Putting the Buttons Back On

When I made the decision to partially lease May out, I also made the decision to soften some of May’s buttons. I didn’t want someone else to get on her and have to deal with accidentally pushing buttons they didn’t mean to push. All that could do is end up frustrating both the new rider and May.

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So I trained May to go forward and straight, on the contact. That’s pretty much it. Did it mean that the issue of her not connecting properly to the outside rein going right came back? Yup. Did it also mean that her shoulders mostly stayed in line and she was easy to steer? Yup.

With the half leaser taking her first Dressage lesson tonight with my trainer, I decided to throw those buttons back on and tune them back up. It took about two rides haha.

photo mar 08, 18 24 16

Last night, I rode May under the lights of the outdoor for the first time. (Thanks Daylight Savings… more like daylight wasting) She was really good, and I was able to move her body parts all independently. We had a very brief and not at all dramatic discussion about her moving off of my right rein and leg and into my left rein and leg, and that was it.

I sat the trot and got some decent shoulder in and leg yield work. We stepped into the canter. The first canter transition in both directions was fairly lackluster with her definitely leading with her inside shoulder instead of stepping under with the outside hind to push into the canter. I did a quick downward transition, reestablished connection, pushed her shoulder out, asked again, and had a much better transition.

We played with the circle of death set up at one end of the ring, but after about 20 minutes of work, I realized that I had accomplished what I had set out to do. So I hopped off and gave her some cookies. In May’s world, it was a pretty good day!

What about you? Have you ever “untuned” your horse for one reason or another?

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13 thoughts on “Putting the Buttons Back On

  1. We have no buttons to put on or remove but I agree it is good to keep it simple if different people are riding the horse. I hope the dressage lesson for May and new rider (forgot her name LOL) goes well. So exciting.

    And again May is so good I am sure all will be fine. How nice that you can install and reinstall buttons like that 😉

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  2. Frankie’s buttons have been completely uninstalled due to lack of fitness! I test them every so often so I know they’re still in there, but I intentionally have stopped asking for anything beyond basic obedience since I knew I wouldn’t have time to maintain anything else. It makes him very easy for pretty much anyone to ride (if they can get him moving haha), but I’m excited to tune him back in and leg him up to be shmancy again.

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  3. the analogy of horses having “buttons” has never really worked for me, idk why. i tend to think about the same concept in slightly different words: that the horse has a conditioned response to the aids, and the response is strengthened by practice and repetition. tho the same response can still be achieved without practice or on an unschooled or unfit horse by experienced application of the aids. when your horse is a lug like charlie, tho, there isn’t a whole lot of risk associated with an unfamiliar rider getting on and accidentally shooting off into tempis or piaffe or half pass or whatever haha. honestly i spend almost every moment in the saddle trying to get him *more* sharp and hot lol…. maybe one day!

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    1. Hahaha! Because May is built the way she is, a lot of our flat work has been focused on creating flexibility and strength (yoga). Unfortunately, that means that my leg being slightly back = haunches moving over, closing my knees is a serious half halt, closing one knee asks that shoulder to move slower and over, etc etc etc.

      When for someone new, I just wanted her to follow her ears at a reasonable pace for a new person. As the western people would say, Broke vs. Fancy Broke. Easier said than done I think!

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  4. With Duke it’s more of an issue of constantly maintaining and/or reinstalling buttons. He’s used in lessons and my trainer’s daughter who is 11 and used to riding a naughty pony now rides him on my off days so…I’m pretty much the only one who makes him do actual correct work. Most rides start with me reminding him that, yes, he DOES have to go forward and continue going forward until I tell him to do something else lol.

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  5. Georgie’s buttons have definitely been undone by her new rider and the fact that she isn’t doing much. But it’s fun to start working on them again. Like May, she remembers what she is SUPPOSED to be doing.
    And one day maybe June will have buttons….

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    1. I am sure that fitness has a lot to do with it too. The more fit she is, the much more quickly she is able to respond to my aids.

      June will get there. 😉 Baby horses like to pretend the buttons mean different things every other ride.

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