Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Lesson... with Spurs!

My weekly lessons are now on Tuesdays.

He was better tonight than he has been for a while now. He was cranky in the stall (but he DID have vaccinations today) and kind of hot for the first few laps, but still better. It always helps to have eyes on the ground telling you what to do.

Before the lesson I stopped at Rods and finally bought western spurs. I got clover leaf rowels and I think I got the 1 3/4" shank (bottom of picture) but they seemed a lot more like the 2 1/8" when I tripped over them three times.... :) KAT said her clover leafs are enough to get his attention but that I could get the 9-point if I wanted to. I generally don't like to use spurs because I fear that I'll use them incorrectly but I was really surprised that I was able to use them when I wanted to and just use my leg/heel to cue when I wanted to. I only gave him one accidental jab and it wasn't hard. He was having one of his moments where he wanted to do a shoulder-in instead of walk straight along the wall and my attempts to straighten him were not working so I meant to give him a pop with both heels and felt the spurs slide off his sides. Oooops. Junior responded really well to the spurs, though. I was also pleasantly surprised that I could feel how much pressure I was using on the spur and that I could use the spur without torquing my heel up. With the POW spurs I normally use I have a hard time telling if I'm making contact with the spur or not. I've only had western spurs on one other time and they were those loooong shanks with a "humane" ball on the end. I was terrified when the trainer put them on me but I just had to tell that mare I was wearing them and she became much more responsive. When you grow up on psycho-sensitive Arabs you generally don't need spurs so I've only been using them the last year or so.

We're still wonky at the lope but it was better with KAT reminding me how to straighten him. The spur really helped keep him at the lope and I had much less leg fatigue not having to lift my ankle to make contact with the POW spurs. I still think I should be able to ask him to lope and that he should lope until I tell him to do something different. Not keep that spur into his side the whole time. Maybe this is on the road to cue-and-leave-alone just like we do with headset and other gaits, but I think it's kind of a western thing. Just one more of those things I will try to understand eventually.

Towards the end KAT came up and said "Do you trust me?" and though I was confused I said "Uh, yeah?" She took the reins from me and crossed them under his neck and then gave them back to me. She explained what that was going to do....but it still didn't make a ton of sense. Essentially it combines my action of neck reining with one hand with the direct reining he gets when I'm two handed. She said she does that every so often and gets really funny looks, and volunteer shouts from people in warm-up pens at shows, but that it works...somehow. I don't get it, but I DO trust her. It didn't work so hot when he'd over bend because I had no way to crank him back over. We jogged that way and did a few laps of lope which were not terribly successful, but it was his bad lead after all.

I'm am tired. I'm expounding a LOT of energy (mostly mental) at work right now so the extra effort for an hour's lesson is kind of tough.... Is it May yet?!?

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