One of my little clients couldn’t make her lesson this week because she was going to the circus. This left me with a great opportunity to school her pony.
Now, he’s only eleven hands so I didn’t ride him. I have done before, but he’s very well behaved for bigger jockeys so I doesn’t help the problem my rider has.
On the left rein she turns him off the track, circles etc easily, but on the right rein he curls his neck up as she turns him off the track. I think her left leg is weaker than her right. On the right rein he also falls through that shoulder to the gate.
We’ve put him in the full cheek snaffle, and used side reins when she’s riding, which have helped, but no solved the issue.
My solution was to long rein him. That way he didn’t have the weight of me, but hopefully I could still influence his behaviour.
After towing me round on the left rein for a couple of laps, he settled and I got him walking circles. He was very good, so I changed the rein.
Here, I tricked him a bit as I sloppily steered him down the long side before pulling the inside rein, mimicking a child, as children always ride hand first then leg when they remember! The pony curled his neck and carried on walking along the track, so quick as a flash I whopped the outside long rein against his side, mimicking the outside leg.
He leapt forwards, as though he’d been electrocuted, completely caught by surprise at this outside aid. We carried on walking around the circle before trying to turn off the track again … He was brilliant – no hesitation and he kept his neck and shoulders straighter.
I had to repeat the exercise near the gate, but once told he was foot perfect.
After a lunge with the long reins I put him onto a single line and did some free jumping with him. He loved it! Taking me towards the fences before I was organised. The idea of this was to give him some fun and to let him feel the freedom of jumping without being restricted by his rider, although his rider has gotten much better at folding and keeping her hands forward. We finished by jumping a 2’3″ spread, which is quite impressive for a pony only jumping one foot with his rider.
I’m hoping that next lesson this pony behaves on the right rein, and allows his rider to feel a more correct turn.