Riding/Horses

“Trainer” Ride on Gem

I went into Wednesday’s lesson curious to see if the confidence Gem showed over solid obstacles would cross over into the arena. Of course the fact that I didn’t ride her at all in the intervening two weeks wouldn’t help anything but it has been a very stressful couple of weeks. I learned a long time ago that I have no business throwing a leg over her if I can’t leave my emotions at the barn gate.

While I was tacking up Trainer mentioned that one of her star barn rats was there and could ride her a little before I got on. I was 100% down with that idea. Honestly, if I could afford it I would love to put Gem in a full training program but I can’t and besides that would defeat the purpose of bringing her home.

Gem was a bit perplexed why someone else was on her. She kept looking over at me with a quizzical look on her face

Trainer was interested in watching one of her best riders hop on board to sort out what were “Gem problems” versus “Sara problems”. The young woman worked Gem walk, trot and canter for about 20 minutes and then popped her over a few jumps at my request. Trainer had her work specifically on accepting that leg means more than go forward as well as the quality of the canter.

Some highlights:

Young lady’s leg position was the same as mine. Trainer remarked that her right leg was more forward and off Gem exactly like mine is and noted that Young Lady (YL) doesn’t ride like that on any other horse. She thinks this is in part physics: with Gems very round barrel and skinny girth area the leg gravitates forward easily. She asked YL why her leg was there and she answered that that was where Gem wanted it.

Gem was pretty relaxed for her at the walk which is something I’ve been working hard on and it has been coming along nicely. 

Gem responded much better to YLs more upright posture. I tend to still lean forward while YL had a gorgeous upright and sometimes slightly leaning back position. While Gem still tended to become tense and hollow she relaxed quicker and more frequently.

Gem was very tense through a lot of the trot work. She did have moments of relaxation throughout and YL was able to get some true bend on  20 m circle. It was nice to listen to Trainer tell her to do the same things and watch to see YL’s and Gem’s response. 

YL commented that keeping the outside rein constant and having a give and take inside rein creates more bend in Gem.

YL got a lovely canter out of Gem. And then promptly lost all ability to steer. Ok…not gonna lie I felt vindicated when this happened. Trainer is always on me for steering and now looked at me and said “huh…I guess that is solidly a Gem problem”.

YLs position is awesome in the canter and what I strive for. While Gem is gaping and tense, she did put forth an actual canter that was wasn’t motorcycling around. 

YL never got the right lead canter. I have but it is difficult.

Unhappy Gemmie begin asked to do real work. 

Gem stopped at the first cross rail she was presented to. Yup, this made me feel good too although bad because YL almost ate dirt. Gem just has to stop at the first jump she sees.

Where did this jump come from??? Moments before slamming on the breaks

At the end YL said that Gem was extremely hard to ride. Her trot was amazing and floating but she tolerates minimal leg on her, her canter is decent but then she motorcycles around on two legs and she needs a ton of support to jump. All things I knew but now Trainer also knew it wasn’t just me. YL didn’t offer up to ride her again, but also didn’t hate her. I personally love riding Gem, but I’ve been doing so for 7 years and know her inside and out.

From the ground I learned a lot myself. For starters Gem is gorgeous. I never get to see her all tacked up and moving and just….wow. Second, when her rider was unforgiving in her position Gem responded by relaxing and giving on her end. I need to cement this in my brain. She really can canter at a pace less than 100 mph and it is time to really start working on that.

What was the most interesting to me though was watching her jump. She has been over that same cross rail dozens of times now. YL presented her off a long approach and had plenty of leg on her. Gem still stopped and I could tell she was going to several strides away and the reason was obvious from the ground. Miss Busy Bee spends the entire time looking everywhere. She looks right, left, up, down and probably behind her if she could manage it. I know what she is doing. She is looking for anything she should be spooking at. She does this on trail too.

By the time you get to the jump and she sees it, she is right on top of it and slams on the breaks. The second time to it she understands the game and plans for it, but the first time even with walking her over or letting her sniff it, she still stops because mare is looking everywhere but straight ahead at the jump.

Anyone know a cure for that?

14 thoughts on ““Trainer” Ride on Gem”

  1. It’s always interesting when someone else rides your horse. The take away of staying firm and she will come to you is a good one.
    when I look at her canter it looks unbalanced to me which is probably why it’s difficult to steer.

    As for teh looking straight ahead I have no words of wisdom other then maybe a trot pole a few strides before the jump to get her looking where she’s supposed to.

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    1. Yeah her canter is pretty awful. I rarely ever canter her mostly because it is awful and I’m not sure what to do about it. We have finally gotten her rhythm and balance to a nice place in the trot and I’m hoping that helps us move into canter now.

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  2. Man, if I knew the cure, I’d share it with you in a heartbeat. Whoever finds it first has to tell the other one, k? But I personally love vindication, even at the other person’s expense. Super mean, I know, but the last thing you want is to have all these issues, then someone else gets on and the horse goes perfect. Talk about a confidence buster, I also think it helps the trainer get a better idea of how to help going forward as well if they can feel the issues themselves.

    Sometime we should get together and switch rides!

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    1. That would be fun! If I find a solution I’ll for sure let you know. It is mean to feel that way but I honestly was hoping she wouldn’t just melt into this perfect horse. If ray had happened I would have crawled into a hole.

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  3. Boy, I’m stupid. I’ve never scrolled down far enough to find the comment area. I see the previous post and stop there . . .
    I’m special.
    Cantering without zooming has taken us five years to develop. Five years. But, I think we finally have it, especially since we were able to canter with contact, using our back and butt on trail last weekend without trying to be the race horse. I do understand the struggle.

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  4. Dang! What an awesomely insightful ride. It’s really cool that another rider had so many similar issues – I totally understand your vindication feelings. And man, I totally get that looking everywhere thing, too. Q is that way, but I’m training it out of her now (tho not over jumps).

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  5. It’s so educational to watch our own horses be ridden by someone else. I laughed out loud at the moments where YL faced the same struggles you do. Sometimes it really is something the *horse* needs to work on 🙂 That must have been super rewarding.

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  6. that must have been fascinating to watch! and in some ways pretty validating to see a lot of similar issues crop up with a different rider. but hey, that knowledge is power now, right? hopefully it’s given you and trainer some fresh ideas for continuing the great progress you’ve already made with Gem.

    re: the looking everywhere but the jump issue, resulting in the horse being overly surprised by the jump, we practiced something with charlie early on that might be worth chatting about with your trainer. in a lesson, my trainer set up a variety of appropriately sized fences strewn willy nilly about the ring. and i was directed to just cruise around from one to the next, in no particular set order, but without dawdling in between either. jump one, turn, go to the next, jump, turn, find another, rinse repeat. the idea being: get the horse really focused in on the fact that i’m changing stuff up, that he needed to pay attention bc we weren’t just doing the same old predictable stuff. and that he didn’t actually know where he was going from one moment to the next and had to rely on me for his information. it was an interesting (and fun!) exercise!

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    1. I will mention that to Trainer and see what she thinks. We have tried ground poles before but that just made Gem angry like we tricked her or something. What’s odd is that at the show she didn’t stop one time although we did basically walk over several.

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