One of the most valuable things we learned at the clinic a few weeks back was the rein-back. This has been difficult for Cho in the past and often resulted in her hollowing out, if she moved backwards at all.
Largely I just haven’t done much of it, for fear of doing it wrong.
But that wasn’t an issue at the clinic. Suddenly we had this really great rein-back, and it required no drama. No head lifting! She backed up, without fail, every time! All I had to do was bend at the knees and gently ask with my inside rein!
The past few rides, we haven’t been as lucky, and truth be told…I don’t really know what to do.
This is the curse of training your horse as an adult amateur learning along the way. Little things like this can completely throw me.
Anyway, unless she is already put together and working back to front and on the bit and all of that magic, she has been lifting her head and hollowing before she does the rein-back. Past experience (ie past trainers): “Do not do the rein-back like this.” During the clinic the trainer wasn’t concerned about it being pretty…but Cho also did not demonstrate this. Also, the clinician wanted us to use this as a tool to assist getting Cholula together, not just as something to practice when she is.
WHAT TO DO.
First, remind myself of this: “That is the beauty of training horses. You always have another opportunity to do it again.”
What I have been doing is tedious and can quickly become a battle of wills and stubbornness between Cholula and I. As soon as she lifts her head, I put my legs back at the girth and ask her to come into the bridle and stand on her own. (This was the precursor to the rein-back exercise: halt, ask for her to yield to the bit if she hasn’t already. Once that is established, I move my hands just an inch up so she has to stand there and hold herself up. Baby steps to better self carriage.)
The battle of wills comes about when Cho just stands there, ignoring me, for what feels like all of time.
When she does eventually give and stand nicely, I hold with my outside rein, ask with the fingers of my inside rein, knees bent, and rein-back. Boom. Except when not.
I did video tape Saturday’s ride, which despite these frustrations, we got some nice work elsewhere. It was a big canter training day…sadly my camera died before it captured most of what we did, which included lengthenings without breaking and some counter canter fun.
But have a little canter clip, followed by some really nice shoulder-in!