I finally got my 45ft line out again. That thing is so not my favorite. It really tears up my hands. But now that we've officially past our Online Level3+ it is time to move on.
I think its so funny that on occasion it takes me a while to listen to Linda's * advice. (she told me about feeding sunflower seeds and it took me like 2.5 years to try it. ... works like a magic pill) And she was completely convinced that tracking progress on an assessment sheet was key. Turns out she was right. Usually I'm pretty good about taking someone else's experience and learning from it...interesting.
Before I put Lil online I checked out connection by sending her off on the circling game at liberty. At the very start she tried to head off in the opposite direction than I had asked...its just amazing how getting her to maintain gait and maintain direction works like a charm to get her connected. And it's very quick when she's left brained right away. And if she's right brained .. much better to have her far far away.
It was kinda nifty that she is doing flying changes on her own so much now that we've been working on those for a few months. Cantering around the arena and maneuvering around obstacles she uses them a ton instead of dropping to trot.
After just a few canter laps without needing to correct her, ( I wonder if I should have gotten her to do more...not sure if I'm not asking enough there) I asked for a flying change right to left. . then left to right. Yahoo! Two in a row and maintain gait. First time that was really solid. Had to give her a hug for that.
Then I clipped on the 45. I was actually surprised at how out of practice we were. duh. Haven't played with longlines for like a year and a half. (see sometimes I can follow directions) Anyway...I thought point to point might be a good idea. Wow! We couldn't even walk straight! Eeeek. Poor Lil got a little starey at the lack of clarity on my part. But she did stay present and gave me a little leeway.
After a few minutes I finally got the clue to use follow the rail to fix the straightness issue. I had to slap my forehead on that one. Geeze. Worked perfectly. Helpful that she already knew the pattern. So I swiftly made it my goal to do two laps each way with a change of direction across the diagonal and then stop by getting on the pedestal. (happened to be very conveniently located at the end of the last diagonal)
I unclipped her on the pedestal because at first she was assuming that because I was in zone 5 I wanted her to back up.
What a good girl. It makes me feel so good when she tries for me even though I am messing it up in the beginning. I was just reading in the Mastery Manual* this month that your level of savvy is directly related to how good your body language is. Makes sense. Gotta keep that in mind always.
Ok so one of the big critiques that I got on my most recent audition is the same one that I got on the last one and the same on Pat gave me in Reno. "Your driving game needs improvement."
"You need to balance respect with rapport." (Rachel's* been on me for that since the beginning too) So on the way down to the round pen I was thinking of this and worked on stick to me a little bit. Stop back up..lets go forward! It was not the best. So I got a little firmer with my stick in front and behind. And tried to make it a game.."don't make me pick up the stick". Of course it worked very nicely and in a minute we were backing responsively up the hill. (decent hill too)
Into the round pen and hopped on bareback. (really just too lazy to get her dressed and also I thought it would keep me from getting too greedy and doing too much after she had already given me a lot) Worked on Don's checklist just with the carrot stick. (I'm so proud of myself for working on that. So resistant for many years. Just interested in other things. But again I am now following the list more) Our backup straight and go forward straight without having a shorter rein was not at all very good. Intersting because from a standstill we can back up just using my legs pretty well. It was really the stopping part that was an issue.
Kip was sitting just outside the roundpen to hang out with me. (which I love) He had the Leadership Mastery Manual out and was reading aloud. Brilliant. What a special hubby. And as he said: "These are bloody fabulous."
After a few tries we got it though. So I thought perhaps I would work on the checklist using the Porcupine Game* with the savvy string around her neck. It took a few tries and a little bit of working on my driving game...to get it. But we got a beautiful yield the forequarters 360 degrees each way. Excellent.
Just did follow the rail a tiny bit. (thank god because I had forgotten to take my Bodybugg www.bodybogg.com off again. It totally thinks the horses steps are my steps so it screws up my tally for the day). Worked on walk- trot- walk transitions, bending with the carrot stick to the outside for the downward transitions.
I wonder about using the carrot stick bending to the outside with Lil because we have worked so much and been recently so successful on our straightness on the circle.... don't want to have her getting bent to the outside thinking that's what I want.....Pat was mentioning in Reno (and has many times before) that we don't want to teach our horses unintentionally to be a bad banana.
Anyway I thought it was a great session, the greed prevention strategy was very effective because she has such a bony Thoroughbred back. Ouch! It hurts my bum!
My heart felt good when I went into the house and I was smiling as I fell asleep.....grateful.