Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Working in-hand

I'm starting this blog a week and a half into owning my new horse, Saga. In just this short amount of time, he's progressed from not coming round at all to having some very nice round, soft, through moments at all three gaits. We're working on laterals at the walk, which are challenging because he doesn't go off my leg well yet.

To top it off, two days ago I figured out that Saga's saddle is bothering him (yeah, it took me this long to figure it out). Currently, his back is sore, but the saddle fitter doesn't come out until Thursday. Since that "shiny new horse" phenomena hasn't worn off yet, I wanted to get out and work with him, even just a little bit, so I decided to try working in hand. I wanted to work on moving his haunches away from an aid, since we are having a hard time doing that mounted, especially to the right. However, I've only ever tried working in hand a few times with my other horse, Cash, and he was always game for whatever insane thing I could dream up. He was also only 15.2 hh.

I have to say, trying to work a 17 hh horse in hand (I used the 'reins over the neck' technique, since all I had to work with was my regular bridle) is nigh on impossible, even though I'm not short. At first, Saga didn't have a clue that he could go forward while I was standing next to him. Then he wouldn't go straight. Then we got some straightness and bending to the inside, but when asking him to move laterally, my timing with the whip aid was off at the walk.

We did eventually get moving forward, and we also got some decent shoulder-in steps and leg-yield steps in both directions. Once I got it together, it's definitely easier to do in-hand. But, after I got home and spent about three seconds on the Internet looking up how to do in-hand work properly, I realized that I managed to get it all wrong (reins over the neck? WHERE did I get THAT idea???). So, I will be investing in a copy of Training the Horse in Hand: The Classic Iberian Principles. Hopefully Saga will stop looking at me like I'm nuts once I get my stuff together.

Tomorrow night I think we will go for the tried-and-true method of longeing. At least I have a clue how to do that, although Saga may not.

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