Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My little Rockstar Dove

Goofing around yesterday, experimenting really, with long lines, transitions and fluidity concepts. We've been isolating a few of the components and I wanted to see where we were at when we put them to a test. Since Dove was on high alert about noises in the creek below we started with weaving and figure eights. It took me about 20 minutes to realize that I was too loud for her. I really only needed to suggest that she move her nose over while weaving. Geez she was saying why are you yelling at me? Oops sorry girl, how about I back off. And yep there it is a nice weave. Fig 8's are still a challenge with her. It is more that changing which eye is on me that is hard for her. She loses confidence so we broke it down in halves and it was better. A couple jumps over a single barrel along the fence and we then played with trot/canter transitions on a circle. She was still too worried to walk so trot and canter it is. ;) She was cantering so much quieter, more even cadence, no cross firing and even had her head low. Wowie! And she looked relaxed, like it felt as good as it looked. Now that is the canter we can play with while riding one day. We've been taking a break from cantering this past year because she was so braced - stiff neck, head up, emotional, cross firing. Just all over uncomfortable. Instead we played with soft trot departures. That was hard enough. Something I heard Linda Parelli say to a student on a recent RFD episode -her horse wasn't ready to canter while riding yet because the horse could not canter sanely online. Bingo- I realized that is what Dove needed - to be able to canter sanely online.

Since we were still experimenting I tried walk, trot and canter transitions with long lines. Why not give it a try! Dove is still not 100% confident about the long lines while circling. She's quite ho hum about it when we are walking straight. She makes a darling cart pony when her tail swishs so pretty as she trots. :-) But when the lines draw around her hind legs she gets bracey. So we are still playing with that. She offered some nice low headed soft trotting in between canter transitions and she picked up her leads beautifully with no cross firing. So I know it is not bothering her too much. We'll keep playing with trot/canter and long lines and see how long she needs before she can offer a low headed canter. And just for fun I asked her to jump the barrel along the fence. She was avoiding it on her right so we tried approaching it on her left. She went over, a bit rushed and bracey but didn't bolt off and didn't get upset about the ropes tickling her hind legs. Nice. A few more circles rewarding her low headed trot and we took a break.

Our friend joined us in the arena while Dove & I practised some fluidity techniques while riding bareback. I dropped my inside and then outside arm to check if it was loose and relaxed or was it bouncing or bumping up. Interesting my left was loose, my right bounced. Hmmm... Was I sitting relaxed and elegant? Can I drop my rein and then pick it up with my elbows at my side? After reviewing the video last night I know what I'll be playing with this month! My friend's horse was rather rambunctious so Dove & I didn't try more than a trot. We played with sideways over a barrel. She was brilliant! Barely a hesitation. This is a first and we were bareback to boot. Cool. She wanted to push the barrel around so we did that for a bit, side passed over it again and then hung out, her head really low and watched our friend play. Dove felt so solid and calm. What a difference from the beginning of our session. She was still nervous now and then as noises came from the creek and neighboring house. But she quickly relaxed.

Dove is really my Rockstar! Thanks for a lovely session girl.

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