Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Following Advice

I love horse trainers. I really do. I am going to try really hard here to not get on a soap box about the difference between horse trainers and clinicians. I have worked with many horse trainers. Probably 8-10 of them over the last 16 years. A few of them taught me basics, a few trained for showing, a few trained for jumping or polo. Most of them were good and I learned to filter the good advice from the bad, or at least I learned to try it before I adopted it. When it comes to learning form trainers without working with them, I am skeptical. That being said, I will read a good book by a well known trainer. I understand that most of what is discussed is something that should be performed under a trainer in regular lessons. Though, there is some really important theory that can be extrapolated and applied. The book I am working with now is Dressage In Harmony by Walter Zettl. This Book is one I would highly recommend for a person of any discipline. He encourages softness on the part of the rider, lightness in contact and in cues. His discussion of collection is very correct and easy to understand. He really reinforces that the horse must be ridden from back to front in order to allow collection to happen. Collection must not be forced. Something that I tried from the book that worked was cuing the leg. Of course, he describes this better, but I will try. If you are asking for a left lead canter depart, you want to use your leg to cue as the horses back right leg is on the ground. This tells the horse that he needs to 'push off now with this leg'! If you are cuing for the leg yield to the left, you want to press with your leg when the back right leg is up. This tells the horse to 'move that leg over'. I thought this sounded a bit complicated, if not intriguing. So, I tried it with the leg yield at the walk in both directions. Instead of pressing and holding with my leg, I pulsed it against his side as his back leg lifted. It worked. He stepped under himself and was much straighter in his yield! Having moments like that are really great, and of course are much more efficent if used when under the instruction of a trainer. I, unfortuanatly, don't have access to a trainer right now in the middle of 'rodeo country' and am working with what I've got. I look forward to being able to trailer out to a lesson every few months!

I worked with Pete yesterday as well and he is coming along nicely. We worked on standing still as I mount, walking, neck reining, backing, trotting shapes, and canter departs.

When I worked with Boomer we just walked since he had had a few days off and I want him to stay fresh and enjoy our rides. We went around the property and I let him explore some. We did work on leg yields. We also walked around a really scary brush pile. He wouldn't go around it and we were standing still, letting him relax before trying again and all of a sudden... a rabbit dashed in front of us and into the brush pile! Boomer did a few double takes, but didn't try to leave. Eventually, we did walk around the pile in both directions. I mounted him from the truck bed, which he was a bit leery about and I dismounted him slowly by sliding down his side. He is doing really well with both. I eventually want him to be used to me dismounting so I don't have to do it in slow motion. I also want him to be used to standing next to anything for me to use it as a mounting block. I know that in an emergency, I could mount him from the ground without him moving off but I think that I need to respect his comfort and it is glaringly obvious that he is more comfortable when I mount him from a raised surface.

The weather this week is supposed to be awesome, we are taking 70's and 80's!!! So, I'm sure we will be working on a lot more riding! I hope spring is here, I have got a bad case of spring fever!

ETA for the trailer- 23-25 days!

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