Saturday, November 14, 2009

On the runway

Today I'll be on the runway - starting in Austin, landing in El Paso. I'll just be gone for a day doing a taping and a day of seeing what's happened to my home town.

I grew up in El Paso and during high school moved to my grandmother's cotton farm. That's where I finally got my first horse.

I knew nothing about horses, had never ridden anything but a pony on a line, but I'd run full speed on that horse like you not believe. I have a great photo my father took back then, I'll post it later this week.

I'm going to take advantage of having to do this trip and will spend most of today traveling old roads and finding out how they've changed. My new novel is based in El Paso, and I have been away too long to be able to put you there.

I particularly need to see how downtown has changed.

Anyway, this trip meant that I had a very short runway with Cibolo.

Cibolo, reviewing his runway work.

I wanted to work again on our canter. I want to get that take off right. I don't want to trot 3/4 of the way down the runway and canter 5 steps. I mean you'll never get into the sky with that technique...

Ironically a friend at the stables is having a problem at the canter too.

This is Kelly and Davy. They recently added this red roan, Amigo, to their family (having rid themselves of a completely insane, bucking, quarterhorse).

Amigo (formerly Chili) was a trail horse for the longest time. Amigo refuses to canter. Even on a lunge line.

So Kelly brought out her spurs to try. Amigo found them irritating, but still would not canter. My experience with trail mounts is that the operators never canter those horses - not at all. They want them nice and quiet for the city riders.

I imagine after years and years they have little muscle development for cantering. You notice she also uses a tie down - Amigo is often pulling against it.

Any suggestions? I thought she'd have to get him cantering on a lunge line first, but I'm fairly sure she's pushed him pretty hard. She not hesitant about pushing...

Ladies and Gentlemen, prepare for take off...

Here is Cibolo's runway. We trot up and down this road before and after our rides lately. And earlier in the week we worked on cantering.

This time we did much better, but the take off is still slow.

But no head tossing this time. He always puts his ears back when going into the canter, not pinning, but almost as if he's between a pin and a simple turn back. So I'm not sure if he's still giving some resistance or he's listening. I'm going to have someone else look at it and help me read it right.

Most of the time I think he's checking to see if I'm serious. Once I show him that I'm consistent, that I do mean it every time, I hope that will help more than the canter.

We road the trails alone and I really am starting to enjoy our time alone. I need to push past the next boundry - riding past the very familiar trails to the ones a little further out. Slowly, but surely...

The runway home.

See you all in a few days. Stay safe and ride a horse for me. :)


Kate said...

A couple of thoughts on Amigo - if he's used to being ridden in a tie-down, and tends to pull against it, that suggests that he may be going around inverted - engaging his top line muscles rather than his core. If that's his habitual way of going, that means he's not using his core, and it will be very difficult for him to canter - the horse really has to step under himself to do this properly. I'd suggest starting with basic softening work in the back, walk and trot - without that foundation and the muscular development/muscle memory where the core can engage, he may never be able to canter properly. I'd ditch the tie-down so he can't lean on it, as that will make the problem worse.

Also, one thing I find when riding any horse in the trot to canter transition is rider focus - pick the exact point you want the canter, set it up and go - it helps to think of the rhythm change from 1-2, 1-2 to 1-2-3, 1-2-3 rather than just thinking about going faster - thinking of the canter as faster may just get you a fast trot followed by a fall into the canter.

Gail said...

I am an uneducated horse owner and lover so the only advice I ever have is hang on.

Lil Mama said...

I think I agree with Kate. Horses will definitley learn to "lean" on a tie down. I find that creating a supple horse is the best way to have them lope off correctly. Lateral movement will definitely help create muscle where it is needed. What I do (and it's a great warm up too) is start on the rail at a walk. Push your horse of the rail with your leg. Then push them back on do this until your horse is doing pretty well with out fuss. then at the trot. When your ready to lope, your horse is a little more ready to move off the correct leg and on to the correct lead. I noticed that the road your practicing on is very hard. Remeber that some horses are very sensitive to that. He may not want to lope correctly on that road because it is uncomfortable for him. Any way, this is just stuff that works for me. Good luck.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I hope you're having a great time. And it sounds like Cibolo and you are just going through a typical communication adjustment period. You'll get there in time :)


Michelle said...

Hope you have a productive and wonderful trip! It's always so exciting to go back to our roots and see how things have changed. Hopefully it's for the better.

Lynn Brooks said...

I also grew up in El Paso and live up the rode between Anthony and Las Cruces.
El Paso has definitely changed (grown)so I will be very interested to hear your take on the home town. Also look forward to your book.

Cara said...

I think Kate is right here. Other horses cantering nearby will add incentive.