Thursday, May 7, 2015

Getting somewhere, one ride at a time.

After our last battle, I mean lesson, with Jennifer Roth, Pippi and I had our work cut out for us. We have got to get the tempo and bend necessary for Dressage. Pippi goes just fine until I ask her for a better bend and carriage, then she starts popping her head up and down like a pogo stick. It has been exhausting, and I was tired of constantly battling with her.

My nagging was just ticking her off, and I think in part that is due to my timing and aids not being clear. And that was made worse since her head bobbing was throwing me out of position a lot. So we battled, ticked each other off and got no where. I started toying with the idea of side reins, and asked a bunch of people (by that I mean ALL the bloggers at Horse Junkies United) and was given a lot of information. Most said "Try it!" and a few said "I dont like the use of gadgets." I had not been very clear in why I was asking, I just kind of said "side reins - yes or no?" So I pondered, and decided that I just didn't know. Then I received a message from one of our bloggers with a horse like mine. Stefanie and her awesome mare, Sandie, put my mind at ease. Stefanie told me why she chose to use the side reins to lunge in, and her reasons were the exact same ones I was dealing with. Sandie is a head strong little lady just like Pippi, and like Pippi she hates to be told what to do.

With mares like ours its a little like dealing with a man, they comply easier if they think it's their idea!

So I ordered a pair of side reins, and let them sit for a while before I pulled my Romfhs up and decided it was time. Keep in mind that Pippi has been ridden in martingales, the only one worried about this thing was me. I snapped them on, on the longest setting and asked Pippi to walk. Yeah, NO! she said. She was not going to go out on the lunge like that. So we walked side by side a bit, until she felt how they worked. Then she looked at me like "why did you make such a big deal about this?" and walked out on the circle on her own and basically started lunging herself. SHE WAS FINE!!!
Both sides of the donut reins are the same length. and they are on the longest setting. She is fine with it.

The picture was from when I first put them on, and she was convinced I had tied her up. Once she took a step she relaxed and was moving around fine. I felt bad, but Pippi didn't so I decided I was okay with this for now. I use them for 10-15 minutes at a time and Pippis muscles are strengthening without me on her back saying bend , bend, bend, bend, every few strides. So, you decide for yourself. Is a "gadget" not your style? Or do you think that the clear direction of a "gadget" may in some ways be kinder than constant nagging?

At this point our rides are easier, and more and more Pippi is saying "oh yeah I can do that" when asked to bend. I find myself sitting softer, and having softer legs, and staying out of her mouth more now that her mouth is not a constantly moving place. So for me it worked, for now......


  1. I know many people are against gadgets - basically, I go on the advice of my trainer and treat them as a training tool, not a quick fix. With Riva, I have found most work for awhile (draw reins - german martingale). But like you said, Mares want it to be their idea and what works today may not work tomorrow.

    1. That is for sure. I think the important thing to keep in mind is that what works for one, or doesnt work for one, may not hold true for another. Some horses may hate side reins, while others hate being nagged.


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