Minutes of Training: 90
Goal: lesson with Dr. Susan Schneider
Methods- be specific, give details: 1. warm up
a. walk: poll supples on 2nd track, then use small supple circle to engage inside hind
b. trot- develop swinging trot with poll as highest point and chest open so shoulders can step through; when horse goes above the bit- hold rein with set hand on wither just in front of the saddle while sending horse forward with inside leg/never pull back with rein; release immediately when horse gives. (This is like a long half halt, 3-5 seconds until horse regains balance and releases.) Post with swinging hips and loose legs- don’t drive horse with strong post and tight legs. When horse gets too quick, also use set hand with inside leg. Horse will rebalance and find a better rhythm; can also achieve by holding core and posting more slowly.
2. Teach horse to engage core by stepping through. Begin exercise in walk, then go to trot, then canter.
a. in the walk, working on a 20 m circle, supple as leg yield with inside leg/soft spur asking horse to step under and sideways. Keep the contact. Next, teach horse to step through with hind end to the bit. Shorten reins and lengthen arms. Whip will encourage horse to push from behind/engage motor. Whip: inside hand with pinky closed, thumb on top, rein lengthened and open for whip to touch croup. Whispering taps with whip in rhythm with walk. When horse stops, he is stuck; he needs to sort out how to step through to the bit. This is a new feel, and he is not sure how to move into the contact. Don’t drive horse when he is stuck; instead just keep riding quietly in rhythm, and he will figure out how to step “through”; stay on the 20 M circle.
b. trot- begin as in walk, (leg yield on circle to supple and activate inside hind.) Next a whip whispering to his croup in trot rhythm. Post and touch horse when rider sits. When circle is good, go large.
c. canter- when trot, supple and move into canter from 20 M circle. Continue to supple keeping neck soft, poll highest point, rhythm relaxed. Then engage inside hind in rhythm of canter- stride 1- very softly on croup. When circle is good, go large. Keep the rhythm regular and relaxed.
Reflection: This lesson mirrors part 2 of section 1 of Uta Graf, “Effortless Riding.” Very timely to have this lesson today; very helpful to practice my timing and softness of aids today.
After such a reactive beginning to the week, this lesson was a reminder of what a treasure my horse is. He works hard and wants to please. He enjoys the training as much as I do. I believe the emphasis on rhythm in this lesson, (along with suppling), helped to steady and reconnect Monarch to my leadership, after his electric and wild affect earlier this week. (I wore my full seat leather breeches today because I was not sure how much bucking I would have to ride. It turned out that he was solidly on my seat the whole lesson and did not offer even one buck!)
Next Steps: Take Monarch away from the sheep next door, so we can focus on these concepts can confirm the feeling of stepping through to the bit, (horse), and timing and lightness of aids, (rider).
4/18/17: Practice flexions for lesson on Thursday; light aids
comments about today’s training: another wild day. Monarch regressed back to 2 years old. Sheep came in to the ranch behind us, strong spring winds, birds building nest in barn, blackbirds in the chico brush. Monarch was very worked up when I went to tack him up, so I turned him loose in the A end of my arena, with a rope from V to P to contain him. Then I let him blow off steam because he was not going to be caught. It took an hour of sending him out before he let me approach him; I used the join up method, looking for licking as a sign that he would let me approach. I finally began to “free longe” him, asking him for transitions- walk-trot-canter- halt. All this was fine, as long as I didn’t try to approach him. After an hour, he finally let me touch him with a cookie. After talking to him, petting him, and many cookies, I attempted to snap on his lead. By then he was 80% calm. We spent the next 30 minutes practicing leading, as we did 15 years ago when he was a colt.
4/17/17: Practice the 4 types of aids in Beth Baumert’s Book: When Two Spines Align
3. 1/2 halt/balance
comments about today’s training: I had every intention of practicing some book study concepts, (Beth Baumert’s book is very aligned with our Uta Graf book study, and I will be riding with Beth in June), but that was not meant to be. Spring weather in Colorado most likely does affect a horse’s behavior. I could tell Monarch was going to be spooky with the overcast light and strong winds. Usually I ride through his behavior on days like today, and I focus on suppling and connecting him. Today (after reading some book study ideas), I wanted to test him. I thought I could supple him in-hand if he felt spooky or stiff, but he was totally resistant, so I got out a longe line and did ground work exclusively in the spooky part of the arena. It took the better part of an hour to get him reliably connected. During the first part of schooling- about the first 20 minutes- he charged approaching the scary spot almost every time. Then he had moments of focus when he moved calmly, which instantly fell apart and he would shy, rear, buck, or charge again. I was so thankful I did not get on today. He is so talented, powerful and fit, it could have been dangerous. I’ve never seen him have such histrionics before. I’m certain it has something to do with the atmosphere and the season. I hope to ride him tomorrow. With all the connecting work we did, he should be an angel. We ended the session with canter voltes and frequent transitions- walk/canter. He became quite light- I could lightly touch him on the croup with the longe whip and he would collect, then canter. By the end, I felt safe enough to trust him working at W-C transitions about 5 meters away from him. (In the beginning of our session I had to keep my distance because his spooks were huge, as well as being aware of which direction he was charging, because he sometimes headed into the circle towards me. He wasn’t charging me so much as getting away from a perceived danger. It did take vigilance, and I was happy when he let me safely work close to him at the end of the session. At that point I felt very connected, even though I was not on his back.)