Photo by Margaret Chant and edited by Jessica Metropulos

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ohio Recap Pt 2: While We Wait for the Arena...

This month is proving to be a busy month for facility maintenance and upgrade at the barn. We're in the process of re-fencing a permanent dry lot for equines, as well as taking out a couple of old lines, and while we're doing that, we're (FINALLY) putting in a fenced outdoor ring.  There's a flat spot at the bottom of my playground that I've always used as my "Arena", but it proves difficult for things like Follow-the-Rail, and corner-to-corner, which actually require rails and corners! So I'm thrilled that we're actually adding those elements! More to come on the Heart and Desire Horsemanship Blog as construction begins and progresses!

 Anyway, most of the things that Linda had initially suggested for exercises while riding Crest are exercises (partial disengagement!) that are better set up for success, especially with a more impulsive horse, if they're done on a rail.  What needs to be done is this:  First, starting out, we need to establish some walk/trot/walk transitions.  In the downward transitions, I'll use partial disengagement  to "push" Crest down into the walk from trot, starting in his ribs and inside hind leg. I'll hold that until he can easily flow and relax in the walk, and he stretches his neck down. (See photo--though it looks like he's about to bash his head on the panel, I promise he was just stretching!)

Once those are smooth,  I need to ask Crest up into a canter, using proper fluidity and core strength, cantering in my body (as opposed to the  semi-fetal, fear-based squeeze and scream that I used to do, that usually results in Crest trotting like a dressage horse on steroids, and me about falling off). Once in canter, I'll allow a couple of strides at most,  and use the same partial disengagment concept to bring him down to walk again. Rinse and repeat.

However, as I mentioned before, all this requires a rail of sorts. So whilst we wait for our arena, Crest and I have been preparing to ride by playing with partial disengagement online. I must confess, I felt like a total fool the other night when I had this realization. Parelli is so much about preparing online for what you want to do in the saddle, and yet I had not connected the dots from the ground exercise of partial disengagement to the saddle. I had taught both of my horses partial disengagement online months ago, as a means to encourage longitudinal flexion online. But I had not used it as a means to encourage relaxed transitions!  So, that's what we're playing with now.  Crest learned very quickly what I was searching for,  and currently (as of 7/7/10, last I played with him), he's doing beautiful trot/walk transitions, beautiful (SMOOTH) canter/trot transitions, and is starting to find some rhythm in his canter/walk transitions, all on about 18 feet of the 22' line. 

So that's where we're at for now.  The journey SINCE the lesson has been so fulfilling in and of itself, I just am loving this process :)

So savvy on, and keep your eyes peeled for another addition to the "Ohio Recap" series, as I come to understand and dissect Crest's tendencies as a learner!

1 comment:

Parelli Central said...

Great recap, Fran! I can't wait to hear more since I had to stay home and missed the Ohio event.

Petra Christensen
1Star Parelli Junior Instructor