Tuesday, August 4, 2009

and I'm still high on our ride

Well, it was about as good as it gets with Lil night before last.

Again we started at Liberty*. A few flying changes which were nice. Then I asked her to go out and circle. After a couple laps she came back in to me. She had a soft expression on her face but I thought about being a better leader and working on my driving game......

So I made a bigger effort sending her. Giving a little smack on the bum with the string as she moped out. That worked! She went off and did 15 laps each way!!!!! yahoooo! (now clearly I read her correctly at that time...but I'm not exactly sure that that strategy will work with her most of the time. I don't know...I guess I'll just have to use my best guess each time.)

Time to dress up. Took me 3 tries to put the saddle on. She stands still but when I reach under to get the girth sometimes she lifts a hind leg. Don* reminded me that that is NOT passing the stand still for saddling test. So I took it off and tried again and then again until she did not give me that resistance.

She turned her head away when I took the bridle off the fence...so I physically retreated until she turned back to me. Bridling went perfectly after that. Then....I walked over to the fence..got up on it and called her. She came over! This is a very good sign as she does not always do it. Nigel usually does. And he marches. Lil comes over very slowly.

Stand still for mounting? check. Walk out to the center....and I figured I'd do the forequarter, hindquarter yields and walk forward straight backup straight with just the Savvy String. Excellent.

Walked around just a bit...light was running out. So we did some trots Finesse* style. Not collected really. Just connected. Kip was out there with me. (love love love it) He suggested that I ask her to do a half a 20 meeter circle in a small trot and a half in a medium trot. This was actually brilliant because of course transitions are a beautiful thing and this accommodated Lil's horsenality really well as it didn't change too too fast.

I stuck with that until I didn't have to use anything but a change in energy in my body to make the transitions. Man how making a pattern out of it works. Then to the bullseye of the circle for a moment of rest and a treat.

Canter has been a big thing for us because it's taken her so long to get physically and mentally relaxed in it. Doing so much canter Online* and at Liberty* has changed everything. So my goal was 4 laps each direction. Started with a few transitions within the trot then asked her out of that. Really nice forward no issues going into the canter. Not perfect. But willing.

I started to the right and at first I was getting one to one and a half laps before breaking gait. I try to not ever make her feel wrong when we're working on canter. I totally err on the side of caution on that one. Its been so emotional for her for soooooooo long. So when she did break gait I chalked it up to my fault not doing enough sooner and just started again. Buuuut, I also wanted to be a good leader and stick to my plan.

What ended up working was just making sure I paid very close attention to a drop in energy on her part (downward transition within the gait) and fixed it then by re asking her to go. (upward transition within the gait). Yahooo! Got it to the right.

Going left she had figured out what I wanted and so was putting in quite an effort. The thing was it was more of a hand gallop. Not really getting faster and faster but not really a soft canter either. I didn't want to be picky about the speed...its just that I frankly am worried about her getting off balance, tripping and falling on her head.

My decision was to stay really relaxed and fluid in my body but to do a one second half halt on the shoulder that felt like it needed it. In this case it was the outside shoulder. She was falling into the circle with the left so my instinct said to slowdown the right. Tada! Super. I felt like I wasn't really disturbing her but just got in and out when she needed me.

I felt REALLY REALLY good about those canters. Walking along the rail (using Karen Rohlf's idea about neutral within the walk) she was blowing and blowing and licking her lips. La la la. Faaaabulous.

I usually want to do a few trots to fix any impulsion issues that might have cropped up. And I did need to do some 10 meeter circles using one rein to get back to a self regulated working trot. I wondered if I could just use my Savvy String to stop and back up. YAY! I hopped down, undressed, gave some big long scratches (I remember when I couldn't find any itchy spots) even under her udder...savvy string around the neck, marched back into her room and that was that. Super.

I love it when I have to take a day or two break and I can live off a great last session. That is the best.

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