Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I'm a Working Student for Laura Hermanson!

 I have some very exciting news! I've been offered a working student position with Laura Hermanson, a local rider. As you may remember, Laura Hermanson went to the last year's U.S. Dressage Finals with her mule, Dyna, the first rider to ever do so. She also owns the local tack shop, so I met her there. Just this past weekend, she offered me a position as working student, and today I went to see her! First, I told her about myself and my experience, then I met one of her mules, Moxie, a dark bay Thoroughbred mule trained through 3rd level. He's a big, sweet one.

  As a working student, I will help take care of her mules for her, brushing and tacking them, and maybe lunging them before she rides in exchange for lessons. I may even be a groom at shows. I will be learning almost constantly, and not just when riding. I'll learn the really important but often overlooked details of caring for the horse and being on the ground with them. I learned that from the time you take the horse(or mule in this case) out of the pasture, you are training him/her. Laura believes in setting the horse up for success and n asking the horse as lightly and subtly as possible, only increasing when needed. One really important thing she stressed as we talked is preparing the horse for anything you do, whether that means leading the horse, stopping, or riding. She demonstrated how she can lead the mules, halting or speeding up, using only her body language---mainly changing the way she breathes(inhaling deeply when going faster and healing to slow down) and creating more or less energy as needed. These things are small, almost imperceptible to people, but horses and mules notice them.
Laura and Moxie


 After demonstrating this with her mule, she let me try. She told me to focus on a spot, the walk purposefully to that place, creating energy as I prepared to go forward. I also walked back and forth, alternating between going slow, fast, even trotting a bit. It's something that takes a while to learn, but I was starting to get it. Personal space and respect are also very important things she mentioned, and Moxie is really good about it. To back an equine up, she simply walks toward him/her, adding energy if needed. There's no need to yank the lead rope.

 Next, she showed my how she tacks up. Again, she stressed the importance of preparing the horse,(mule) running her hands down the legs before putting the boots on. She also showed me the way she places the saddle so that it doesn't restrict the equine's movement. She taught me to feel the scapula(point of shoulder), placing the pad and saddle a bit behind it. This way, the shoulder is covered by the saddle. Then, she taught me the way she bridles, by gently turning Moxie's head toward her, lowering it a bit,   putting the bridle one. She showed me where the noseband should sit, two fingers under the cheekbone, and also where the brow band should be, by the indent over the eye. She taught me how to put the surcingle on, the showed me how she lunges.

Moxie and I.
 As she lunged, she used the same concept of changing the way she breathes and her body position to change the pace of Moxie. She prefers to lunge to train the horse to use his body properly and to build muscle without having the interference of a rider, rather than just to wear them out for get the bucks out. She wanted Moxie to find his balance in each and step underneath himself with his hind legs. Every time Moxie did this in the trot, she would quietly ask for canter, working him just a few circles until he balanced properly, even for a bit, then returning to trot. She also gave him time to stretch. By the end I began to see when he became relaxed and balanced. Laura can tell just by lunging how her ride will be and what to work on. This is just a brief, not so in depth summary of what I learned about lunging. When she was done, I untacked Moxie, helped Laura brush him, led him to his paddock. Laura showed my how she puts her equines away by simply standing out the gait and having them turn around to face her.

  To start out with, I'll be going maybe twice a week to work. I can tell I'll be learning a lot. I will be taking lesson on her 17 year old mare(not a mule), but more in depth on that later as this post is long. I'm really excited about this!

20 comments:

  1. Wow, that's great! What an amazing opportunity!

    ReplyDelete
  2. what an incredible opportunity! congratulations!!! i am incredibly envious and wish you the best of success!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm really excited about this amazing opportunity! Thank you!

      Delete
  3. What a great opportunity! I wish I'd learned more about groundwork when I first started out, but now is better than never!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah I'm really excited! I'm starting to learn that groundwork affects how the horse is when ridden. If he disrespects you on the ground, he will under saddle.

      Delete
  4. AMAZING NEWS! I'm so jealous you get to learn about mules!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Mules are pretty fascinating! I'll share what I learn.

    ReplyDelete
  6. congratulations! this is an awesome opportunity for you - can't wait to hear about everything you get to do and learn!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I'll be sharing all the neat things I learn!

      Delete
  7. Yay!! So excited for all that you'll get to learn.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wow, very cool Congratulations and I loved hearing about all you learned.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I'm glad you enjoy reading about what I learn.

      Delete

Thank you for reading this post! I love to hear from and interact with my readers; it's what makes blogging worth it, so please comment and let me know what you think.