Paraphrasing Pat: "The principles are the 8 listed to the left (on my blog), the purpose gives meaning to what you are teaching the horse, and taking the time it takes is essential for success and a confident, trusting horse."
This past week my horse & I have been reflecting on Principle #8: Principles, Purpose & Time are the tools of teaching. Our lesson with David last Friday was a great example of Dove being in charge of the principles and the timeline. She is a smart, brave, athletic horse who is calmer when we take the time she needs. Our lesson revolved around finding relaxation at the canter, our little sticky spot in our Freestyle routine. We started with relaxation online at the trot and canter and then tried it while riding. Quickly it was evident that Dove was still bracing when transitioning into the canter. Hmmm.... so David had us play with increasing speed within the trot gait vs changing gait. Help her find relaxation when trotting faster. BINGO Dove responded... that is just what I needed, head lower, blowing out, ... thanks.
Now what is most interesting is that we have been taking months of time, frankly the better part of a year, to find relaxation online and while riding and have seen heaps of improvement and progress. However, Dove is telling me she needs even more time to canter relaxed. So, big sigh, we put our freestyle audition back on hold. Although I am patient, this was not easy because I would really like to officially pass our Level 3 Freestyle by the end of the year.... this would be my short term goals talking of course.... so I will just "get over it." Afterall my long term goals are so much more fun and exciting! Bareback and bridless cantering about the fields. I can wait.
And then yesterday Dove & I were playing at my friend Laurie's ranch and here we were in a strange new environment trotting about, using only the carrot stick and occassionally the string. My horse gave me a taste of what it is like when she is in charge of the timeline. Mind you when we first arrived Dove was a bit prancy and tight. But keeping to our principles- relaxation first using friendly games exploring the ranch online; patterns such as ride the rail and cloverleaf; walk, trot, halt transitions; stopping in the corners and finding the sweet spots- we found our harmony.
In the end Dove was so relaxed and confident that she required me to be much more provacative in order to keep her attention on me and off the grass. The LBI side of her had arrived! Fascinating!