Can I get an order of coordination with a side of balance?

Today I want to talk about coordination and balance – two things that often seem to desert us as we age. I noticed this recently when the VLC was having a stubborn streak (I caaaaan’t go forward with a bit in my mouth, I caaaaan’t, I caaaaan’t) and I really needed to carry a whip and/or smack him with the end of the reins.

Well, I felt like I needed three arms. If I reached back to whack him on the butt, it was like I simultaneously lost my balance and didn’t know how to steer all at the same time. I’d whack him on the butt to move him out of the balk but then he’d veer toward the middle before I could gather my reins back up and react. Now, bear in mind this is a Quarter Horse who really has to be ridden “pitched away” – aka on a very long, loose rein. I cannot, as I would on a Thoroughbred, simply grab up my reins so that they are short and I have more control. (But then, a Thoroughbred would probably not be balking in the first place!) He does move off of leg – when he wants to. I need to fine-tune the moving off of leg part so that I can ride him the way he needs to be ridden (aka all leg/seat and no hands) but in the meantime, he just needs to keep going forward and deal with the fact there is a bit in his mouth. So I decided to just go back to the round pen and that actually worked great. I didn’t worry about steering – I just worried about keeping our forward momentum. Once you get the forward, they pretty much have to go to the wall in the round pen. He still wants to put his head on the ground, but he really isn’t making the fussy faces about the bit that he used to.

Yeah, yeah, I know. He needs his mane done big time. Anyway, I bet I’m not the only person having these balance/coordination issues so what have you done that has helped? I keep hearing yoga and want to try to start that when my schedule eases up. What else?
Then I did the first “real” ride on Bessie. I’ve been on her and she’s eaten hay and ignored me but today we took her and the baby to the round pen and, with Stephanie as my ground person, we walked both ways and reversed. Bessie was fine, but we have established there is no response whatsoever to leg. None. I suspect her riding was limited to “follow the leader” trail rides, which I am pretty sure I could do with her tomorrow. She doesn’t react at all to the saddle, cinching, flopping all over on her back, etc. But when it comes to the aids? She’s clueless. The only way we got forward motion is Stephanie giving her a tug, or Stephanie beckoning to her…”come on Bessie, come here!” LOL.

We had a bit of a laugh about this – I remember Mugwump’s blog about how, when she worked for the Big K, she was supposed to get on the first ride and lope off. We would all like to see someone get on Bessie and lope off. Josie said she would not bet money on my being able to make her trot. I think we are going to have to work on longeing to teach voice commands and get some fitness level on this mare. She’s quite, um, well-fed, and had a sweat mark from the girth after 10 minutes of walking with a rider. šŸ™‚

See, this is why I think Thoroughbreds are easy. You always have “forward” with Thoroughbreds!

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Published in: on August 3, 2008 at 5:19 am  Leave a Comment  

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