It was’t really forty days and forty nights. It felt like more! Winter brought record setting rains to Southern California. With the rain came spring, and more rain. The flooding and saturated grounds were a problem in our stall at Lorrie’s. So, I brought Jameson home. Ready or not. Fast forward- It’s summer and I have started Jameson under saddle. It’s not all rainbows, but she is progressing nicely and is fun to be around.
“It’s the control of the feet through the mind that a person [should be] after. If you’ve missed that on the ground, [from] the start, why you’ve missed the part that means the most to the horse. The person should be focused on getting the best possible connection with the horse on the ground – through feel – if they want to have those parts of the horse available to them when they ride.” – Bill Dorrance
Regardless of the riding style, I believe there are many things all horses should learn. Proper bending is one of them. Some people become confused when talking about bend and arc. A bend becomes an arc when the horse is put into motion in the direction of the bend with self-carriage. Driving into the arc is the secret to success. Back to front. (Thank you Sarah Rolston for the succinct definition.)
(Disclaimer: This is the part where I reiterate, I am not a trainer. I read, ride, and study. I am just sharing what I am currently using in my equestrian tool bag.)
Starting from the ground, Jameson learned about bend. First from the ground we worked on yielding her shoulders, haunches, picking up her abdomen, going forward, sideways, and back. I need my aids to be consistent for her to learn. I want to ride what she has learned. Therefore, I must have the same conversation on her back as on the ground.
Shaping – If I can gently rub with my hand up the girth area and have Jameson give me her eye (bend), then same aid from the saddle should yield the same results. Besides the beginnings of bend and ultimately arc, this is a useful skill. If my horse becomes distracted in the ring or on trail, a little touch helps get her back without pulling on her face.
I’d be lying if I said this works all the time. Since Jameson is only three, conversations need reinforcing. And it is the conversations that helps reinforce leadership, rain or shine.
As always, enjoy the ride!