Labor day weekend was busy. And, the list is not done. The dogs are not washed, the carpet isn’t cleaned, but 4 pastures are mown, the composted manure pile is spread, the horses were all ridden, a hose rack installed in the wash stall, a multitude of little things done, and Pat did his usual re-sculpting of something…this weekend it was working on the front walk and stone wall. He didn’t like the last iteration, so it is undergoing a redesign.
On Bali, last night, I tried to play with something I’d read on the internet…for more forward.
Choose a point in the arena (or field) and ask ONCE for your horse to move towards said point. Ask him for a specific gait however do NOT nag him, no matter how fast or slow he moves within that gait to get to said point.
When you arrive at said point, halt and allow him to rest – the longer he took to get there, the longer the rest break he is permitted. I realise this sounds contrary however it DOES work…reverse psychology. If he has trouble standing still at first, that’s ok – just correct and keep asking him to stay on/return to that spot until he stands better than he did a moment before. Expect a lot but reward little. Ask increasingly more each time (ie. reward a short halt however ask for more and more each stop and ask him to move out before HE wants to). If he is fine with standing, throw some droop in the rein at him and allow him to stand quietly, then move on after a good rest.
After a sufficient rest, turn him around and ask him to move towards another random point in the arena (ie. letter) or field (ie. spot on the ground). DO NOT NAG.
Continue the exercise until he is moving out immediately after your ask; after a few times he should start anticipating your request and WANT to move out promptly upon your request.
Well, I played with it and played with it, and while the walk might have had a few moments of improvement early on, it was not very successful. First off, Bali is content to stand with me on her back all day long. She’ll stand on a loose rein, she’ll stand on the bit, she is fond of hanging out with her people. I guess part of the problem is that Bali is perfectly willing to go, but she is just a C student. As far as she is concerned, a C is a passing grade and those A’s, which would look “brilliant” look like an awful lot of work. There is probably a reason that we’ve had comments such as “Needs ambition” and “lazy” on the free walk in tests. So, I didn’t feel that we were getting anywhere. Now, perhaps I need to do this for hours, but I’d say we played with it for a solid 15 minutes. And, well, without the original clinician, no doubt, something might have gotten lost in translation.
Probably more worthwhile for me would be to figure out how to get an electric seat. Some people seem to have a “jazz them up” seat when they ride, I seem to have some serious “whoa” when I ride. Did I get this from years of no saddle riding? Or is it from years of TBs, who would have loved to be over-reactive? As I’m a pretty hyper person, it is contrary to what most expect.
Many years ago, I worked on reining my energy in, during a Mark Rashid clinic. I was working on downward transitions and halts. What he noticed was that my energy was way out in ahead of my horse and no wonder she would brace and try to catch up with where my energy was. So, I spent a lot of time and focus on bringing that energy back, to center. And, I’ve been thinking, downward transitions, those are always easier than the upward transitions. So, it is time to start thinking about what I need to do to improve those, refigure out how to send my energy out ahead for my horse to follow, and I’m thinking that this will tie in nicely to more forward and engaged.
That, and figure out how to refine the seat aids for upward transitions. Not leg…seat. And make sure that my seat says go, when my leg says go, because I think I must have a bit of residual whoa left when I ask for go.