Thursday, July 30, 2009

Impromptu Private Lesson

The other two riders scheduled for my lesson time did not show so I was able to get a nice private lesson instead. I like my group lessons and I never feel like KAT isn't giving me enough attention, but I go through these cycles of riding on my own a lot and I get to a point where I'm not sure what to do and during a group lesson isn't really a time to ask my dumb questions. For example, we've been working on halting and staying calmly in frame and awaiting the next instruction. I only started working on this with him just before the show on June 20th and we had a good 3 or 4 weeks without much work in between there so this is still a new lesson. When we halt he tends to pick his head right up (hollow out his back) and start looking around, even bringing his nose around to my feet. I pull him back towards center and release the pressure when he moves to center. I just keep messing with him until he stands correctly then I drop the reins. He's started to toss his head lately so we ended up spending a lot of the lesson on that. His halt was quicker in general today.

The other thing we worked on was our ever slacking lope. His speed continues to get better, his frame continues to get better, but he still needs a lot of management or he drops shoulders all over the place and veers in random directions. He's also tossing his head a the lope some and it's scary to me because he does it high enough to get a rein over his head if I'm one-handed. We're going to stay two-handed until he quits that so I can get my hands wide and drive him into the bit when he thinks he wants to toss.

I sometimes get nervous blogging about the types of training things I'm doing. I've been lucky enough not to be flamed or visited by trolls, but I'm sure there are people reading this who disagree with things I do or that KAT does. We were talking today about a rider at the barn who we think is in general too rough on her horses. I acknowledge that there is more than one way to to most anything. I know I'm going to make mistakes (and have) with Junior, but I feel there's a time and a place for rough handling and that's when it's either be rough with the horse, or the horse is going to keep doing something dangerous. Like when he was pinning his rear into the corner of his stall and refusing to move over and then pushed back against me when I walked behind him. That called for a little rough handling. When he reaches out to bite, that requires some rough handling. But in general I try for positive reinforcement and making the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard. Like when he doesn't respond when I ask him with my inside leg to go back to the wall I should stop him and make him sidepass or pivot so he learns that if he responds right away all he has to do is veer over and if he doesn't he'll have to work harder. I know it's all basic stuff, but I'm pretty new at this training thing.

KAT and I spent some time talking about how far he's come in 11 months. I'm so excited to see how he'll be in another 11 months! I really want to get another video to show you how he's moving now. SOOO different from the November video!

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