Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Monday, January 10, 2011

In the Arena #45 - Let the hammer drive the nail

"There is a saying in carpentry, 'Let the hammer drive the nail.' So too in riding, we should let the aids inspire the horse to respond as we wish, rather than trying to move the horse's body with our own physical effort. Dance your horse forward, do not push him." Eric Herbermann

Our second ride of the year was simply the best work Val and I have ever done together. No issues. Everything I asked for, I got. We were a team. Accurate circles, serpentines, leg yields through the cones. No balking at the deep spots in the arena, or the (formerly) very scary corner. Going both directions felt the same. Our transitions were soft and immediate. And the trot work... well I can't even think of a good enough adjective. Once again Val worked over his back, reached for contact and used his core. This makes three rides in a row. Possibly a trend?!

I guess we've had some kind of a breakthrough. I'm almost afraid to acknowledge this because I know from other disciplines that breakthroughs are often followed by new periods of struggle. It's as if you're climbing a mountain, and you finally make it to a plateau. There is satisfaction, and a little time to reflect. But there is also a new perspective of your goal. Everything looks different from here. You're basically starting over.

We're heading up the road to get some lessons this weekend. I'm figuring we'll have our opportunity to come back down to earth there. I can't wait ;)


Hopefully I'm starting a new trend regarding my luck getting hay as well. I called my supplier to see if I could replace the needle hay I threw away, with some beautiful orchard / timothy mix that they've had most of the winter. "Oh, we just sold the last bales of it a few minutes ago..." I asked what they did have, and the choices were less than inspiring. Orchard / alfalfa, heavy on the alfalfa and some straight timothy. I  reluctantly decided I could buy some of both, and use the timothy to cut the alfalfa. There is no way my horse needs alfalfa, although he would tell you different. Kind of like horse crack - he tries it and needs more NOW - nothing else will do.

Eavesdropping as I stood in line to place my order the next day, I realized they still had some of the orchard mix. "I'll take it!" I practically shouted. There were exactly enough bales left to fill my horse trailer. We should be set until May, when the first local hay will be ready. What a relief, and well worth an entire day of driving.


On Saturday we had a random sudden snowstorm. I happened to be up at the barn so I could snap some pictures of the boys enjoying the "Fifteen Minute Blizzard"...


  1. Good stuff all around - cherish those moments.

  2. I'm so happy for you and Val and your breakthroughs. It's always scary to me when it all goes very right, I'm the pessimist waiting for the other shoe/hoof to drop and send things spiraling downward again. Hope it holds through for you with your lessons though.

    Glad you got the good stuff. We just got a garage full too that should last until spring.

    As for your call that a storm. We've been getting hammered seems like every few days, another 10-12 in. expected tomorrow night!

  3. I think it's perfectly okay for you to celebrate your accomplishments AND if you look to any future "problems" as a way to grow and be even better still... well then you can REALLY celebrate! :)

  4. GHM-

    You expressed exactly what I'm feeling - like our progress is too good to be true. I'm trying to accept it gracefully lol...

    Regarding the weather - our little outburst was truly bizarre. Sunny and mid forties all morning... then for fifteen minutes - thirty mph winds and snowing sideways. Gone as quick as it started.

  5. Kate - thanks, I was floating out of the barn that day :)

    Rachel - that's the perfect attitude!

  6. Love the pictures. They are having way too much fun. My guess is that you will get new challenges at your next lesson - not go backwards. Congratulations!

  7. The thing is, even if the next ride, or any ride coming up isn't as perfect, that's NORMAL.

    We and our horses hit new plateaus, new challenges, and have off days.

    But the good days you've had are in the muscle memory and your training notes and that progress is there.

    If everything went magically better and better with no bits of struggle in between you'd be in a fairy tale, not riding a live, thinking, horse... :)

  8. Those wonderful 'this is how it's supposed to be' moments are what keep us hooked on this stuff.

  9. What a relief to have the hay situation sorted out! They are just like kids when it starts to snow. Running around like big crazies :) Mine are out there doing it right now.


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