Sunday, February 3, 2013

Rev under saddle

James owed me a favor, so yesterday he accompanied me to the stable and acted as my personal photographer while I rode Rev.
My riding career has been full of long stretches without a trainer.  During those periods, I've often used photos as a way of allowing me to be my own eyes on the ground.  Yesterday's pictures confirmed a lot of things--both good and bad--that I'd already suspected about how Rev and I are doing. 
When I first started riding Rev, it was a real struggle to get him to do a flat, four beat walk.  He still has a tendency to jig, but we've made great strides as far as his walk work goes. 
I wish he wasn't so far behind the vertical here and I don't know what's up with my chair seat, but I really, really like the way he's stepping up under himself with those back leg.  This is the main thing I hope to teach him--to relax his back and use his back end. 
Onto the trot!  Unfortunately, this is a pretty typical moment for us at this stage. 
 See?  Here it is again--head behind the bit, front legs waving in the air and back end trailing.
I've been trying to get him to relax into a quieter, more balanced gait.
Some days, he does this quite well, but yesterday was a bit of a struggle.  Saturdays are busy at this barn, and Rev was distracted by all the commotion.  Still, we did manage a few nice moments.
I haven't cantered Rev much, as I'm really trying to concentrate on his walk and trot.  
I made an exception yesterday mostly because I wanted a few pictures.  As you can see, he has a tendency to get all rev'ed up (ha ha)... 
and lose the lead behind.  If anyone ever needs a bunch of cross canter reference pictures, just let me know.  After yesterday's photo session, I seem to have a plethora...
So, that's where we are one month into our acquaintance.  There's still lots of room for improvement, but we're getting there.  Rev is a consistently cheerful and willing partner and riding him makes me smile!
I feel very fortunate to have found myself another good lease situation.  I look forward sharing our progress together in the months to come.


  1. He's a cute horse! You guys seem to work well together.

  2. He is striking! You guys look great together!

  3. It will be fun to see your improvement. I've been working with a friesian/draft cross mare who was trained to harness and has been used under saddle for only about 2/3 years. She doesn't like to canter under saddle and i have lots of moments like your's and rev's :) She only really want to go on her right lead and often cross fires when I ask her to move to the left.
    She's a huge pain in the butt most of the time but her personality makes up for it and it's been fun seeing her progress.

    Also if you have some small jumps or ground poles to trot over might help him concentrate. We have a very hot horse at our barn but when he really has to think about where his legs are or is going in a pattern that he doesn't know he calms down a lot. Plus going over poles might help Rev get used to going in a more balanced way since he has to watch where his feet land.

  4. You're guilty of what I do if I haven't had lessons for a while. Remember the vertical line that should exist between head, shoulder, elbow, hip and heel. That should involve you sitting much more upright, having your shoulder back and really being able to push him forward, engaging his hind legs more. Should also help him to move forward into the bridle and become more on the bit. And I also agree some grid work may help him sort his strides out a little and also step under himself more with his hind legs.

  5. Love the matching bangs in the first photo

  6. Love the two redheads in that top picture!

  7. Doing great with Rev! I really want to see how you guys are a month from now if you extended your lease!

    Also, I went riding yesterday and it was 20 degrees fahrenheit along with several inches of snow!

  8. He's a cute little guy! I have a soft spot for Arabs, and he looks like he's going to be fun for you

  9. Looking at this post really makes me miss giving lessons! I'll take this opportunity to offer my insight and enter your contest too.

    I notice the same thing that Four Corners Tack did: try to sit up straight and keep your shoulders back. Sit deeper in your saddle, don't arch your back, and make sure you are on your seat bones not your crotch. Now do all of that while remaining relaxed and supple (sounds impossible I know). Relaxation of your horse starts with you being relaxed.

    It might just be the winter gear but your saddle looks like it could be a little small for you preventing you from getting a good position. Take that with a grain of salt since I can't really see from the photos.

    As far as the back end trailing and the frame of your horse, all of that needs to come from your legs. Your arms appear stiff and your reins look much too short to me. Make sure you aren't trying to PULL your horse into a frame from the bit. Try to lengthen your reins and push him up into the bit from your leg.

    You might try warming up at the walk without stirrups and just working on sitting deep and letting your hips and hands follow the horse. It's a nice meditation. Then pickup your stirrups and try not to change your body position. Periodically go back to that during your session to recalibrate your position and relaxation.

    The last thing I'll say is a lot of people are giving you great advice but don't try to fix everything at once. Just concentrate on one thing at time. When I school I pick some days to work on me and some days to work on the horse and then make a small goal for that session. That keeps me from feeling like everything is an insurmountable mess.