The Story Of Ruby’s Progress Continues!
I told all of you about Ruby. The horse I use the hashtag “babywesternhorseturnedbabyenglishhorse”to describe on Instagram.
The last time we worked with her Christina (my friend and partner in blogging crime) was riding her in a lesson. To make a long story short. I had planned to take a break from flat work that lesson. I even had one of my students who was earlier in the day set up a bunch of small cross rails. Specifically for this lesson with Ruby.
Ruby had other plans. She was feeling her red-headed mare oats that day! Flies were biting her, she was sweating before she even started. She basically made it very clear from the very beginning that she wasn’t a willing participant that particular day.
My Best Laid Plans Were Shot!
I realized quickly that my plans for Ruby’s lesson day had to go out the window. She was telling me she needed to do something else. She was reverting to some of her old habits to avoid the bit. A few times she didn’t want to steer. Also, she didn’t want to break out of her slower western gait despite how hard she was pushed.
The fun lesson letting her learn to find her way over jumps was replaced with a flatwork lesson reinforcing all the things that she has learned so far. Including the correction that we make when she doesn’t do what we want. It was a hard ride for Christina but did end on a good note.
Ruby’s Next Ride
Yesterday evening, I gave Aleta a lesson( Aleta is Ruby’s mom/owner). We had told her about the previous lesson. That it had started off bad, and ended okay. We even sent her videos of the end when she finally started going nicely without complaint.
I don’t know if she was apprehensive about her lesson, after hearing about Christina’s ride the day before. If she was, she didn’t show it.
The Best She Has Ever Gone!
Yesterday, I think Aleta, Christina and I would all agree that Ruby went the best she has ever gone. She was moving nice and forward. Keeping a nice soft connection with the bit. The few times that she tried her old trick of holding the bit super hard on one side she was easily corrected.
Aleta said that she had never been able to keep her going forward in a nice frame like she did yesterday. Ruby was staying consistently forward and connected.
What We Are Always Working Towards-“Lightbulb moments!”
I’d say they had a lightbulb moment together. Since Ruby had more energy, Aleta felt the tempo that she should go in all the time. Ruby was responding to the aids, even for corrections, very well. Which allowed Aleta to feel what it feels like when she gives her the correct cues and Ruby responds promptly. Aleta also got used to for the first time the feel of maintaining good weight in your hand. Feeling what a good soft connection with the bit feels like. I’m not saying these are things she has never experienced before, she is a lifelong horsewoman! Ruby is young and it has been a while since Aleta worked with a young horse.
Those days where we ask correctly and they respond correctly are the days that create the muscle memory that is essential for good riding.
The day we had before that when our jumping lesson turned into a hard flatwork lesson also served a good purpose. It reinforced to Ruby that it was okay if she didn’t want to participate, but that we were going to insist on it until she did. We would not get mad or tense and start a fight with her. We were just quietly determined that she was going to do what we asked. It wasn’t like we were asking her to do something she didn’t know how to do!
Our Change Of Plans The Day Before Is What Helped Her Next Ride Be So Successful
I think Ruby soaked up everything that happened in that tough lesson. She was quietly reminded what it was we wanted her to do. As well, as us quietly insisting that we would keep asking until she did it! That tough lesson, we had to walk that red-headed mare line. You know the one where we get what we want, without picking a fight! It was what my old trainer, as well as our family friend, would call it “a come to Jesus discussion”.
Since the discussion was successful (and ended on a good note) Ruby came out yesterday ready to go to work. She showed us that all our hard work is paying off. She is really starting to figure things out! The baby western horse is turning into a baby English horse after all.
Best Laid Plans Going Out The Window Sometimes Works Out For The Best!
The moral of the story is. My best-laid lesson plans went out the window the day before. Listening to the horse and working on what she needed at that particular moment paid off though! She was fabulous yesterday! Nothing makes a trainer happier to see a student and a horse finally “click”. Yesterday Ruby and Aleta spoke the same language more clearly than they ever had before. To me, that is big time progress!