Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Drunk Horse

I wasn't planning on going to the barn yesterday, but I got a phone call around 3:30 from our trainer that (insert name that I can't remember here) was going to be coming by the barn. He's from Holland and did big time hunter/jumpers and now dressage. I guess he goes all over now doing clinics. Hell if I can remember his name. I'll edit when I can remember. Anyway, the price of his lesson was 60$, and my trainer asked me if I'd defray the cost for Denali's lessor so that she could take a lesson with him. I said sure, and that I'd check with my husband and then be out.

I learned a lot of different ideas from him. Things I didn't know, such as what side the buckle faces on the reins. I had no idea. Denali's lessor hooked her up to lunge her, and as she was doing that he said, "why do you do it that way?" (through the bit, up and around the poll, and connected to the other side.) I was afraid that my trainer would pull out the, "I've been saying that's not the way to do it" but she didn't and said that's how she taught us. He told us that with an OTTB you shouldn't put pressure on the bit, because they are trained to go faster. He put the lunge line through the bit and then attached it to the nose band on the other side. I still have visions of her freaking out and breaking my new expensive bridle. I guess it makes sense. He also said he hates bridles without flashes. He said you need it to help support the bit in the horses mouth. Well, my new one does not have a flash, and I'm not running out and buying a new one so she'll deal for now. He also wanted a thicker bit for her mouth.

He was very critical, he said Denali should only be working on walking collected on the bit until she doesn't walk like a drunk horse. Once she's accomplished that then move up to trotting, but not until. He kept picking on Denali's lessor. Poor Lessor! I kept laughing, and felt horrible for doing so, but I was just so thankful that it wasn't me on the horse.

He hopped up and rode Denali for a little bit (without a helmet, I thought I was going to die.) He said she was a very quick learner, and that she a very smart horse with a perfect dressage neck. I love hearing good things about my horse. He was very surprised where I got her and impressed with how she looked. I can't take any of that credit, her lessor put all her muscle on her.

I asked him about my new saddle, he said it fit her well, but by looking at me it wasn't going to fit me. I know that, it fits good, just not perfect. I had a hard time keeping my knee in the right place naturally on Saturday. I had to work really hard on that, but it will work for the next few years. I still feel better in it than my Harry Dabbs. I just never felt really secure in my other saddle. Once I start riding more and more, I will look into a different saddle. I mentioned through e-mail to my husband that I'd like to save for a custom saddle, but that's not going to happen, if ever. It's hard to explain to someone who isn't into horses that you'd like to drop $3,000 on a saddle when you already have to pay $500.00 + each month just for board. He'd probably feel better if he got the meat from the cow that the saddle was made from. Regardless he'd be proud of me this month, I just got our credit card bill and it's $1,000 less than normal. See honey! I do save!

Denali did spook when her lessor got off. I still think I freaked her out when I hopped off on Sunday, and that she's having flash backs to me coming off of her screaming my head off. I guess we'll need to work on getting on and off, and on and off until she decides that it's okay. I was worried that it had something to do witht he saddle fit, but this guy (who's name I don't remember) got off slowly and quietly, and she was fine. I think it's the noise of hitting the dirt that reminds her and freaks her out. Does that make sense?

On May 2, I'm taking a saddle fitting clinic. I called the tack store here yesterday to talk about saddles and saddle fit (because I'm super anal and I've been worried since last Wednesday about Denali and her new saddle, because apparently she was a PITA on the lunge line.) They send her to England and she said she's going to regurgitate everything she knows. I'm excited. I always like learning new things, especially when it comes to something so near and dear to my heart.

Other than that I was impressed with the lesson yesterday. Not too sure how Denali's lessor felt about it. She's been picked apart lately when it comes to riding and it makes me feel bad. I obviously want what's best for Denali, but I also want her to be happy to come to the barn. Not sure how much fun it is going to be to ride a horse who should only be walking. We'll see.

I have a bunch of pictures I wanted to post but my computer at home is on it's last leg. It's not working right at all, and that frustrates me!


Frizzle said...

I am definitely not some big fancey European trainer, but I have to say that I disagree with some of the things this guy said. Remember, he is used to riding horses that will be doing GP dressage, so, yes, everything has to be done perfectly.
But, for most normal horses, you don't need to just walk for weeks and weeks (especially since Denali has been getting ridden for a few years now). And the legendary Jimmy Wofford says, "Walk for muscle, TROT FOR BALANCE, canter for wind." So, in my opinion, she needs to do more trotting to get more balanced. (Keep in mind it could also have something to do with the EPM.)
As for having to have a flash to "support the bit" -- utter nonsense! It seems like the upper-level dressage people are obsessed with flashes. But, again, you do not necessarily need one, especially since the boucher that you are using is very, very stable in the horse's mouth and does not move around much. A flash is used to keep the horse's mouth shut, not to support the bit.
I know it's hard to disagree with professionals and people who are supposed to be "experts," but sometimes you just have to pick and choose what advice you will follow and what you think is a bunch of malarkey.
Just my two cents!
And good luck with the saddle-fitting -- it seems like a bunch of us are having this same issue lately! :-)

Denali's Mom said...

Oh I agree! Lol, it was nice to hear him say how nice she was, but I didn't worry a lot about what he was saying. She's a horse, she's not going to be going to the Olympics anytime soon.

I did change her bit! She's in a loss ring snaffle, but still it's not that bad. I honestly think she'd HATE, HATE, HATE a flash, she chews her bit the entire time, so I think it would freak her out.

BTW! Keep your blog!! Where else will I go when I'm freaking out? How is Salem doing? Do you know?

Beth said...

I totally agree with Frizzle, especially on the whole flash thing. A dropped nose band will support the bit but a flash does not. Here is a great site that show why: http://www.sustainabledressage.com/tack/bridle.php#flash

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

Interesting stuff!!!
Ok, what about a full cheek snaffle? I haven't used one on Laz but a lot of other peeps that works with OTTB say they love them b/c it doesn't move around side to side in the horse's mouth (obv you have to fit a bit correctly for that too) or a larger O ring.
I agree..I hate flashes..they look pretty but I wouldn't want my mouth clamped shut, lol.
So the walking walking walking I think could be good actually, to a point. I walked Laz to teach him to calm down and not jig jig jig when i first got him which proved helpful b/c now he walks w/ a nice low relaxed head (I mean, somedays lol) and knows that his walk, is almost his time to chill. He used to anticipate SO much being an OTTB so walking is pretty important. But doing NOTHING but that I think could make a smart horse go nuts and bored..you do have to give an OTTB a job to keep their focus and they enjoy that. Walking over poles, etc ..anytime a bit different so her mind is working I think is helpful, but I'm new at this too..so this is just what has worked for us. Trotting is so important for muscle so I cant imagine not doing that w/ her for long. They pressure on the bit is true, in racing they do respond to more pressure on a fat snaffle to run faster. One rein stop is important to learn w/ her and get her to stop quietly (round pen maybe) and still working on the emerg dismount.
Anyway..I think u and her lessee are doing great and she is loved, being used and like u said..you aren't training for the Olympics so take it all in stride.