Recently Dove & I traveled to David Lichman's for a private lesson. My good friend Jamie asked for an update on what we learned. So I thought I would share it with y'all too. :)
We arrived a bit early so Dove & I played at Liberty in his arena. She promptly saw this hairy sheep in the neighbor’s yard across the fence and was immediately drawn to it. How interesting… she is in a confident and dominant mood. Cool. So we played with our close spins and stick to me in his round pen which is at one end of the arena… I left the gate open…. circling was going nicely and then Dove left me ….through the gate. ha ha She crossed the arena to check in with the other horses so I applied a bit of pressure (make it uncomfortable to leave me) and she came cantering back to me when I asked for her. Uber cool! This was her first canter to me at Liberty! Ah the magic of the Lichman atmosphere! Oh and our lesson had not yet begun.
David arrived and we both got super engrossed in knot tying! Dove, still at Liberty, stood with us and took a nap while we fiddled with some cool braiding and knots.
Then I gave him my sob story about my dismal porcupine game and how I would sure love his input. So we began online and Dove was so-so at this one and ok at that one but nothing to write home or blog about! David observed that I needed to give Dove something more to do and if she wanted to move away, I should gently but firmly get her back in position and go somewhere with our porcupine. Then he noticed that she was bracing – head up and tight. So we played with that for a while, I had just my index finger pressed horizontally on the halter knot to ask her to back up, and then tapped her front feet with my stick or foot to get more response. I had to also press down with my index finger if she raised her head. I needed to be a bit more insistent vs. so nice and soft. ;) Ah yes David figured me out. ha ha
Before we moved to riding we addressed one of Dove’s old ghosts…. ropes and her hind legs. This is not a new subject but the good news is that we have progressed to a point where I have enough savvy to help her even more now. It has been a very long and at times dangerous road. She can get quite explosive if she gets worried enough. This is where David commented that my softness and niceness can help balance her out after moments when I must apply pressure. The brief history is that Dove has barbed wire and/or rope scars on her hind legs – from her fetlocks to her hocks. She has this on both hind legs although they are different lengths and could therefore be from more than one incident. I do not know if this occurred as a result of an accident while she was ridden or if this happened in pasture, or if it was inflicted by a previous predator. Either way they are what they are and have left her very skeptical of anything tight around her hind legs. David is well aware of the issue and has helped me progress with her tolerance, acceptance and now even relaxation when we play with ropes back there. So for this lesson he wound the 45’ rope around her in such a way that it would come free if need be. The hondo end dangled just above the ground and the rope then wound around her chest crossed over her back over the hondo end and then behind her legs on her gaskin area. We started on her more confident left side… aka the easier side. Phew. David helped in the beginning and then handed her over to me and in the end we were getting some nice low headed trotting in a circle, some straight lines, and even some backing … she backs up and into the rope pressure. I will continue this for the next 30 days and will hold off switching to her harder side until she gets really, really confident with this. BTW we are on our 4th session with this and I have already gotten some nice soft canter strides and even jumped over a small jump. Wahoo! My little pony tries her heart out for me.
Here's a little video clip from our 4th session at home:
Next we played with leading by the hind leg which was progressing to a new point using the 22’. David helped get me into a safer position to ask her for a step sideways with her hind leg. I needed to add in some driving her Zone 1 away so she would then also step her free leg over. Oh boy lots of homework!!
Next we saddled up and played with our freestyle porcupine game. Not surprisingly we had similar results – Dove bracing with her head up when backing. So while I was in the saddle, David helped me from the ground by tapping her front legs with the carrot stick and adding in some downward pressure on her halter to lower her head. Then he handed me the carrot stick and showed me how to tap her HQ, once she started backing to ask her to put more effort into it. Whoa that was alot for me to think about all at once. ha ha I have to admit that at first I had brain overload and tended to raise my rein too soon, but with some repetition I regained my savvy composure and felt some nice tries on Dove’s part. So we ended our lesson on this soft note.
Before we packed up to leave I put my helmet cam on David while he tied the fiador knot. He said he will post it on his website. I need to practice that knot a whole lot before I will remember it! LOL We then schlepped our tack back to my trailer, Dove almost self-loaded and we made the trip home in record time.
Another great tune-up from a Master Instructor. Thank you David!