Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A new technique with the faux-ssoa

Yesterday morning it was 65 degrees. Today we woke up to this:

Considering the temperature dropped over 35 degrees in less than 12 hours, with a 17 degree windchill (what?!?) and Charlie was in all day yesterday because it was downpouring, I didn't think it would be wise to hop on and go without at least a little lunge session so instead I opted to put him in the faux-ssoa rig. I shouldn't have worried; he was perfectly calm (which is why I felt safe attempting Part II of my ride, as you'll see below).

I rigged it up using a surcingle that we were using on the draft horses, just to see if it would work. Guess what, while it wasn't a perfect fit but it definitely wasn't huge! I had Charlie do a nice trot in both directions, waiting until he relaxed and stretched down before changing directions. He has a hard time with the idea of "forward" when he's wearing the faux-ssoa.

That's a draft-sized surcingle....and a Kate Taylor custom saddle pad :)
Then, since he seemed to be getting the idea of how to use his back while in the rig, I decided to hop on him and try riding him around while it was still on and see what happened. I wanted to try to connect ground to saddle work. It was a little weird at first but it actually worked. I unclipped the upper part of the rig and used it like reins but left the side pieces attached like side reins for lateral boundary support.

By riding him with my hands lightly down by my knees I could help encourage the rounding by providing constant light pressure, but still be able so adjust pressure as needed for balance. I let the hind and side sections of the rig remind him to tuck his butt underneath him as well as not bulge out with his shoulders. It actually worked really well!

Non-traditional and it's not something I'll do all the time (it is pretty limited in what it can accomplish and I think I can do a lot more with draw reins), but I think it helped make the connection for him. I just let him have his head and pushed him forward as he tried to run out and get hollow and then when I added a little pressure and he responded by leaning forward and stretching into it, I released into a light continuing contact. Once he got it we had a lovely round slow trot around the ring.

(Excuse me while I relish in one small moment here: My TB let me climb on him bareback with all that rigging and trot around with nothing but a halter. Can you say proud!) :)


  1. I am so jealous of the bareback-ness! That's awesome though. So... First weekend in June I'm taking off for Tri-State... Buuuuut maybe I could come visit instead?

  2. What a good boy :) I hope my young horses are cool with things like that when the time comes!