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.
When I put my leg on without giving away the connection (okay fine I’ll be honest, throwing it away) Murray responds by
- moving his haunches over
- going sideways
- slowing down (are you freaking kidding me??!)
- going sideways the other way
- making his steps even tinier
- 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.