Monday, April 12, 2010

No Drama

This morning, Guinness and I headed back over to the indoor arena, after a day of rest on Sunday.

There were no majorly dramatic occurrences, and we met most of my goals for the day, plus a few other tasks:
  • Yo-Yo in and out of a stall at 20'
  • Backing out to the end of the 22' and then continuing to back (with him 22' away from me as I walked toward him) until he arrived at a 1/2 barrel and got a treat. We did this twice across the short length of the arena.
  • Half-circle to Sideways along a fence at 20' - most effective when I pointed the stick right at his middle and then shifted it to point whatever part of him got "stuck"
  • Circles at the walk with a great back & send, and slack in the line - at least 1.5 times around per send, both directions
  • Figure 8 around 1/2 barrels at 20' feet, with my leading foot only leaving the hula hoop at the moment of resending out and around each barrel
  • Point-to-point mounted, around the arena at a walk, 2x each direction, passing some barrels w/o treats (I had created a "path" for him between barrels by setting some jump rails parallel to the fence leaving a passage about 5 feet wide)
  • Picking hooves and tacking up practice
  • Dismounting by first placing both of my legs over his rump (preparing him for me to eventually dismount by sliding off his rump)
I cannot over emphasize how changing the way that I hold and coil the 22' has improved my rope handling and thus my enthusiasm for using the 22' line. Instead of bunching it up to avoid it wrapping around my hand, I now loop it correctly in medium sized loose coils and hold in my non-leading hand (per the new L3 On-line DVD). I spent about an hour the other day coiling and tossing the coils out, to better get the hang of it. This has really helped me to get a better feel for it, and will also prepare me to handle the 45' line.

The one-rein riding guidance in the new L2 Freestyle DVD is also really helping me. It is more complex than you'd think to allow the rein to be on the outside of the horses neck (on the rail side) while holding it with my inside hand, and using my outside hand merely for cues and to guide G. back to the rail. However, I can really see how all of this is establishing a foundation (and great habits) for both Guinness and ME to build on.

I'm increasingly thankful that I've never had the $ for riding lessons. I seem to have way fewer "traditional" riding habits to discard than other folks. And to think that I'd always felt so disadvantaged.. ;-)

Next time:
  • more precision with "go vs. whoa" while mounted
  • follow the rail 3x around in each direction at the walk, with intermittent treats at barrels (at corners) only when I ask him to stop
  • simple changes of direction along rail
  • desensitization with carrot stick while mounted
  • more Sideways at 22'
  • more Figure 8 at 22' with my feet within hula hoop
  • ride naked (no bareback pad)
  • ride with carrot stick and 1 rein
  • dismount over rump
  • change of gait during follow-the-rail
  • Sideways from 12' out to 22' without me moving my feet
The plan is for us to return to the indoor arena in the mornings on Tuesday & Wednesday. Then on Thursday, a playdate is in the works at a friend's arena with possibly 4 other horses. On Friday afternoon, I'm hoping to go on a "training trail ride" with a friend and her steady little 4 year old Haflinger gelding.

I love spring.

PS - Since Guinness is a Left Brained sort of guy, we tend to start out our sessions at Liberty by playing the Catching Game, after he has explored the arena. If he isn't in the mood to hang out with me yet, I tend to drive him from a distance (to encourage his thought) and utilize outside turns (to build respect).

Bear in mind that this in not a small space, so in no way does he feel forced or trapped. As soon as he looks at me and asks to come in, I accept it.

This just seems to be a more natural and polite way to build up to our play session then jumping straight into me moving him around online. I'll have to blog about it more someday.

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