Just as I was about to rename my farm, ‘The Big and Tall’ horse outlet, along came a 15-hand Arabian, Locano. He belongs to my student, Jessica, who needs a month or more of help. Seriously, after training the massive filly, Lyric, could he be any more adorbs? He is positively Thelwellian.
Locano, or "Loco," as we call him, at 7, is a relatively recent convert to the dressage world (if I have any say in the matter!) as his mom, Jessica—a lifelong rider with a good, solid seat—has been doing the hunter thing within the Arabian world. So for Jessica, learning about this whole ‘straightness’ and ‘throughness’ thing can be a bit daunting. But, she is steadily progressing and knowing that ‘green on green’ makes for an even larger challenge, Loco has come to me for December.
Croup-high and a bit straight behind, Loco has also been quite crooked, bulging to the right, and because he isn’t loading evenly behind, he isn’t capable of true impulsion, and so he has sort of lived his life behind the leg with a ‘Peppy la Pew’ approach to his gaits and a sort of ‘head set’ (oh, that word makes Aunty Pam shudder!) or becomes Captain Inverted.
So my approach with this pony-pie, like all the others, was to do a bit of longeing first, without side reins until I could get his little butt forward, and then attach them to help me keep his shoulders straight so that I could teach him to work over his back and begin to develop those needed muscles. Pretty pony! And look how nicely his back is lifted behind the cantle:
And then once I got on, I had to ignore his other evasion, which is spooking, and be relentless that he accept my straightening leg without him jigging or being silly, and GO, so that we could recreate the stretch early in our ride. That’s been my goal these first few sessions: all I want is straight, forward, and an honest stretch.
And as he builds strength, using all these new muscles and developing his own core, he’s able to give me some very nice moments, working honestly into a connection. Isn’t it amazing how when he actually carries himself, somehow, this giant 6’1 woman on his back doesn’t look all that giant on 15 hands? Good boy, Loco!