Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pilates musings

OK, I had to do something, I have literally sat through my first winter in a decade and aside from my walks and the occasional day of riding between raindrops , things where changing in the derier region that were not pretty. The lack of motivation to do my beloved yoga tape( you know, no heated room, or yoga friends and well, gee is house hunters international on again?) drove me to take action. I had driven by a sign just down the road from me that offered private Pilate's lessons for a full 8 months, casually reading it while I waited for the light to change. Last week I actually called the number I had practically memorized. My first lessons went by in a blur of pulleys, funny shaped chairs, padded barrel like contraptions and mat work. It was great! So why am I writing about this on my horse blog? Simple, this type of exercise gives you tons of information about your body that directly relates to your riding. "How so?" you ask. Well, using myself as an example I have had all kinds of "aha" moments concerning my lower body strength/balance. Way back when I used to swim on a team my coaches killed me with kick board drills. They where trying to develop a good strong kick. To no avail as it turns out, as I always compensated with my arm and belly strength. You've seen those Olympic swimmers kicking up a fan of water behind them...yeah, that wasn't me, EVER. So then I was riding, and my coaches had me in two point, two point with no stirrups, sitting trot no stirrups, jumping no stirrups. What do you think happened here? Well, my balance was pretty good up top, but my hips tended to collapse to the left which meant? yep, I ate sh*t alot. So I did what any smart young gal would do, I stopped taking ridiculous riding lessons of course! And the compensation continued. Enter John Lyons. Well, his advise to my position questions was "shut up and ride" or "don't get out of position" This I could do, no one drilling me on where to be or not to be. Believe it or not, I think all the "not thinking" about my body may have helped in a weird way. I wasn't pounding myself mentally over my lack of position and I wasn't building wrong muscles trying desperately to be right. Which bring us back around to the present and pilates. Vanity may have driven me to begin this but mentally I'm finally ready for it. Instead of being mortified by my complete lack of skill in class, I'm fascinated by my teachers ability to zero in on exactly the muscle that I should be using. I know I've used said muscle too. WOW! I'm surprised( and thrilled) at how many muscles tell me they have been working! This new introduction to parts often ignored is really giving me the ability to "see" many of the corrections offered in riding articles. I studied them, trotted right out and got on my horse and then proceeded to get disgusted with myself, my saddle, the weather and finally the author of said article. Into the trash it went too. After a few pilates lessons though, its as if a film has been removed from the words in "how to" riding articles. They make sense now. Its like Lyons training. I have always "lyonized" other training techniques. Passing them through a filter of sorts to see if they can fit in my favored philosophy. Now I can "pilate-ize" riding articles! Its a whole new world! So , for those of you who like myself who have long standing, deep seeded riding challenges, I recommend getting introduced to your body through pilates. You will be glad you met!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

a good giggle.....written by????

Arena: Place where humans can take the fun out of forward motion.

Bit: Means by which a rider's every motion is transmitted to the
sensitive tissues of the mouth.

Bucking: counter-irritant.

Crossties: Gymnastic apparatus.

Dressage: Process by which some riders can eventually be taught to
respect the bit.

Fence: Barrier that protects good grazing.

Grain: Sole virtue of domestication.

Hitching rail: Means by which to test one's strength.

Horse trailer: Mobile cave bear den.

Hotwalker: The lesser of two evils.

Jump: An opportunity for self-expression.

Latch: Type of puzzle.

Lungeing: Procedure for keeping a prospective rider at bay.

Owner: Human assigned responsibility for one's feeding.

Rider: Owner overstepping its bounds.

Farrier: Disposable surrogate owner; useful for acting out aggression
without compromising food supply.

Trainer: Owner with mob connections.

Veterinarian: Flightless albino vulture

Only Horse People:

- believe in an 11th commandment: inside leg to outside rein...

- know that all topical medications come in either indelible blue or
neon yellow.

- think nothing of eating a sandwich while mucking out a stall.

- know why a thermometer has a yard of yarn attached to the end of it.

- are banned from Laundromats.

- fail to associate whips, chains and leather with sexual deviancy.

- can magically lower their voices five octaves to bellow at a pawing

- will end relationships over their hobby.

- cluck to their cars to help them up hills.

- insure their horses for more than their cars.

- know (and care) more about their horse's nutrition than their own.

- have no problem speaking of semen, abscesses and colic surgery at
the dinner table.

- have a smaller wardrobe than their horse..

- engage in a hobby that is more work than their day job.

- know that a good ride is better than Zoloft any day.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Buddy Sour! Not as tasty as a whisky sour...

Well, its happened, I have had to actually work on separation anxiety in my own horses. This never was a problem until now when I have only two on a small farm, isolated from other equines in the world. Its not like I haven't taught this lesson before, its just that I haven't needed to on my own horses. "Dern it" and "oh goody" all at the same time. Obviously, this opportunity is adding to my own horses training. Its giving me more practice in learning to teach a very in demand lesson. It sets a good goal for me when my lesson plans seem to have wandered down a path to no where. But "dern it", like trailer loading, its one of those less glamorous skills to teach. So where do I start? Well, since Boo doesn't seem to be the "sufferer" in this instance and she is the one going to be leaving the property for a clinic in May, we began with Cuervo. I shut him up in my round pen which is in the middle of the turnout where they both live. Like with teaching trailer loading, I do not put any hay in there for him. After all, I need to gauge his responses and hay would definitely prove to be a distraction that would cloud true results. I then get Boo ready to ride right by the round pen. With in nuzzling range. One can also simply do this whole exercise on the ground as well,which is what is recommended if both horses seem agitated by separation. I however have chosen to ride, as I mentioned Big Boo is not at all fussed about where her roomie is or is not. My goal is to raise Cuervos emotions just a little by moving Boo away from his pen and bringing her back as soon as he begins to look a little bit worried. In the beginning he was beside himself bucking and pawing while we simply brushed and got tacked. So even this had to be broken down into smaller bits for him to digest. In other words, I would brush her a tiny bit and return to the rail to hang out with Cuervo, playing lip games and brushing his face. Then I would return to brushing her. Returning to him before his behaviour escalated into pacing laps or bucking jags in place. This only took one 30 minute session and I was able to brush, saddle and mount Boo the next session with nary a peep from him . I actually added walking and stopping around the pen just over the rail for the first few minutes before walking a few steps off the rail and back. I increased the length of the walking increments as he was able to tolerate her moving around the outside of the pen. If he started to trot ahead of us, exhibit driving behaviour, or paw the ground we simply stopped and stood until he relaxed again. You see some horses will actually look worried and whinny to their mates. Cuervo, however, tends toward stallion like behaviour or full on flight with bucking and farting. In some circles this would not be accepted as anxiety but "bad" behaviour and he would most likely be shut up in a barn to "work it out" so the other horse could be ridden with out influence from the "bad" horse. This technique is well accepted and is called "flooding" in behaviour modification circles. If it fails as it has a 50/ 50 shot of doing, the repercussions are miserable for the horse who didn't work it out not to mention for the trainer called later to fix it. I don't approve of this type of behaviour modification for horses nor to do I approve of chemical intervention unless its an emergency situation. Like all other skills, this lesson can be taught and is a life skill that the domestic horse is going to be required to master. Not many of us can ride both of our horses at the same time after all! We are still a work in progress. However our last session (before the gallons of rain) Boo and I where all over the turn out with cuervo poking about the round pen in a very disinterested manner. Next will be to have him in a the smaller turn out while Boo and I continue in the larger one and then reverse it by having our ride in the smaller and he in the larger. Then we will ad stints outside the turn out and stints inside the trailer, out of sight. Until he is ho hum about all of this I will not give him hay as a distraction. By clinic time I expect he won't care that we are gone for the day. Stay tuned......