Saturday, June 13, 2009

Riding Lesson with Kelly Sigler

Last Wednesday, I was fortunate to participate in a group lesson with Kelly Sigler, 3-star PNH instructor. The lesson was held at Broadview Ranch in Lexington, Va. (The photo featured at the top of my blog was taken in one of their lovely, huge fields.) Three of my fellow Parelli Play Group members also participated in the lesson.

All of us have been having Level 2 riding issues, even though we've all been doing PNH for years.. I had my last lesson with Kelly just over a year ago on Smokey, and unfortunately, I felt as though we hadn't made much progress since then. I can blame several factors including trying to play with multiple horses and feeling burned out by Smokey's seemingly endless RBI issues, but the truth is that I haven't been putting in much time with him.

My friend Sara and I hauled our horses up to Lexington together and arrived sometime after 1:00 pm. Our friends Tenley & Jan were already there. It was about 85 degrees, sunny and humid, so we were all feeling pretty sluggish. We turned the horses out and had some lunch, then went to play unmounted with the toys in the arena. Next, Sara & I took our horses for a little trail walk which seemed to perk them up.

We returned to the arena and turned the horses loose in a small paddock, only to discover that our lesson was in 20 minutes! We scrambled back to the trailer to grab our saddles and then went back to coerce our horses into getting tacked back up again just about the time that Kelly arrived back from a clinic with the O'Conners at the Lexington Horse Center.

Our lesson started with lateral flexion, indirect rein/hindquarter yield, and direct rein/forehand exercises. Then we each practiced figure 8 patterns around small cones while riding with one rein and a carrot stick (all horses wearing halters). Then we tried them w/o reins. Surprisingly, I found that Smokey was pretty energetic following the reining exercises and was eager to move around the cones. I discovered that it was actually easier for me to direct him with just the stick and no reins, then with the reins and stick. (He fights being guided with the reins and I tend to pop out of my seat.) This was an excellent confidence booster for both of us!!

Next we all practiced follow-the-rail. We were supposed to do 10 steps of trot followed by 10 steps of walk, but we were having trouble enough just staying by the fence. Smokey decided to argue with me and tried to rub me along the fence against some projecting boards and got the saddle and right stirrup caught. (I immediately had a flashback to my wreck with Parlay where she got her rein caught around my stirrup and bucked me off..) Smokey threw his head up with the whites of his eyes showing, but he stopped dead and asked me what to do. Yeah! I took a deep breath and asked him to back up about 3 steps and he got unhooked. Whew.. After that, he was more willing to let me direct him.

The upshot is that I went into the lesson feeling discouraged and frustrated, and I left the lesson feeling motivated and successful. And I have a new Savvy "arrow" for my quiver - my carrot stick. Yes, I had tried riding with the carrot stick in the past, but now that I'm finally riding in L2 again, it is time to be using it as a serious tool. I was amazed at how LBI Smokey was behaving in the lesson and how easily he accepted being guided with the stick. (Even though he ran into it a few times!)

Today, I got outside early and decked Guinness out in the biggest saddle that I have. We then played on the 22' over several obstacles and attempted to play circling game. (I have to admit I feel frustrated that the 22' rope kept getting wrapped around both of our feet. I have never had so much trouble with it. I think that it is because Guinness tends to stay so close to me. We need to practice more.)

Next, Cody volunteered to play. I took him at liberty into the field to play with obstacles. Then he sidled up to a barrel in the roundpen and I mounted bareback (with him in a halter). We rode around the roundpen and the field playing with obstacles and doing lots of backing and sideways attempts. Not once did he oink or act grouchy! Here is a photo taken from Cody's back.

Later this evening, I got Smokey to join up with me and we did some obstacles at liberty. Then he followed me to the roundpen where we tacked up and he sidled up to let me mount. I rode him without reins the entire session! (His leadline was looped and tied to his halter, but I hooked it over the pommel of the saddle and didn't touch them.) He did great with the carrot stick doing figure 8s and follow-the-rail. He even cantered, stopped and backed. I love riding him this way - no arguments with the reins. We will try again tomorrow. :-)

1 comment:

Michelle AKA arabhorselover1 said...

I am so happy that you are finding creative and fun ways to enjoy the horses this year. You are really doing a lot of great stuff! (Wish I could join ya.)