or encourage her to give through her ribs, but not to drive her forward. I have never used spurs on Delight.

Until yesterday.

Delight has been a little sticky to the left in the last week, so while doing some 10 m circles to changes of direction, I added a little more leg... and incidentally, spur. Delight responded to that little nudge with a rounded POW spur like I had just jammed a cattle prod into her fat little belly.

She leaped forward in one of those both-hind-legs-bunny-hop type moves, then dropped her head and neck out of the frame and gave a few good bronc moments while I held on using only sheer will and ab muscles that even I didn't know I had, since I didnt want to A) hit her with the spur again or B) clamp my legs which has proven to result in increased leaping and twisting.

After a very active 45 seconds, I hopped off Delight (voluntarily) and removed the offending spurs. We had a nice little ride after that....

Lesson learned: Always check your boots. Especially when riding La Ponita.

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