Along for the Ride – WEG Prep August 20, 2018

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and nationally competitive rider.

Well, we were due for a different day – so far it’s been all “yay, everything is amazing.” Today, notsomuch. Not that it was a bad day, it actually was proof that Oscar is really good at learning what I’m teaching him!

I’ve been doing so many rectangles and not running from fence to fence, that when I put my hand down today to run from fence to fence (what we call fencing – it’s not about using the fence to stop our horses, it’s about getting them to think that they are going to run all the way to the fence so the run is good (using anticipation to our benefit). If your run is not good, your stop will not be good. When you say the word Whoa, you want your horse gaining ground, running uphill. If you stop in the same place every time, they anticipate in a negative way and your run gets shorter and shorter and sometimes they will even “scotch” or really hesitate and stutter. This really messes up the stop. Therefore, we want the horses to anticipate running to the fence.) Anyway, when I put my hand down and in essence said, “Where do you want to go?” Oscar’s reply was – I want to go to the side fence – please.

I had built too much anticipation of him turning instead of running to the fence. So, today, I had to uninstall that little feature. So, I spent the good part of an hour asking him where he wanted to go, letting him go there and then doing some work there. Then I’d put him back where I wanted him and let him rest. The work to rest ratio was about 1:2 so for as long as I worked him, I rested twice as long. After a while, Warwick suggested that the work I was doing (4 circle exercise) was not changing his mind, so I had to step up the work. So, I worked on my spins and some sidepassing and a bit tighter 4 circles.

There were no ill feelings, no sweat (neither of us), no cussing, nothing other than a bit of a lesson in mindfulness and patience. After the corrections, I got one fence to fence at the walk – it was a start. A couple more fixes at the lope and then he actually started to lope towards the side fence and fixed himself. Then a couple more times of fixing and one perfect fence to fence at a lope. I stopped, got off and gave him a cuddle. This was the longest I’ve ever ridden Oscar!

I’m not concerned about this at all. Honestly, Oscar is fine just the way he is and has always been, so if I can improve him just a bit, then I’m happy.

Warwick was riding Petey during this time, circling and checking on his slow down. Also stopping him. He pulled a front shoe so he had to do some repairs. He got that fixed, finished up and was still done before me!

I had to run and do errands before our photo shoot, so I went to town while Warwick rode Sherlock.

When I got home, he was all excited! “I figured him out”. All of the problems that Sherlock has from his shoulders are due to tightness in his body, the usual shoulder corrections unfortunately made him tighter which was a vicious circle. So, he had to figure out how to ask him to do something that would cause his shoulders to stand up without him getting tight and it worked like a charm. I think his decision is leaning towards Sherlock a little more every day.

The Horse & Rider photo shoot went as photo shoots usually do – let’s just say that unless I can become clairvoyant and read Warwick’s mind, then photos and videos are not the most comfortable times. This is why he has a robot camera and a son who do most of his videoing ;)

We are off to the show tomorrow, so I will likely do a multi-day post when we get home.