This is the tricky part after all. Our horses are dynamic not static.
Lil and I went up to the arena pretty happily. She rolled right away which is a good sign. When she seemed ready to do something, I sent her out on a circle at Liberty*. She maintained gait, direction and connection and started to blow out within a few laps. When she came back though she didn't want to touch me when I put my hand out. (read Right Brained*) I waited until she could. Then scratched her withers which she got into (read Left Brained*).
I figured we should check out our Figure 8 Pattern Online*. Oh man. In my lesson Linda called me out for moving my stick too quickly. I seriously don't even lift it! But even thought it doesn't raise off the ground....I move it to the side at the same time as giving the cue with my direction hand. And crap! Its not an easy habit to break! Linda suggested I might need to put a bell on my stick like there used to be in the Blue Level Two pack. I'm thinking I may need a car alarm to go off.
Lil was not going around the cones at first. I allowed her to work on it for a bit but when she seemed to have lost the plot I sent Zone 1*. I got the ears back for a second...shoot!..I must have asked too loudly. Of course she went around the cone but then straight away got stuck coming through the change of direction. Once through the middle she would start to trot...come around the cone and stop for a second before heading through the middle again. I'm so glad Linda pointed out the mental tension in her hesitation to come through the middle. Its so subtle....that is the part that is broken and yet I hadn't been conscious enough to isolate it. We just kept on until she could walk softly, ears relaxed and not get stuck.
When she came back to me it was not with Zone 1 ...it was kinda with her shoulder. So I sat on a barrel and waited. She blew out softly but had the secret lip licking. She cocked a leg but didn't touch me or start to rub on me. She looked sleepy. She had been on grass for 3 hours. It was the time of day she usually takes a nap...but I wasn't sure. Then her lower lip started to sag. Ha! Had to be Left Brained! I had waited it out!!!!! ...right?
I saddled her without any resistance...played some cantering circles over the barrels...a little sideways at the trot on the circle...nice stretchy, relaxed..a few changes of direction... all good. Brought her in. She blew out softly and licked...but none of her tongue came out of her mouth. I started to get a little suspicious.
I had asked Linda about this in my lesson....this...uncertainty. She reminded me that she used to make sure that she couldn't blow Allure up before she rode him. I wanted to be sure so I thought I'd try some canter gallop transitions on the circle Online*. I asked for gallop...nothing happened...I waived the flag in Zone 5*.....KABLOOOIE! Now we had gallop...and a few bucking horse quality crow hops. There was one I didn't think I could've ridden.
Now I had a Right Brained Extrovert on a string. Enter my handy dandy new strategy from Linda. Encourage the gallop for a lap and try to keep my feet still! No adding motion to the commotion. I feel like I had improved on that one and I think it helped. Then, I'd get neutral in my body for a lap. When she wanted to relax and slow down I allowed her to. We had to repeat this about three times. Finally she could canter...then gallop without melting down.
Suddenly Lil started blowing out for real. With conviction!!!!! She started licking and two inches of tongue appeared. She itched her leg and started swishing gnats.
I hopped on and we had a great ride. We had a perfect sweat pattern, she rolled at my feet, frisked me for treats and swung away at the walk the whole way down to the barn. Thanks Linda for giving me that extra strategy to roll with the change up. Savvy equals safety right?.... pheeeew!
*See the Glossary at the bottom of the page.