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Working John's Mare: trotting


by Blogger Mark Langley

John’s mare must be keen to stay here. The day after Mark rode her in the big round yard covered in the last post, she came in with a swelling on her shoulder that has effected her mobility. Not only did she have to have more time off, just at this crucial stage where consistency can be so important, but Mark has also had to treat her with injected antibiotics. On a very sensitive mare this could have sent their trust and relationship backwards. But it seems she has come along way and she is perhaps more accepting of us than we give her credit for.

The course of antibiotics did not make her go sour. She stood there for them, and after 7 days, she was good enough for Mark to continue with her.

These photos show him working her on that ride and the ride he gave her yesterday.

So after a few steps at a walk, then a week off, Mark brings her in and in no time at all is on her. This time he asks for a trot. Mark is not just sitting on her, now he is riding her. Her tail clamps down and she props occasionally, sometimes stopping suddenly or turning back on herself. “She didn’t know whether to go forward or stop and was sometimes looking for ways out. I would just let her go wherever and try to let her get a relaxed forward. I only touch the reins and guide her when she felt ready to be guided.”

Her trot is not her smooth natural rhythm but an unsure, tense one.  ”It felt like riding a rabbit. She was concentrating so hard on me that it was hard for her to move forward. This will come with confidence and understanding.” But there is no buck. On either day.  ”I did think that if she got a fright or rushed, she may have bucked. She was so sensitive on her back. I was happy that only clamped her tail and hunched up.”

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She was quite sweaty on Saturday. “She got sweaty quite quickly, due to tension and exercise.” This sweat is noticeably reduced on Sunday’s ride though they were about the same length, possibly longer on Sunday. 

At the end of the lesson on Saturday, Mark is careful to rub her in different positions whilst on her back.

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But on the next day (yesterday), Mark was waving his arms and slapping his legs as she moved.  And at one point she popped into a canter.

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He then reminds her to give to pressure – on Saturday it was flexion to the sides and a little tiny bit of vertical flexion.

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But on Sunday he found she was so in tune with him that she would stop with his seat. This is from a trot. Her second trot with him on her back.

And from that, he thought he would see if she could give him backwards. She did. Not just one hesitant step, but some steady even paces.  ”After I let her travel forwards in a calm and relaxed trot, I started to soften her to two hands. She responded very willingly. It was a good opportunity to ask her to gently go back. I was extremely happy with how calmly and softly she backed under saddle, as backing for her did cause quite a lot of tension previously.”

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