Photo by Margaret Chant and edited by Jessica Metropulos

Friday, February 19, 2010

...and Fun Was Had by All

Today has been an absolutely remarkable day. I had two awesome plays with Prin and Cricket, and they're soooo worth sharing about.

I started out this morning playing with Prin. Last night I got a round of inspiration to start playing with some Finesse again, for whatever the reason. I've been avoiding the savvy as much as possible because I tend to turn into a scary person when I ride with contact. I've been focusing my attention to the details and pieces of successful finesse since November, and it suddenly dawned on me that all of my primary pieces were in place at suggestion level. I also came up with some new ideas for ways to develop lateral maneuvers without a rail to follow (I felt brilliant!), and wanted to play a little with it, at the walk, just to see what we could get.

Prior to today, when I'd pick my reins up at the beginning of our session, Prin would be fairly heavy. I'd have to do a fair amount of suspension rein and duck-landing transitions before she would be light enough in her front end to even handle "coiling the spring" so to speak, and collecting up.

Today, I just lifted my reins and her head came in, when I picked up contact, I felt her ENTIRE FRONT END come up to meet my hands. Not that I didn't believe it was possible, but I've NEVER felt anything like that come out of Prin before. It was exhilarating and we hadn't even moved yet!

We rode some figure 8's, focusing on keeping zone 5 closest to the barrel (focusing on keeping weight back and HQs flexible), and she felt REALLY solid. Did several more figure 8's with leg yields through the middle, and then played with the weave pattern, doing haunches and shoulders in through the cones. This all went really well, the neatest thing I found was that she was actually a little TOO flexible in her lateral stuff--it used to be that she couldn't do haunches and shoulders because she was so braced and locked up. Though she's still not 100% correct, I consider over-flexibility to be a HUGE step in the right direction for her. And the best part was, neither one of us ever lost our patience or our confidence. HUGE HUGE HUGE. It was awesome, and a huge success!

Next, I played with Cricket. I'm in the process of developing her into my lesson horse troop for 2010, and so I've been playing on developing her knowledge for patterns in online/freestyle up to Level 3. She's doing really beautifully online, especially, but recently she's been getting a bit presumptuous about the circling game, and has lost a lot of her play drive. I'm sure I've just drilled her a bit, is all, so today, I set out to make it right and bring her curiosity back out.

I used the touch-it game as my motivator. Cricket is innately a very dominant LB horse, set into some very resentful, almost RB-esque patterns from poor previous handling. I chose touch it because it allows for a horse's dominance to come out through the nose, something Left-Brain extroverts especially have a tendency for.

At first, she wanted none of it. Though she would touch the cones, she would do it with a "Why would I WANT to do that?" expression on her face. But as the game progressed (cones, barrels, round corral panels, tree limbs, etc), her curiosity started to take over, until she was getting a bit playful. Below are a couple of photos I snapped as we played toward the end of our session. The photo with the barrel was taken right before we quit. She had knocked it over, and had pushed it about 10 feet, before settling in to bite it. The one with the cone was taken just before she knocked it over, and then picked it up. Isn't she just the cutest?


"I'll knock it over, then bite it!"

As you can see, we had fun :)

Alright, off to bed. Savvy on, folks!

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