Our loading routine is getting really smooth. First I prep everyone's breakfast and put Guinness' into a little rubber bowl in the trailer manger. Then I halter G. and bring him out of the pasture to let him eat grass while I put his boots on. Next, I put on his web halter (w. breakaway strap for the trailer) on top of his rope halter. I loop the 12' rope over his neck and send him onto the trailer where he "discovers" his breakfast, and I tie through the access window using a Blocker Tie Ring. This morning, he about ran me over trying to get onto the trailer!
When we arrived at the stable, we found that there were now three jumps set up, plus some ground poles. After removing his boots, I let him explore at liberty while I retrieved our stuff. I set the 1/2 barrels up for figure-8 pattern practice, and lowered the jump rails.
We played for awhile at liberty, including Guinness jumping all three jumps in a row without knocking anything down!
He caught me and I tacked him up with a halter and bareback pad. Then we went onto the 22' line and played Circling Game with a slack line. (His back and send have dramatically improved. Next goal will be increasing the number of repetitions.) Figure 8s also went very well, and included some trotting/cantering! I stood about 17' away from the barrels. We also played again with the weave poles and with a small flag, and with sending into a stall and then backing out.
Next, I put the barrels in 2 corners of the arena. He'd already been very interested in them, demonstrating that he remembered the treats that he'd discovered in them last time. I stepped up on the mounting block and he came to get me. I mounted (not too gracefully) from the off side and he didn't make any faces! We walked to the first barrel and I realized that I hadn't arranged the other two barrels, so I dismounted on the off side and moved them. Then he picked me up again and this time I mounted from the near side.
I had reviewed the new L2 Freestyle DVD this morning before our session, so I bravely rode with the 12' rope as one rein - and I lived! As directed, I arranged the rope so that it was on the outside of his neck, but I held it in my inside hand and then could use my outside hand to guide him back to the rail. I lifted my inside hand straight forward at shoulder level and "smiled" to go. I exhaled and relaxed to stop. This went pretty well and he eagerly moved forward toward the barrels. I did try to skip ahead and ask for a faster gait, which involved spanking the air, and twice he did a little hop like he was going to canter, but then resumed a fast walk. After that, we ended the session, loaded back up, and returned home.
I realize now that I need to really get the "follow the rail" (or at least the point-to-point with the barrels) pattern better ingrained before we speed things up. If he offers, I'll take it, but I shouldn't rush him into it. Also, I suspect that in my eagerness to go faster, I leaned forward too much. I need to just relax and let it come more naturally. The best news was that the one-rein riding was a non-issue as soon as we got moving!!
Goals for next time:
- Circles with good back, send, slack in line - 2 times around.
- Figure 8 from 22' away (try to keep my feet inside a hula hoop)
- Yo-yo in and out of the stall from 22' away without turning around inside stall
- Keeping his feet really still while tacking up
- Having him really relax into my hand when I pick up his hooves, while facing his rump
- More Freestyle point-to-point with the 1/2 barrels (increase to three laps around the arena in both directions), riding with 1-rein, at a walk
On this new routine, we are progressing double-time!!