Here is my post, Tug Buddy, the extended version:
Hello! It’s quite a cold day…(isn’t it supposed to be spring?!) and it is raining here and FREEZING! It was raining the entire time throughout the lesson…so here I am finally warm! Okay, enough with the rambling:
So it was freezing cold and pouring rain when I got to Garrod Farms for my lesson. I’ve always remembered whenever there was rain, there would be like this water-fall thing at the north side of the arena where the water drops down from the Arena cover. I got there and rushed to the Office’s cover to get refuge from the rain.
I saw poor Tug alone standing in the rain. Tug is a large bay horse with a star and mealy muzzle. He has really broad shoulders and a long neck. He is a fairly large horse. Well…I just happened to be the one riding Tug. So it is my first time riding Tug and I’ve seen him. All I knew was that he has a long jog and doesn’t stay in the lope much. I mounted him and I had to sit in the saddle there, watching them discuss that Tug needed a throat latch. They said he was doing a thing where he flipped his head and the bridle would just come off (he wears a hackmore). So Christina did this really smart thing of weaving the halter through the bridle!
But I entered the arena and rode in there (after adjusting my stirrups!), breathing in the smell of fresh tanbark. It looked quite interesting. I have seen new tanbark in the arena, but for some reason, it seemed brighter. Well, it didn’t matter. After all, with this gloomy day, it made the arena seem lighter than it actually was. He was a bit wet and scruffy from standing in the rain to get his bridle fixed. I scratched his neck. I asked him to walk a bit faster since he was dragging behind a bit. I bumped with my legs. He walked a bit faster but still dragged. A few times, his head was bent so I had to pull at the reins a bit to ask him to straighten out. A few times while walking, he would lower his head so much it was hard to steer. I had to ask him to lift his head. I walked around two circles each direction before asking him to jog.
It was a bit surprising at first. Seeing his large jog when other people are riding him, I fully expected a bumpy jog. However it was so smooth I barely felt it. Well, I didn’t feel it for long. Soon, he went back into a dragging, slow walk. I asked him to jog again. He walked faster but didn’t jog. I did everything before kicking him: click click click click and squeeeeeeeze! Now a little nudge. Still no jog. A little kick….still a walk. Okay Tug, so you aren’t going to play it easy, neither am I….okay? So I gave him a kick with a click.
Finally, off he went at a jog.
Now knowing his bad habit, I began giving nudges and small kicks to keep him going. And he did. I jogged a few circles each direction before Christina called out, “Everyone going…counter clockwise at the jog!”
I was already going counterclockwise at the jog so I just stayed in my position and didn’t do anything. Three fourths of a circle later, Christina called out, “And circle at the jog.” I turned and clicked, bumping my inside leg back a bit and moving my outside leg forward and bumping. “Good, turn your shoulders.” I turned a bit more to get Tug to turn more. And he did.
I don’t remember much of the order, but I do remember practicing jog-halt-jog transitions and Tug did fairly well in the upward transition, but moving down to a halt, he did creep forward a bit. While doing jogging exercises, Tug sometimes sped up and sometimes slowed down.
Then we did posting jog. It was quite difficult to post Tug’s jog because: 1. his jog is sooooo smooth that I can’t feel the rhythm too well and 2. he kind of slows down, speeds up, slows down…just slightly. He doesn’t do it in a dramatic way but it is hard to post with that. So I had to sit two beats quite a few times and adjust my posting or get him to move faster/slower. Plus my left stirrups felt a tiny bit longer, but I couldn’t fix that. One hole up and it would be shorter than the right one. I just had to live with that. We also did a bit of work without stirrups. It wasn’t hard to sit his nice jog without my stirrups.
Then we did something I’ve never done before. So all the riders rode on the inside and one rider would just lope on the outside. While other people were loping on the outside, I was having a bit of a difficulty with Tug. He was going way too much to the inside. I tried to drag him back at least close enough to the rail, but he refused. Since he was wearing a hackmore, when I tried to pull him over, it just pulled backwards so he slowed down.
Finally it was my turn. I gently asked him to go to the rail and he did. I pulled my heel back and pressed my knee in and kissed. He went off…jogging…I kept pressing and kissing, trying to remember to check everything off. Heels down! Hands low, easy with the reins, bump bump bump! He finally loped. I sat, moving with the lope. Okay…keep your seat light and encouraging! He broke down into a jog again after a few strides. I pressed with my heel again. I made a kissing sound again and he finally went off. “Now kick, kick, kick,” Christina instructed. And I did so. He continued loping. 😀 “Okay, now halt.” I pulled back, sat deeper, “Whooooaa.” “Okay, next time, shorten your reins more.”
Next one was practicing extending the gait. So there were three cones placed in California Speed Barrel-Style. So it was that we had to do an extended trot to the last cone, shorten to a jog and do a small jog in a small circle around the last and the middle cone. Then when we reached the last cone again, we had to do an extended jog in a big circle around the end cones. When we reached the last cone we had to shorten the strides until we returned to the group.
When the first person went, I asked him to move up in the line. He twisted around and backed up, moving into the pattern path. I quickly kicked him to tell him that he was doing it wrong. He quickly complied, knowing that what he did wasn’t something that I wanted. I steered him to the cone and he did it without hesitation. I gave him a big pet.
I prepared myself when it was my turn. I asked him to jog and pushed with my seat and legs until I felt him go fast. I didn’t know if he was in an extended jog or if he was just going fast until Christina said, “Good.” I reached the far cone and sat down deep and pulled back on my reins. He didn’t slow down much, but I kept sitting heavier and heavier and pulling back more until he was slow, “Good.” I continued until the last cone again. I pushed with my legs and seat, steering him around the large circle, trying to get his stride to extend. I made a big circle until the last cone again and slowed him down to a jog. He quickly transitioned to a walk four fifths the way back to the group.
The second time, we had to do the same thing at the lope.
I only had one thought: Would he break down halfway? I only had one answer: Maybe.
It was my turn and I asked for a lope. Surprisingly, he didn’t resist. He just went. I reached the cone. Here it comes! I slowed him down, trying to make sure he didn’t break down. Nope. He broke down half way. I asked him to lope. He didn’t go until the cone. I pushed with my legs and seat to get him to lope. He did when he reached the last cone. I made sure to steer him carefully so he didn’t rush to the group. I pulled him over and around. It was fine. Reaching the cone again, I pulled back gently to ask him to slow down. Halfway back to the group, he abruptly walked..
After that we did cool down, walking around in circles. It was relaxing because Tug actually walked nice and slow (unlike Cisco and Joe!) and it was nice. After a few circles, Christina called out, “Okay, change direction.”
Seeing a nice open spot on the other side of the arena, I cut across the arena. Suddenly all the horse and rider pairs were in the center of the arena, their heads pointed to the center and they just halted. Of course this was by habit but it looked quite funny how all the horses just stood there.
“Okay,” Christina saw what happened and said, “You guys can dismount and hand walk them!”
So I did. It was nice to stretch out and walk him, stretching my muscles out from the ride to make sure they didn’t cramp up. “Okay, help me clean up the cones!” I saw that everyone headed towards a cone, so I halted him and just stood there, scratching him on his neck. Tug just stood there quietly. I led him up to the office and I had to wait. Because of his bridle fixing, someone had to do it without Tug running off without a halter or bridle. So I had to wait.