Photo by Margaret Chant and edited by Jessica Metropulos

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Neat Online Stuff

It's been raining like mad here again, go figure, so The past 3 days, again, have kept my playtime to a minimum and it's making me sad. Fortunately, the forecast seems to be looking clear and sunny for the next week or so, so the lake that is our farm should start to try up, FINALLY!

Had a beautifully progressive online day with Prin today. Started out feeling REALLY unmotivated, it was chilly, despite the sunshine, and I had a hard time getting going, which I'm sure my LBI appreciated ;)

Prin and I started out playing with improving draw. That was not my original plan, but Prin actually showed me that that is what we needed to play with. We spent about 10 minutes being really particular with our yoyo to the end of the 45' line, and I spent some time teaching Prin to REALLLY put effort into her draw. I've been able to draw her to me at the walk, trot, and on a good day, at the canter, but she's never put effort into it, and I've always maintained drag on the rope to bring her energy up. Kind of an obnoxious BFO for me, realizing that part of the reason her draw at liberty is so sticky is because I use my rope in drawing her online any faster than a walk. Anyway, she and I spent a little time at it, and by the end found that we could play a little game of dance and anticipation, one step forward, one step back, etc, without my having to touch the rope. A ton of fun, really, and got her energy up in a playful way, not in a "just cuz mom asked" sort of way.

Next, we moved onto a little circling game--that's our most broken game in L4, maintaining rhythm, relaxation, and contact, at 35-45 feet out, usually at the upper gaits. I opted to look for quantity, instead of quality this time, seeing how many laps of canter she'd give me, build it, and see what kind things I could help through improving quality as well (Biomechanics, etc)--I was quit surprised not only to get 4 laps at the VERY END of the 45' line in each direction RIGHT AWAY, but also to find that other than a little stickiness in the first half lap each way, that she also maintained realllllyyy nice rhythm, relaxation, and contact, throughout. I think she would have given me more, too, but I brought her in before she realized she wanted to come in. Totally cool to see the improvements from being more particular up close--I'm anticipating a BIG breakthrough any day with it!

Next, we played a bit with quality of circle--Prin's flexion has improved a ton even since we passed L3, but I know the standard Pat is looking for in a L4 audition, and she's just a little shy, yet. Not her fault, either, more mine for not being more particular in the earlier stages of development! Anyway, something Farrah's really emphasized (and I've stubbornly ignored, for whatever the reason) is the importance of longitudinal flexion on the ground. If you've ever watched her play with Caesar, you'll see him CONSTANTLY flexed over the top on his circles at trot, especially. I've started to teach Prin this several times, lost faith in humanity because it requires so much quiet persistence, and quit. I'm so not a LBI when it comes to teaching details! Anyway, today, for whatever reason, I felt emotionally fit enough to play with it, and the results were PHENOMENAL. By the end, going to the right (her difficult side!) she was stretching down at least a foot (goal is nose essentially on the ground), and breathing rhythmically at about 12' of line. That, for her, is remarkable! I was so proud, and I know she felt brilliant--she sent me the feeling too! We were both probably thinking "Why didn't we try this before?!"

Finally, I did a little one-rein long lining, but with the rein on the opposite side to me. This makes her essentially at liberty, since I physically cannot micromanage where her head goes and when from that position. My goal is eventually to be able to play with her like that on the circle w/t/c at the end of the 45' line with no brace, as well as do sideways to and from, and draw various zones to me--that'll be my "given" to go to large-area liberty, when we can do all that with slack. As it is now, we've got really great connection at walk/trot circles, sideways to and from, as well as drawing zone 5 at a max of 15-20 feet away. Not a bad start, but something we'll need to continue building on before we go playing at liberty in any big fields.

Prin was all smiles during this session--we played with transitions and building a faster, longer zone 5 draw, and she kept reminding me again and again of how clever she is. I love her so much when she's in a mood like that--she gets adorably cocky, and we just tease back and forth. Very fun.

So...that's pretty much what we've been up to--we'll be ready to audition L4 online shortly, I'm sure, but just taking things at the speed she needs to at this point.

We'll keep ya posted!


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