Long time coming, An update on Gracie and myself

Good Morning all!

It has been a while since I have posted here, so I will take advantage of the biblical rain that we have been receiving and catch you up on Gracie and my progress.

This post will be focused on our major point of contention right now. Cantering.

As you know, Gracie has a bit of an attitude when cantering…  she will take a stride then pop up, then another stride and add in a little buck,  sometimes she gets really upset and starts to throw herself around…

While this has not been very helpful in our team’s progress toward winning ribbons at competitions; it has certainly helped me develop a much stronger seat. The lessons Gracie has taught me have already served me well in competition.

Back in April we competed at our first competition off site.  We had a bit of a rough start in the stadium course. This involved a loose girth and a saddle that LITERALLY rotated to the side of the horse. I knew that if I got off to tighten the girth I would be eliminated and that was not an option. I took stock, straightened the saddle and decided to push on.  With a loose girth I had no faith in the saddle not slipping around again and, we had six jumps to clear in order to finish.  Here is where Gracie’s lessons about my seat saved the day.  The entire stadium round I glued my butt to the saddle. Heels down, ankles, hips and, shoulders all in line.  My spine was the glue holding that saddle in place.  We rode to the base of each jump and there was no “jumping position”.   When we finished I got off and checked the girth.  Sure enough, I could fit my hand comfortably between it and the horse.

Thanks for the trials by fire Gracie, YOU got us through that one.

Not long ago the vet came to visit the barn for yearly check ups and vaccinations. It turns out that Gracie’s poor teeth were in need of some attention. Amanda was curious how she would respond to the bit with fresh dental work, since poor dental care can affect their attitude. The next Tuesday was my regular riding lesson with an instructor so, I was interested to see how Gracie was feeling. We did the usual warm up of walk and trot both directions until we both settled in. Then I decided to ask for a canter from a plodding medium trot.  Lo and behold we actually had a smooth departure! I started think that all our problems were solved. Then a couple strides in she picked her head up and started throwing it around. She became very unbalanced and we got back to the trot.  Maybe it wasn’t her teeth causing issues. Even though she does seem more accepting of the bit at the walk and trot.

Hmmmm, maybe I am just to big?  Maybe I am sending mixed signals with my weight?  She only gets out of sorts when I get bounced around in the saddle.  I wonder what happens if I ask for a canter while off of her back. Let’s try asking from a half seat.

Off we go, establish a nice medium trot and get up in a half seat…. ask and, BOOM! The departure was a little rough. Was it because she expected my weight to be there?  Did I give extra leg when I got to my position?  who knows… Either way, we are cantering and her head is down!  One, two, three strides and no attitude. We make it two laps around the arena before her shoulder starts to drop in. No bucks, no head tossing, no attitude at all! Looks like we found out how to get her to canter nicely.

I still have no idea why she gets upset when I sit the canter but, there is always more to learn. Hopefully Gracie and I can continue to figure out this canter thing. At the next competition our canter circles will not be our downfall.

All in all, Gracie and I have had a spring full of learning and lessons.  I hope a recap of the summer has just as much progress to report.

Bonus pictures:

Gracie in her fancy leopard tail bag

Schooling X-country

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