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We Are Flying Solo

October 10, 2011

Yield, Sir, Yield!

I confess to weariness after a long week and a busy weekend.  My boss and I ran a three day fish meeting in the mountains and that was enough to do us in twice over.

I am sure Encore felt the same way last night, as he spent the weekend hard at work.

Saturday, we met P for our second dressage lesson.  We are attempting to coerce Encore into a shape resembling a leg yield with about 50% success -- either he gets it...or he doesn't.  (Ha, sorry, old statistics joke)

Tracking right, he is beginning to get the gist of things (I recommend full-screening all videos if you want to see what's going on and you have a 'net connection faster than a dead tortoise).  You start on a 20 m circle, then spiral in to encourage the horse to bend.  Make one revolution of your smallest circle, then give the aids to leg yield.  The idea is that the horse will WANT to move back out to the larger circle, as it is much easier.  Use physics as your aid!  I have introduced the concept on the longe and Encore's done reasonably well with it. 

To the left...not so much.  On the circle, it was a FAIL, despite using every aid I knew (if I remember, I'll upload that video tonight).  However, P's bag of tricks is bottomless, so we asked for the leg yield at the walk heading up the quarterline.  While I gave the aids, P walked next to Encore's shoulder, using her energy and a light touch to show him how he was supposed to respond.  With the ground-person-aid, the young 'un finally went Ohhhhhh!  I get it! and lick, lick, chew, he got it and stepped over to the track.

I'm also introducing small bits of canter at the end of a session, just to start building the muscle and balance.  It's certainly not pretty (or comfortable!), but it will be fun to compare three months down the road!  He has a solid right lead, while the left is tougher, as per normal for racehorses (who work to the right, race to the left and are often taught to break from the gate on their right lead, swapping in the first turn).

We used a crossrail with placing poles on both sides, trotting in and cantering out to attempt both leads.  Clever boy would land and if he was on the wrong lead, would swap in one step over the placing pole so he was correctly balanced to turn.  This one is going to be handy with his feet on a jump course!

He reinforced my suspicions when we trailered one county over on Sunday for a trail ride with lifeshighway and Pete.  We got into some steep hills and it only took Encore one slope to figure out how to lift his back and balance on his butt on the way down.  He was careful and patient, never crowding Pete when I asked him to wait, finding safe footholds and making smart decisions.  As he picked through brush and fallen trees, he never panicked at the branches around his legs (face/belly/butt/chest), even on a tough slope where we lost the trail.  Despite catching the terrifying scent of ZOMBIE DEATH COWS around the property, he steadily followed Pete over scary bridges (even the steel ones) and sometimes even led the way with a confident stride.  A fat, juicy bucket of beet pulp, alfalfa, timothy, and rice bran was a well-earned reward back at the trailer!

Sunday night = sleepy pony, sleepy rider.  Alas, no bucket of treats and day off awaited said rider.  Ah well, one out of two's not bad.


  1. Oh, I think I have a tip that you are going to like. Post on the inside diagonal (the "wrong" diagonal) and nudge with you inside leg each time you sit. This will put you in sync with his inside hind. I wrote about lateral work and the posting trot over at my blog. I would love it if you stopped by!

    I will even guarantee you at least a 50% success rate! ;)

  2. He is going to be so fun! I have a training tip too if it's ok. Do your circle near the corner of the arena then start down the long side maintaining the bend at about 10-12 feet from the fence and parallel to it. The fence exerts a magnetic pull and the horse will tend to drift toward it. If you can maintain the bend and the aids you will have the start of leg yield. Horses seem to like being on the rail as much as some riders do and this works well.

  3. Hey, thanks for the tips! Barbara, we don't have an arena fence, so no magnetic pulls. It might work on the barn side though!

    Val, I do come visit there often! I will have to go back and check again.

  4. Oh PS -- we don't have "bend" or "yield to inside leg" yet either, so it's all a very delicate balance, LOL!

  5. Which is better than jumping beans!