I had a fairly frustrating ride on Duke last night. We’ve been working on lateral movement as straightening aids – things like working turns on the forehand and leg yielding.
Since he is a furry yak right now, I opted to do most of our work at the walk and some trot. Seriously, if I work him too hard, he gets so sweaty that I have to cool him out for, like, an hour and a half, and I don’t have time for that every night. Plus you can get a lot done at the walk.
Holy smokes, he was not forward, and not responsive to my leg aids. Literally, my glutes and thighs were like jelly when I got off, just from pushing him forward. Every movement felt like I had to use all my strength.
This is not typical. Duke has been super lately, and these lateral movements are not new exercises. He should know them well.
It wasn’t until he was untacked and brushed that I realized…I didn’t put on my spurs. The entire ride, I rode as if I had spurs on. No wonder he didn’t respect my leg.
You could argue that he shouldn’t need spurs, he should go off of my leg, blah blah blah, but it’s just not Duke. In the other half of his life when I’m not riding him, he’s a lesson horse. He is fantastic at toting children around and teaching them the ropes. But that means he has to be a bit dull to aids sometimes.
Wearing spurs allows me to be softer and more direct in my aids. I’m the only one who rides him in them, and it’s because I’m the only one who asks him to do the hard work of collection, throughness, pushing from behind, lifting his back, bending, straightness, and so on. Duke doesn’t love hard work, and he’ll work exactly as hard as you make him. Also, for the record, my spurs are the tiniest little nubs I could find.
So no wonder he was so dull and slow and lazy last night. It’s my own fault for not putting on my spurs!