Posted by: shannonc | July 28, 2009

Flunking out of french link

I like to start reports with something positive, so today I will say Sarah and Buck looked pretty amazing in our lesson! 


You probably noticed, because you are an ubersmart reader, that there’s no mention of any little paint ponies in there. 

It’s not so bad, really, even if it is a bit funny.  The little pony and I are getting back on our feet after the better part of two weeks without work.  On the flat he has been fairly good.  The canter is still difficult, especially the left canter.  It’s falling more in the realm of fixation than fixed ;) – the transition up continues to be not pretty and I still need a little counterbend to get it, which means I have a good amount of reorganizing to do once we’re in the gait, because I lose the left shoulder even more with the counterbend.  The good news is that he is willing to get reorganized and we can actually produce a nice quality canter, for more strides than we used to be able to.  Also, he is becoming much more prompt into the transition and in general is more in front of my leg.  I’m really pleased about this piece.  Since I’ve been breaking my half halts into two strides, check in the first and leg in the second, he seems to be understanding what I’m asking for more clearly, which is helping especially in the trot work, where he wants to be behind the vertical, low and pulling, or hollow, and changes among these with great facility.  Sitting on top of this feels a lot like a rider’s game of Whack a Mole.  I just hope the practice he’s so kindly giving me is resulting in the development of better riding!

So, yes, today we went for a jump lesson.  The Miracle Bit is not producing any miracles for me, so I left it at home and rode in the Myler french link.  Or, rather, I made an effort to. 

It’s just so strange to have this problem we have, where he’s running off.  Of all the things I thought I was signing up for when I started riding this pony, too much forward didn’t even make the list.  He still shies at the jumps being set up, but once they’re there, look out, because the pony will try to take you to them.  Sometimes I have to laugh.  Anyway, I’ve been saying I think some of this is a balance issue, and I still think that.  But it’s becoming apparent that some of it is that he’s blowing me off.

We actually left the ring after jumping the first crossrail.  Three strides in front, there goes the pony, as if it’s an Olympic size crossrail.  I decided I better pull him up completely, and ten strides later I got my halt – on the grass outside the arena.  Uh huh. 

After this, there is some review of the things I need to be doing – don’t be too quick in the air, don’t look for the big spots, put him together right away on landing, use sharp aids to regain the balance if needed, but don’t hold.  Most of which we agree I’m doing pretty consistently.  So I go off on course, and we get around, but I’m really getting dragged.  I’m told I’m not asking badly, but he isn’t listening very well.  The next discussion is about what do I have in his mouth, and concludes with the suggestion that maybe I should look around for something different for next week (by next week, we mean Friday, when we have another lesson, because we’re competing Sunday).  Like a pelham.  This produces flashbacks of riding Blue Prelim with four reins.  It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done either.  Okay, well, if I need to try it, I need to try it.  And I get sent out on another course. 

“I’m not jumping that!” I hear Sarah saying behind me as I’m starting. 

“I’m not looking,” I say.  I figure the program on this course is see if the pony will cooperate a bit better if the jumps get bigger.  This has been the case in the past.  And the jumps need to be going up for us anyway, as we have some idea of doing BN before the season ends.  But my eye is not adjusted to the new height yet, it does still look big, so it’s better if I don’t pay too much attention. 

Well, the pony didn’t stop.  I think he may have cleared the standards though.  I’m not sure, because at the end of the course, the person I would have asked was disappearing into the barn.  When she reappeared, she was holding a bridle.

Yeah.  So officially flunking out of the french link today.  Not next week.  Now, as in, dismount and put this on.  I felt like I was in a Lucinda clinic, except Lucinda just brings the bit and changes it without any bridle removal.

The bit is a Segunda.  It has a big old port in the middle.  The one in this picture from Bit of Britain looks pointy on the bottom, and I don’t remember any points on the one I used today, so maybe there are some variations.  I was told that if he pulls down on it, he will put pressure on his tongue.

I had to play around with it some once he figured out it was there – take too much or hold too long and it’s too much whoa.  I needed to just close my fingers, then release right away and support with my leg.  It allowed me to be so much softer.  No teeth removal gymnastics required.  He fussed a little the first time he felt it and again once when I used too much, and he tried all his tricks on it, and then he just settled down and let me ride him.  The jumps got better, easier, and he seemed pretty happy.  I’m Googling it a little now and seeing some comments that it is a lot of hardware, but I definitely didn’t feel that he was uncomfortable, worrying, or unhappy – he didn’t curl, he didn’t flip his head or run off.  I’ll use it again Friday and keep focusing on riding with a lot of sensitivity, and see what happens.  I’m guessing that it may be the kind of thing you put on a few times to help the horse (er, naughty little pony) understand what you’re looking for, and then don’t necessarily need anymore.  In conjunction with continuing to improve the flatwork, it may be the ticket for us right now.

Silly pony.  Now.  To enter King Oak or GMHA, or not to enter them?  That is the next question!



  1. It was QUITE a remarkable difference after using the new bit. It was like – HEY….he’s LISTENING :)

    And, I gotta say, I had a GREAT chuckle after the olympic sized cross rail! He was eager to get back to the regularly scheduled program!!!!!

  2. :D

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