Today we worked on impulsion and collection at the walk and sitting trot. I had introduced the idea of collection a few weeks ago by asking the horse to stop, then keeping my squeeze hold on the reins until he lowered his head and softened his neck. So, we reviewed that today. Once he had that down and was responding as fast as I was asking, we worked at the walk. He caught on quickly. His first response was to bob his head right back up. We will work on that with time. After a little while I started really asking for a more energetic walk. I wanted some real impulsion. He was good at staying 'up' in the energy level, but would lose some steam around corners or if he got distracted. Then I started asking for the impulsion plus the collection, which tended to make him break into a trot. Maybe I should ask for the collection consistently first and then add impulsion? I gave him a little break and we trotted around a little. I tried to collect him a bit and he readily understood what I was asking for! I was very impressed! So, I would like to work on more walk and trot work with added impulsion and more focus on collection. Boomer has a tendency to carry his neck high in pasture or while riding which has resulted in a ewe neck. Luckily, this is one of the few conformation faults which can be corrected! This is partially why it is important to me to help him collect. I want his to fully use and develop those upper muscles in his neck. I think it will also help him engage and lift his back.
I also worked with Pete again today. I bridled him with a loose ring, double jointed snaffle with four copper rollers on the middle part of the mouth piece. It looks like this but with 3 more rollers. It is very gentle because of the extra break in the mouth so it won't have a nutcracker effect on the roof of his mouth when pressure is applied. The rollers are copper, which is sweet and will encourage him to mouth the bit and more readily accept it. In the past Pete has been ridden in a cheap curb bit from Atwood's and a full spade. First time, he bolted. Second time, he bucked. Here is a very extreme spade bit. Essentially, it is a curb bit (has shanks for leverage) with a 'spoon' in the mouth piece. The idea is that on a fully trained bridle (Western Pleasure) horse the horse carried his head vertically. The spade rests upright as in the picture. The 'spoon' is pointed up towards the horses throat and is not uncomfortable until the horse tips his nose out- then the 'spoon' with contact the roof of the mouth causing the horse to re set his head vertically to evade the pressure. Now imagine putting a full spade on a young, green horse who carries his nose out in front all of the time! Ouch! I don't blame him for bucking the guy off! So, my goal is to reintroduce the bit as something that is not painful or traumatizing. We will work on turns stopping, etc. I hope to be able to ride him in the next 7-10 days because that is where I will really be able to start doing some good work with him.
Here is what I put in his log:
1/20/09 1 hour
I worked Pete in the round pen again and it seems as if he is really coming into himself. He is really beginning to understand voice commands. 'Woah' still needs reinforcement via me stepping towards his head, but he is getting better.
I bridled him for the second half of the lesson. I used a very gentle snaffle. It is a loose ring, double jointed snaffle. This means it has three separate sections in his mouth rather than two which creates a 'nutcracker' effect on the roof of the mouth. He has been ridden in curbs and spades before which are too advanced for a young horse. The snaffle will help him be more responsive. A curb bit is good for gaining leverage for headsets later in training.
He did well with the bit, we did turns, stops, and backing.