The temperature dropped here in Central Ohio this week, in addition to getting a little bit of snow. Lessons were cancelled, so I’ve spent some extra time mulling over a few recent rides on Moiya. I’ve come to the conclusion that Moiya is a counter-intuitive ride, which is one of the things that makes her so difficult. Well, that and the fact that she’s sensitive and opinionated. But today I want to focus on some of the things that I’ve learned over the last few months about riding Moiya that seem… well… the opposite of what I would first think to do.
One of Moiya’s evasions is rooting: where she puts her head and practically lays her head and neck on the bit. It has the effect of pulling the rider forward and makes me want to pull her back up with my hands. But instead, what works is adding more leg. If I push her forward, she picks her head up on her own and we go on as if nothing happened.
Sometimes Moiya comes out a little hot and spooky. Know what works great to get her to focus on me instead of everything else? You guessed it: adding leg. Making her walk and trot correctly, stretching over back and pushing from her hind end really holds her attention well and also tires her out faster so she’s more agreeable to what I’m asking. You know, it’s like when you get an AWESOME PACKAGE in the mail and you can’t wait to open it, so you totally miss what your husband was saying about work. I’m just too damn excited to listen. Moiya gets like that too.
Moiya spooks by tucking her ass and running. Sometimes she celebrates after a course by taking an impromptu victory gallop. When this happens I want to pull back and/or curl up into the fetal position. Neither of which are helpful for both staying on the horse OR getting her to stop. What does help is if I just stretch up and let go of the reins. Cause if we’re in a pulling match, I’m never going to win.
Along similar lines, I always have to be first to let go. When I half halt, I pull back, release the tension and THEN Moiya slows down. You always have to be the one to trust first… she won’t give you the benefit of the doubt. But if you’re willing to say “I know you know, so go ahead” then later, she’s willing to say “Oh, you did that wrong, but it’s okay.” Ah, the minds of mares!
I talked a little bit about this before, but Moiya is a sensitive and opinionated horse. I used to think that meant I needed to be as “quiet” as possible with my aids, and try to stay out of her way. While that’s certainly true when Moiya is behaving and focused on what I’m on asking, she’s not always that way; sometimes she ignores me. Sometimes she doubts what I want, almost as if she’s asking “are you sure?” And then I need to be firm. I need to be definite. Sometimes that means I don’t whisper. But she never gets mad about it, as long as it’s done at the right time.