Thursday, December 28, 2017

Sensitivity and Reactivity

I had a very eye opening lesson yesterday.  Trainer was kind enough to borrow a horse from one of her clients so I could ride something that wasn't Stinker.  The borrowed horse is still quite young, but he is a total champ and made some things quite apparent.

Who me? Reactive?

I absolutely adore Stinker, but I also won't try to convince anyone that he is a straight forward ride.  Not only is he quite sensitive, but he is also very reactive and is prone to over reactions.  He has made huge strides forward, but the borrowed horse demonstrated that we still have a massive distance to go.

Dis is my thinking face

Moving forward leg acceptance is coming back to the forefront.  I can put my leg on Stinker (that used to result in a meltdown), but it is more like a light brush and doesn't leave me with anything to use to press him into the bridle.  I mostly ride with my seat and thighs and don't do much with my calves, because they cause reactivity. I can leg yield Stinker really easily with my thigh, because he is so sensitive and it is great.  On the flip side I can't use my leg because he tends to hollow upward which is not great.


The borrowed horse reminded me the benefit of being able to push a horse forward into the bridle instead of coaxing and praying a lot to get the horse into the bridle.  It was also really nice because the borrowed horse made it very clear that it wasn't just based on sensitivity level (he is a sensitive fellow too) and that Stinker is still over dramatic with his reactions.

React? Never

I have also developed a horrible habit that Stinker and I kind of cover up together.  Stinker likes to let his haunches trail in on the right side.  I am now riding with my hips in such a manner that I am always pushing the haunches out to the left.  Stinker is getting stronger and straighter and I am still sitting the same way, so I really need to work on getting my right hip forward and open more.


This lesson came at a perfect time, because I have been thinking about what goals I want to set for next year and it really helped to solidify some basic holes I want to get filled.  I am so thankful that trainer has enough faith in my riding that she is willing to turn me loose (in a carefully supervised manner) on her client's horse.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that I will be able to hop on some other horses periodically, because as trainer said I need to be reminded on occasion what a horse feels like.

10 comments:

  1. That sounds like a great lesson. Stinker has come a long way and I think he can come even further. Riding other horses is a great way to improve your skill.

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    1. It has been awhile since I've ridden a horse with training. I'm really quite hopeful for Stinker in this next year. I think he is finally in a good place to really start progressing.

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  2. I'm glad you were able to have such a productive lesson on a new horse! :)

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  3. awesome that the trainer had such a cool horse for you to ride and compare to stinker. i know a lot of dressage riders in my world are always saying they want that hyper sensitivity to the leg (compared to me as a jump rider who reeeeeally wants to be able to put my leg ON and keep it there, right or wrong lol) but i think you're right in saying that the hypersensitivity isn't enough on its own if it doesn't come hand in hand with acceptance.

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    1. Sensitive is great when you get the correct answer. But when it results in an undesirable over reaction it isn't so great.

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  4. Lesson horses are so helpful. I miss riding different horses all the time.

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  5. horse =/= caffeinated deer

    But I love that there are horses to help you understand our favorite deer.

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