Another Addiction: Chocolate Covered Oreos. And Yes, I Did Take A Bite Out of It.

Or maybe I’m an Obsessive? I’m not sure. After a bit of researching on the Internet, I learned that addiction is a chemical dependency on something, while obsession is an intense mental preoccupation or fixation.

Okay, so the cheese, wine, Whoopie Pies, and Oreos thing is an addiction, and the horse thing is an obsession. Glad we cleared that up. (What can I say, I’m an American. As such, I have a compulsive need to label things.)

So… I have a brand new obsession.! Yippee!! (Cue call to therapist! We’ve got a visible manic high!) For my anniversary present, I asked for a year’s subscription to Equestriancoach.com. Don’t know why I’ve never subscribed before.

When I counted how many equine related DVDs I’ve purchased over the past couple of years, I could have gotten a five year subscription. The site is the brainchild of Bernie Traurig and is a compilation of videos from the best trainers in different equestrian disciplines. So no matter where you are in your riding or geographically, or what your budget is, you have access to the best equine knowledge on the planet. Count me in!!

I’ve been watching videos after the kids go to school and before work. Also before bed. Sometimes at lunch. If I had one of those doohickeys that plugs your laptop into your TV, I’d watch while I was on my treadmill, which is what I do with my DVDs. (PSA – Do NOT attempt to count strides while watching show jumping and running on treadmill! Can result in one going a$$ backwards off the back of the treadmill.)

Yup, I’d say we’ve got an official obsession here. My husband calls it my “horse porn.” He made that comment in the grocery store, and we got a LOT of funny looks. Lovely. It’s not as if I didn’t already have a rep in this town. Show up in public in my town sporting breeches, boots, and spurs, and you’ll get asked what “industry” you work in. Seriously, people do talk.

Today I headed off to the barn determined to work a plan from the Controls Of The Horse Part Two – Leg Aids video on my lazy mare. Well, maybe not lazy. She’s apparently “electric” off my trainer’s legs, decidedly less so off mine.

We warmed up on the buckle for 10 minutes, and per Bernie’s advice, I kept her marching. If I didn’t get a response from a light leg aid, I’d give her a tap. If that didn’t work, I’d “nudge her up” with my spur ( a very blunt Prince of Wales). If that didn’t work, and a couple of times it didn’t, I’d do what Bernie called a “hook” with the spurs, which is a quick upward motion with the heel.

What the heck???

Well, Sug, you weren’t listening. Hence the “hook.”

I was too listening. I just didn’t think you really meant it!

We repeated light aid, tap, and nudge if necessary at the walk, trot, and canter, aiming for consistency, and lo and behold (cue sound of heraldic trumpets) I soon had a very forward going mare underneath me. Also per Bernie’s advice, I did my best not to nag her. If her rhythm stayed consistent, I kept my leg steady. If she slowed, I added a forward leg aid.

We paid particular attention to our downward transitions, making sure to absent the leg as much as possible, sink into the heels (as much as possible with my concrete ankles) while using the direct rein aid. The problem with Sug is she drops completely behind the leg during downward transitions, in an “Oh thank God, we’re done” kind of way. This meant I had to figure out the right amount of direct rein aid to apply and then when to apply the leg aid, and how much leg aid to apply. Let’s just say this took a few go-rounds to get to point where we both could live with the results.

Speak for yourself. I could have lived with the results a LOT sooner.

After I’m done with this post I’m going to re-watch the video to go over canter transitions, flying changes, counter canter, and where, when and how to use the displacing leg to achieve them. That’ll be my next session. (Hopefully. Depends on where Sug’s at that day.)

I’ve also been enjoying the Team Karazissis’ videos on Bending Lines and Setting Up the Lead Changes on Equestriancoach.com. Watched both of those 2x each — love their teaching style! They break things down and make it VERY SIMPLE, something my aging, overtaxed brain appreciates! Am planning on using the lead changes exercise with my daughter’s pony.

Clearly this is one obsession I’m not going to take steps to eradicate!

Darn.

Hush, Sug.

Amy