Monday, October 22, 2012

Imperfect Photo

My husband came with me to the barn yesterday, armed with the camera.  The weather was gorgeous and the farm decidedly empty and peaceful.

Happy day!

Unfortunately, perfect conditions do not guarantee that your horse with allergies will have a clear day.  Harley's cough was bothering him yesterday, despite my long-term efforts to mitigate his hyper-immune response.  I had to cut the ride and the photo shoot short.  This makes me sad for many reasons, especially when he trots off like he wants to work even though he is not feeling 100%.  I like to celebrate the good stuff that we are doing on this blog, because there are some days that we are stuck in the starting gate.  I did have some time in the saddle, so I should not complain.  Thank goodness I am not really interested in showing, because how could I sign up for a show when I cannot predict if he will be coughing that day?

Since we had an imperfect day, I decided to share an imperfect photo. 

Does this count as expressive?

I believe this was our first walk to canter transition in this direction.  Obviously, there is a lot to be improved here.  I know that we are capable of a much better transition.  What we lack in finesse, we make up for in effort.  That is Harley's "game face" by the way.  I still think it is cute.

Prior to this transition, I did not engage Harley's walk enough to place his outside hind under his center of gravity, allowing him to lift his front end smoothly into canter.  The walk to canter transition requires coordination, suppleness, and strength.  I enjoy practicing the transitions that skip a gait for just that reason.  Although Harley was not quite in the position to perform an elegant, controlled transition, he still went for it.  This is his nature.  He used brute force to make the transition happen, which required that he also flip his head and neck up.  He was compensating for not having his weight over his outside hind (my fault).  I admire the roundness of his back behind the saddle and those flexing muscles.  They don't call them quarter horses for nothing!

I have been working on keeping my seat more firmly closed in the transitions, so I am happy that I have accomplished that in this "imperfect" snapshot and that my inside foot is forward, encouraging the left lead.  I would like to see my hands side by side, but I am glad that I have not surrendered my elbows.  It is possible that Harley was expecting me to give up my position, so that he could throw his neck forward into the gait.  I wanted up in the canter, which he can do.  A clear picture is important even if this one isn't exactly pretty. 

Training is a process with many imperfect photos along the way.

Rebalancing for the second stride

What a difference one stride can make!


  1. Every ride is a learning ride for us as riders and our horses. Is every ride perfect, of course not, but those are the days when we really learn something. No time spent on the back of a horse is ever wasted. Hope Harley is feeling better soon.

  2. I loved the pictures, perfect or not. I hope Mr.Harley's cough gets better :/

  3. I wish I had your feel - I never have any idea of what leg is where at any given time. I will never get it, I got into dressage to late in life to pick it up :-(
    Poor Harley, I suppose he couldn't stay the perfect ten forever, he had to have an off day. Hopefully it won't last long.

    1. Wow, thanks. That is a very nice compliment.

      Maybe you just haven't found the exercise the clicks for you yet. I like to teach the belly swing. When his belly swings away from your leg, the hind leg on the same side is stepping forward. I add leg "with the swing" to time my aid to his hind leg.

  4. I love his game face too :) I have been focusing lately on trying to figure out where Oberon's feet are and mine! So much to think about, such minute things can mean SO much... it is a never ending journey, this quest for good horsemanship.

    1. I agree and I love how there are always more layers to uncover. Horsemanship is really a lifelong journey.

  5. I'm sorry, I think I missed the point of your post since I was mesmerized by his beautiful quarter horse butt ;)


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