Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bad Ass Bill

Bill is not really that young at 7 but she still comes in as very very green. But maybe in my head I'm treating her too green. I have known for a little while that I haven't been on the right track with the Billock for a little while because we haven't really been making progress and in fact I have managed to just about lose the right canter lead so figure that. It's a straightness and forward issue that is going to be addressed soon I promise.

Anyway she was supposed to compete at a local show this weekend and I had her at a friends place to see if she could still jump and we never really got that far to be honest. The main issue I have with Bill is that I haven't really feel in control for the last little while and I haven't really managed to figure out why not. I know it's because she tends to fall behind the bridle but she feels forward so it hadn't really clicked for me. These are the difficulties of doing it all yourself. Anyway going down trot poles to a small jump she stood on the last trot pole, threw herself at the jump, unbalanced me and then emphatically bucked me off. I was happy because I always thought she would kick me on the way past and she didn't so that was a blessing but I landed very not lightly. And there it is my first fall off of Bill and probably one of many. Then we just worked on trot poles and straightness and a few other things but didn't jump again. He pointed out how behind the bridle she was and how she didn't do any long and low. He said she was faking me out by holding a pretty frame, but not actually doing anything. Food for thought. Clearly I decided we weren't ready to show.

I spent a lot of time pondering this issue and how I was going to face it really, being not exactly sure what I needed to do. I sort of started to wonder if much like the great grey bastard I struggled with for years whether she was just too much horse for me. I hate not knowing what the issue is. Anyway I took her to the show to ride afterwards and when I got on she started out ok but a little looky and sensitive as she would be in a show environment. Anyway they were packing up some jumps and she started to get freaked out and at one point did like this huge leap in the air and a few bucks but stayed straight so I sat it all out all right. My sister was there and she was all you know she is taking the piss out of you right? Oh. After the jump packers left I got back to work and a thought that hasn't popped up since the great grey bastard which was You are a heel of a lot safer going forward' and so I rode her forward really forward and suddenly it all clicked. I thought she was going forward before but she wasn'. Her more powerful WB movement was just faking me out and I was letting her nonce around in a fake frame and take control when she wasn't really going forward at all. I'd like to point out that this horse is a hell of a mover.

Once I really rode her forward she took up the contact herself and started to swing and be through. It's so often a small simple change that is key eh. It's always going forward too I should know that by now. As soon as I got her forward I felt in control again. At the canter she bucked a little and protested but I got probably the nicest canter work I have ever had out of her and she never got close to unseating me. I have added a pad under the saddle to balance it a bit more level rather than downhill which actually made a huge difference to my balance. She is still very down hill even at seven so sometimes I feel I'm riding a slide. So much work to do and just maybe I'll be able to jump her at the A and P show in two weeks over the 85cm class, if not I'll aim her for the young farmers show and miss the NZEF show that weekend. Sacrifices to get the wee girl going. Still can't believe I missed this for as long as I did.


  1. Sounds like very good progress - you're right, if you've not got forward, you've got nothing to work with. Our Dawn had a tendency to curl behind the bit but with her it was a misunderstanding of what we wanted her to do - she's an overachiever. That was fixed pretty easily by just asking her to raise her head. Lily could suck back behind the bit by raising her head and neck high and then bringing her whole head back towards her chest - that's when she's do her big bolt and buck moves, with no rein contact at all - in fact the sign that she was going to do it was your reins going loose. Thankfully in the jumper ring she was all business and never did that stuff. With her the solution was working on relaxation and getting her to stretch down long and low - she was built uphill so a different set of issues than Dawn.

  2. Good report. Not having a trainer around all the time does leave one to problem solve and wiggle around sometimes. A regular trainer is a luxury, but if it is not there then the rider is forced to think critically. I think we are better for it, although progress may be slowed down a bit.

  3. Too bad about the fall it sounds painful.
    It's great the progress you've made though. I hope things keep looking up.

  4. Ha! I -completely- relate. Izzy has that gorgeous WB body and neck and can completely fake her frame. I seem to have to re-learn forward with her every 6 months or so, but hopefully we've got it now. The good thing about this sort of behavior is that when you really learn what 'behind the leg' feels like on a lazy horse like Bill or Izzy, you start to notice it on your more forward horses who won't stop and/or buck you off. That allows you to ride better all around.

    ;-) And only you could make that fall sound like the easy way out.