Sunday, November 1, 2015

Riding Gumby

Lucy is a Gumby horse.  She bends easily (I have to be careful not to overbend her) and lateral work comes easily.

(photo from

Yesterday morning she was calm but full of energy.  When we started our trot work she was very forward, in front of my leg, and ready to run.  She gave snorts of excitement and farts when we lengthened.  I decided not to canter her.  She was full of it.  Instead, we practiced haunches in half-way down the long side, straightened for two strides, then did shoulder-in the rest of the way.  We collected on the short side and extended on the long.  We did quite a bit of leg yield.  Lucy powered into her trot transitions and she kept the cork from blowing out of her bubbling champagne bottle of energy.  I was very pleased.

This morning, I had a different horse.  The sky was overcast with brief appearances of the sun interspersed with long grey periods.  The breeze was blowing, slightly.  It was, apparently, enough of breeze to wake up trolls.  Lucy was on high alert.  When Brett and Pistol came into the court, she settled slightly -- but then she saw a troll making faces at her from the trees and lost her focus.  We spent the first ten minutes doing bendy things: small circles, narrow serpentines, leg yield, shoulder-in on a circle, boxes with turns on the forehand at the corners.  When she was too busy thinking about her feet to worry about the trolls, we moved into trot work.  And then canter.

I learned that Lucy will transition into canter if I weight my inside seat bone.  That's it.  I sit two strides, weight the inside, and she transitions beautifully.  The transition down is just as easy.  I shift my weight to the outside seat bone and give a light half-halt.

Riding a sensitive mare is a blast.  A challenge, yes, but definitely a blast.  An E-ticket package of "let's do it" in a sweet, "yes, please cover me in kisses" mare.


  1. Sounds like a fabulous ride to me!

  2. Sounds like a lot of fun.

    Red is my gumby horse - when I got him he would bend all over the place and it was difficult to get him to track straight. There is a pernicious practice in some parts of the western and/or natural horsemanship world called lateral flexion - taking the horse's head and asking the horse to bend its head and neck around, even as far as your foot. This if often done to excess, leading to horses like Red where the head and neck are basically disconnected to the body.

    It took time and work to get him to travel straight and bend without overbending. He's naturally very flexible in neck and body, and I have to still be careful not to overbend him.

  3. She does sound fun to ride. Can't complain about a Gumby horse. My horse is more like Gumby was left in the freezer all night.


Thanks so much for commenting! I love the conversation.