angry pretzel

Poor Murray was very disturbed to be taken out of retirement once again and put back to work. When I got to his stall on Tuesday he was like “who are you? stranger danger. don’t touch me. go away.”

no touching. also, i don’t eat hay any more only GREEN PASTURE GRASS aka crack. also go away.

He settled reasonably well under saddle and was forward and happy trotting around on a loose rein for warm up. Once we got back to our pre-hiatus homework was when the objections came out.

Both Kate and my trainer recently emphasized the importance of correct walk-trot transitions recently. I am utterly awful about transitions, especially walk-trot transitions. I’m not strict about them, and Murray doesn’t like them. So he does weird shit when I ask for them, especially when I insist on some semblance of throughness during them, and I back off and go back to accepting crappy transitions.

I’m trying to insist on correctness in those transitions from the very start of the ride, and not have to work up to it quite so much. And that’s when the angry pretzel came out.


this pretzel

When I put my leg on without giving away the connection (okay fine I’ll be honest, throwing it away) Murray responds by

  1. moving his haunches over
  2. going sideways
  3. slowing down (are you freaking kidding me??!)
  4. going sideways the other way
  5. making his steps even tinier
  6. stopping all together

It’s kindof a “pick any and all that apply” kind of situation. And Murray gets so tense and balled up that it feels like all of his fascial lines are tangled up inside his body and there’s no clear path let him put one foot in front of the other. It’s not a great feeling. Can’t feel great for Murray, either.

I unilaterally decided that we wouldn’t quit until Murray was back on board with the leg == go part of the equation.


AWW LOOK WHO IS LEARNING ABOUT CONNECTION

It took a while. Like, a real while. Murray used a bunch of environmental factors as excuses in addition to his standard angry pretzel moves. The wind rustled some trees outside the arena so he farted and bucked and squealed and ran away. Trainer was lunging a baby horse and the whip cracked and so he scooted and inverted.

And I just tried to not give up on asking correctly. Do you know how many ways there are for me to enable Murray’s crappy trot transitions? LIKE MILLIONS. THERE ARE MILLIONS OF WAYS FOR ME TO FORK THOSE UP.

So it was all “keep sitting up” and “don’t give up the leg until you get the right response” and “keep your fingers closed” and “don’t let your core get floppy” and then, and then, and then.

chipping away at sucking less

But you know what the cool thing about being incredibly, insanely, pedantically consistent in how you ask your horse to do transitions? The transitions get a lot better. Noticeably so, in even a couple of days.

On Wednesday, there was only one angry pretzel sideways moment. By Friday, there was no angry pretzel. Just a very slightly evasive pony with average, mostly-forward movement.

Of course, I slipped back into some old bad habits in the process (pitching forward, letting my legs slide back). So now I have another thing to add to my list of what not to do while trying to nail these transitions.

8 thoughts on “angry pretzel”

  1. Transitions are hard, yo! Frankie also got very pretzel-y when we started insisting on better transitions, and we spent a full hour figuring out ways to prevent him from just jetting off sideways. He’s pretty chill and resigned himself to it fairly quickly, but it was a funny few rides- he isn’t usually so resistant so we were all laughing at his uncharacteristic opinions.

    Like

  2. Ugh I feel like I’m constantly in this cycle of doing crappy transitions until a trainer sees them and then tells me to stop, then I practice them until they’re good, but then they’re good so I don’t work on them and they get shitty again. Why is dressage so hard?

    Like

  3. I just found your bog and Murray sounds so very very much like my mare. I now the angry pretzel very very well HA! It is not a good feeling leading up to a fence. Plus I have experienced the “yup I got this” right up until the base and then the slamming “nope”. I feel for you!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s