Recently, I took Roo for his first off-property trip in nearly a year to a Micah Deligdish clinic at Maven Sport Horses in Powder Springs, Georgia. We attended a Ryan Bell Knol clinic there in early 2019 when the weather turned very cold and windy and the wind tried to blow down the indoor arena door to “get” Roo. With that as our history there, I watched the weather very closely before I committed to this clinic. My anxiety pushed me to prepare with loading practice (a special snack of Senior on the trailer has helped Roo’s interest in loading immensely!), asking for an ideal ride time based on our typical loading time, and riding consistently to make sure there was no extra energy available to feed Roo’s anxieties. In addition, I visualized the trip going well – easy loading, quiet unloading, safe travel – there and back. I loaded the deck in my favor by asking my mother who is a Reiki Master to send us energy toward a good experience.
This is what I wrote on Facebook that day . . .
It was a big day for Roo. He went on a field trip to Maven Sport Horses where we rode in the Micah Deligdish Clinic. (Bonus: Micah is an Equinety Ambassador).
Thanks for all the encouragement. It was a SUCCESS from the beginning right through the middle all the way to the end.
Roo loaded like he wakes up and gets in the trailer every morning. When we were packed up and ready to head home, he took a moment to think about getting back on but instead of saying “no”, he put his big boy pants on and marched on to brave the trip home. What a good pony!
I am embarrassed to say that I was so focused on having a good loading experience, that I nearly didn’t absorb the lesson! I didn’t miss it all~ I did get some clear ideas on how to work the tension out of Roo and we hit on where I need to work on myself. I’ll title the lesson: It’s about the reaction.
While all travel went according to plan, I had not considered much about taking the actual lesson so I ran into tension in Roo and a lot in myself. During my ride, I found myself having a hard time “hearing through the past”. By that I mean, I was anticipating and looking for past behaviors and not really present – with the horse Roo was at the moment or listening closely to what Micah was saying. This was a clear example of all people listen through their own filters – in this case my fear filter, fear of what has happened before and could again and fear of riding badly, embarrassing myself and my beautiful horse.
Fortunately, Micah has a method and she wasn’t too surprised to find resistance. It’s hard to take a lesson with a new person and it’s hard to teach a new person. To help ease some of the tension in horse and rider, she moved us right into exercises.
They went something like this:
- Exercises can be used as a daily warm up.
- Think “dynamic stretch” and move your horse slightly outside of his comfort zone in the bends (some over bending at warm up is okay).
- Keep consistent contact.
- Don’t throw away the reins in lengthens/mediums/extensions. Ride into the contact – more snaffle than curb.
- Exercises can be done at all gaits. We started with a good trot.
- Each segment might be done a few times until you are warmed up enough to move to the next part.
Do several serpentines, focusing on having a good change of bend during change of direction. Variations – change the size of the serpentines. Here’s where “dynamic stretch” comes into play. Do this until you feel a comfortable change of bend.
Ride down center line, leg yield to the wall (more about crossing the inside leg under the body than the sideways), “more” on the short side, shoulder-in on the long side and back up the center line to leg yield to the wall, travers on the short side, shoulder-in on the long side and back up the center line, leg yield to the wall, “more”, diagonal change of direction. Repeat on the other side. Think of each side of the arena as a segment: Each segment might be done a few times until you are warmed up enough to move to the next part.
An exercise we used to work more on longitudinal suppleness was a square using half the arena. Really go on each side and collect a few steps (not so many that cause you to get “stuck”) through each corner. Work on this in both directions at trot and canter ideally until the forward and back is easy.
It was a full ride and at the end Roo’s tension was gone. By thoughtfully working both laterally and longitudinally, the whole horse was suppled. Yay!
Micah was okay with training things in the same spot each time – for her it’s okay that the horse learns a spot in the arena where something happens. I’ve always been concerned about Roo learning that X happens here and would anticipate X happening there every time so I have not done that on purpose. As a result I’ve struggled to come up with a good warm up routine (because I didn’t exactly want a routine!). However, I’ve done some training that X happens here unintentionally anyway so I will start using her exercises to improve my warm up. I would like to say I have already started using the patterns but the weather has been so hit or miss since the clinic that I’ve hardly ridden…
- Micah suggested introducing spurs, which I have never worn on Roo. If we move up the levels as hoped, spurs are required to show at FEI levels…
- We talked about the quick responses needed to improve everything.
- Most exciting things Micah said that day, I can see glimpses of the PSG horse in there. And, he’s got a great trot.
Micah’s methodical approach was calming for my nerves – something I very much needed. Roo appreciated the thorough workout. He was relaxed as a result. We’ll attend again if and when she returns.
See you at the barn!
PS I’ve finally set up an affiliate page for Equinety on Facebook – – Roo’s Equinety Channel. Like it, if you want.
Roo’s Equinety link: http://TeamEquinety.com?aff=44