Recently there was a post over on the Sprinkler Bandit as to things you look for and when it might be best to sell your horse and find another one. She had listed several valid points to consider and while I agree with many of them, there is one other thing that comes into play. Timing.
Sometimes we have the right horse for us, just not at the right time. I have one of those now. My WB mare is for sale as many people know. Between the divorce, moving and everything else, I just don't have the time to put into her or really the money to be spending on her either. What really sucks in all of this, is that while riding her and putting the time and effort into training her so she has a decent shot at a good home, I am finding I am not only remembering a lot of what I knew about training, but also learning a lot too.
While my friend had given me some pointers and I had a few DUH! and A-HA! moments, there are also times I have to think about things and come up with ways to make it work. How to ask more clearly, when to accept what I get and when to push for more. The other night I had another one of those A-HA! moments. Aruba kept dropping her inside shoulder, leaning into the turns as we went around the round pen on the rail. I thought back to all of the ways I knew how to 'fix' it. I brought my inside shoulder back, sat up straight, looked UP, put my inside leg on her to move the shoulders over to the outside (which made it worse by the way), pushed different body parts different directions and while at the walk it all helped more or less... As soon as we picked up the trot it all. fell. apart. Again and again, and again.
I had worked her on straight lines before and decided what the hell. Why NOT try it again? If I was riding her straight at a fixed point across the pen, there was less chance that I would be leaning or riding in any way that would signal her to let things fall apart. Well what do you know??? I would find a post on the other side, aim for it and ride her straight at it, stopping when we reached it. The first couple of lines I will admit, got a little wobbly. Aruba wasn't sure what I was doing, what I was asking for or if I even knew what I wanted?
Part of this exercise was also to quiet me. Quiet my hands, quiet my legs, quiet my seat and just sit on my horse, letting her do the work. I was riding straight forward, so no reason to half halt or signal for a turn. Hands nice and wide, give her room to work and let her go. Quiet my legs- no moving body parts in or out on the circle, just keep it all moving forward between them. Quiet my seat- no posting, just sit the trot and drive her up into my hands to guide her where I wanted to go.
After several straight lines, some shorter and a only couple panels across the pen, some longer and all the way across the pen, Aruba got it and really started to work like she should. No leaning into the turns, no ignoring my legs, no dropping shoulders or hips, soft, forward and awesome. We were both being quiet. She was quiet in the bridle and I was doing my best to sit quietly on her, staying out of her way and letting it all happen like it should. I would pick a post, push her into a trot and aim straight for it, stopping her at the rail, letting her relax for a few seconds while I praised her, turn and find another post, trot to it, stop, praise and repeat. Turns were made in both directions so there was no anticipating where we would go next.
When we had several straight lines, both of us quiet and it was all working, I let her walk on the rail and then asked for a trot. I would sit the trot and she would sart off slowly enouh and as we worked our way aound the pen I felt that sweet spot in her stride when she was balanced and forward in her movement. When her movement started lifting me out of the saddle and forward with her, only then is when I sarted to post. If she started to lean and things slid back into falling apart all wrong, I eased her back down and would sit the trot until it felt right again and picked up posting. Going one direction we did great. When we reversed to go the other direction, things went to shit again. No big deal, we just went back to doing some straight lines and that fixed it. Going around on the rail again, sitting the trot until she had it right, then posting... things just clicked for us.