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Who Knew the Walk Could be so Hard?

Phew…Sunday’s ride was probably the hardest the two of us have ever worked and it was all at the walk.

Unfortunately Eeyore granted himself a mini vacation after last week’s lesson. Remember how I said he took some really lame steps on the front left after hitting the backside of a jump, spinning left and cantering off to oblivion? Well, he came in the very next morning sans one left front shoe. Best guess is that he twisted that shoe loose during that fun maneuver. The farrier was already scheduled to come out Thursday (will Eeyore ever last a full 5 weeks??? My bank account would like it if he did) so he got time off for that nonsense. Friday we had plans right after work that had us home around 11 pm and then Saturday I was a lump on my couch binge watching my new favorite show, Lucifer, on Netflix. Judge away folks, sometimes this full time working momma needs a day to be a lump.

Nasty nasty hoof. Farrier cleaned him up well, added clips this time and change the type of shoe for like the dozenth time in a year to see if adding more of a cup will relieve any sole tenderness from the hard ground

So Sunday it was and the day dawned blazing hot. There was very little humidity though, so really it was a pleasant morning in the SE. My arena has zero shade and the sun felt like fire burning down (which technically it actually is) which made it the perfect conditions to work on our homework from the lesson. I gave him a brief w/t/c warm up to get the sillies out and test his attitude for the day. He was pleasantly….well…pleasant. He is much happier in the simple single joint full cheek and fights e way less than in the myler I rode him in prior.

My homework was to stop riding him with his nose poking out and begin to introduce the concept of using his hind end and back better and being “on the bit”. During the lesson, Trainer AB had be on a circle around her at the walk, trot and canter and we had some moments of doing it right. At home, I started at the walk and folks…this crap is hard.

Dapples!!! I’m so so so happy to see dapples on him. My last Trainer told me he would never have a healthy coat because he is an Appy. Challenge accepted. All my horses have dapples and shiny, healthy coats. it is a point of pride for me. Took a full year but here he is.

My first issue was in figuring out the circle itself. Apparently my idea of a circle has a lot of angles, sharp turns and straight sides…so yeah not very circlish. It was driving me crazy. My arena is a bit large at 225′ x 135′ which gives me a whole heck of a lot of room to wiggle around and mess it up. I was wishing I had some cones to lay out and circle around. Instead I laid out four ground poles creating two separate chutes on one half of the circle as a visual aide in making the shape and forcing me to be on my own on the other half. It worked pretty well.

Like so.

Back to work we went. Trainer AB keeps telling me that one of our primary goals is to get Eeyore to learn that his feet are not connected to his mouth. Meaning: every single rein aide is not an excuse to slow down, down transition or stop. Getting him to learn to move up into the bridle takes a whole lot of concentration on my part as any increase in rein contact generally signals him to slow his feet. It is a lot of tiny adjustments as we go along and right now all of it takes a lot of concentration and mental effort on my part to get it down. When I manage to add the right amount of inside leg to keep him bending, trap his outside with my outside leg and rein, use a little outside leg at the right moment to keep him moving forward, and still ask with my hands for him to round up and give to the bit, we get it right and the feeling is pretty amazing. When I don’t? We fumble a lot. But that is what practicing is all about, isn’t it?

Someone has decided that loading is now optional. It is not. I’ve left the trailer hooked up and parked in the barn yard since Monday last week and every day we have worked on loading. We will continue to work on loading at meal time every day until he decides that self loading is a thing that happens no matter what. we are nearly there.

I started off to the left which is our easier side and really I was quite pleased with it. It took a lot of figuring out all my aides, how much pressure to use, and when to apply and release but eventually I managed an entire circle at the walk. Eeyore has zero concept of self carriage and I’m a bit stuck on just how much release to give him when he gives me what I want without allowing him to immediately lose it all, so the circle looked a lot like a few strides correct, losing it, a few strides to get it back, a few strides correct etc…The thing I was most excited about was how quickly he gave me what I was asking for. In the lesson, he was not quite sure what I was wanting and it would take a lot of ask to get it, but on Sunday it took just a whisper. Even through all the mental effort, I was grinning. It will take a lot of work to gain the strength and ability to carry it longer, but we will get there.

I stuck to just the walk this time. I tried it at the trot, but honestly things just came up faster plus he is even more prone to down transition when life gets to be too much work in the trot, so that added effort stretched my abilities a bit too thin. Rather than stress him out or start confusing us both, I went back to the walk and then called it a day. By the time we ended it had been a good 40 minutes of effort and we were both soaked with sweat t the point my undies were damp. Too much info??? I’m dangerously teetering on the edge of wanting to drill the snot out of this until we get it right…but I know that won’t be productive in the long run especially with Eeyore who can get pretty stubborn about things he doesn’t enjoy. He is a 100% different horse when he decides to play along versus when he gets sullen and bored. The great thing about him is that lessons tend to stick super well once they do break through his thick skull so while right now is a bit of a struggle, I know that once the light bulb comes on it will stay on for good.

17 thoughts on “Who Knew the Walk Could be so Hard?”

  1. Walk work IS so hard. I think because you don’t have as much momentum helping you. But it’s great you’re working on this and it’ll only get easier!
    Also, your last trainer sounds like someone I would really struggle with.

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    1. You are right. The slower pace makes this a bit harder. The trot requires faster reaction times and right now I’m still at kindergarten level and the added pace melts the brain a bit. The rounding up is proving the easier part. It’s keeping him bent and on the circle that’s hard for me

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  2. Walk work is something I tend to neglect, because… well, the thought of it is sorta boring. But I do think the walk is very important, and when I force myself to work on it I actually end up really enjoying it. But it is HARD. haha. I really noticed a difference when Tanta was on a strict rehab program and we were only allowed to walk. I hear you with the “every single rein aide is not an excuse to slow down, down transition or stop.” That’s pretty much what Tanta thinks. It’s hard for me to remember to ride her forward to my hands from my legs rather than just snatching with my hands like I want to! Lol
    P.s. love H’Appy’s dapples!,

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    1. Eeyore can be a bit tricky in that one ride he will be a forward moving beast that I constantly have to work on slowing down and the next he is a slug that needs more leg than I possess to move at all. Combine those days with his inclination to take any excuse to slow or walk and ugh…it can be really difficult and exhausting.

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  3. ugh we work on the walk a TON bc charlie thinks it’s stupid lol… UNLESS, obvi, we’re walking back to the barn. in which case he strides out like a lithe supple sinuous beastie….. one of these days i’m going to invent a rotating dressage court so that, no matter where you are in your pattern, which direction you’re going, the arena automatically rotates so the horse’s nose is always pointed toward home LOL

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    1. With how hot it was I couldn’t really do a whole lot of aerobic work and not feel guilty. By doing collected walk work at least he still got a good work out even if his heart rate stayed lower

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  4. Walk work is definitely hard! Plus, learning how to carry oneself on the bit, on the aids, and stepping underneath with the inside hind is HARD work! I think of it like weightlifting, as they need to develop the muscles needed to stay in the contact comfortably. Ellie has finally gotten to the point she is consistently on the bit at the walk and trot. It took A LOT of mental work from me it felt like haha. The canter is harder and is taking more time. My instructor likes to remind me not to give everything away when she is carrying herself correctly and allow her traveling correctly to be the reward. I tend to get too light in the contact when she is on the bit properly and nearly drop the contact, which starts the process all over again because she is like WHERE DID YOU GO? 😉

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    1. Exactly me! He gives to the bit and travels nicely and I’m all like “must give release as reward” and then there he goes off all hollow again. It’s hard but I’m so excited to be working on it!

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  5. Lucifer is the best show!!!!! Milton and I watched it when it was on FOX and I think I cried when they canceled it. Thankfully Netflix realized it’s amazingness!!!!

    And uggh!! this heat!!! Though this winter we might be wishing it was summer again 😉

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    1. It’s addicting! Netflix extended the last season by 6 episodes and I’m so excited. I’m only only season 2 though.

      I’ll take heat over cold any day. Not sure Eeyore agrees but there is something to say for him melting and behaving because it is too hot to do anything else. Im curious to see how he acts once it cools off again. Last winter was interesting

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  6. Sounds like a great lesson. And I giggled at that last bit about wanting to drill the snot out of the exercise but not doing it because Eeyore is stubborn – you both are! 😉 Which is gonna make y’all unstoppable with whatever discipline you tackle. 🙂

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  7. The walk is a lot of work, its one of the easiest gaits to shut down or neglect because of it’s ambling nature, but so much stuff can be worked on in the walk! I hope you enjoy Lucifer it’s an entertaining tv show that only slightly resembles the comic lol

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