Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Phew, the "tail" thing

Well now I feel better!  I linked a couple of old videos of G trotting and galloping in a field back in 2003 and he held his tail to the left in both.  So phew, nothing new! 

Now I'm wondering is it normal for horses to hold their tails one way or another?  Since he was trained to show, and I know his tail wasn't cut, can the tail sets effect the way a tail sets?  Or is it like any creature just normal?

I guess as long as it sways in a relaxed fashion he's good.

I've been enjoying Mark Rashid's novel "Out of the Wild" and sure wish I had an afternoon to just sit and read it straight through.  It was a little hard to start, but once it got rolling it's been wonderful.  Not knocking it mind you, but I know some people will stop reading a book if it doesn't capture them from the first page.  Give this one a whirl, you'll be glad you did!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wonderful Lesson! 1/24/10

We had a wonderful lesson on Saturday.  Debbie asked how things had progressed since our least lesson and I mentioned that I hadn't been able to get a quick response for our canter transitions.  So after working shoulder fore and leg yields, we got right to canter transitions.  In the saddle I felt like he was collected, but on review of the video, the right word would be "controlled" or maybe "contained".  But for G this is a huge step, and his responsiveness was right on.  

We still have lots of work to do on both the up and downward transitions, and I need a lot of coaching on using my body better to support him, but I feel like we're making good progress.  The first right canter lead at about 1:54 on the linked video, you can see G yield to the bit and soften on the up transition...it just felt awesome.  It's funny how what you used to think was relaxed and controlled really wasn't, and you don't know until you begin to feel it when its done right.

In watching the past two videos of us though I'm starting to wonder if G's hip may be a bit sore.  His trail goes center to left, but never to the right.  For all I know its always been like this, but I'm thinking it may be related to the trailer accident in the fall of '08.  Maybe its time to get the massage therapist out to look at him again.  He was never really "out" but she did find some stiffness in the hip when she worked on him  months after the accident.

Next lesson is in 2 weeks so we'll work on our transitions and see if we can improve upon them.  I think the timing of my aids is getting better, but I know I have a lot of room for improvement.

A little canter anyone?  Part of our lesson....

   Canter Transitions - YouTube Video

Friday, January 22, 2010

Quick Update

Nothing earth shattering to report, nothing really new going on. But I did have another wonderful ride last night on G and that always makes me smile.

I’m beginning to “feel” more and am working hard at using “intent” to cue G rather than direct aids; and he’s beginning to gait more with his neck in “neutral” rather than upright. I’m trying not to get overly excited and allow him to gait much, as I love the relaxed frame of mind and the smoothness of gait he’s delivering. So I will only circle the arena once in gait and then ask him to walk. We then go back to walking circles or serpentines; a little leg yielding on the next long side; shoulder fore on the next; and stopping square after each corner. Maybe 5 minutes later I’ll ask him to pick up gait again. But we spend more time in relaxation each time we work. This is a great thing!

G is also beginning to grasp the concept that just because I ask for a 20 meter canter on one end doesn’t mean I’m going to ask for it again on the next corner. He used to continually anticipate what he felt I was going to ask; but now he’s beginning to understand that he needs to wait for my cues. He would get so up and anxious over it.  As I continue to get better at my consistency in directing what, where, how fast, how slow; he is waiting for me before acting. I’m so hoping that when spring does get here and the trails are no longer covered in ice that all of this arena work is going to translate on the trail. It has in the past, so I’m hopeful.

Next lesson up this Saturday. I’m going to try and remember to bring the camera and set it up to tape; then following the lesson I’m going to meet Cora’s Walking Horse/SSH Georgia. Should be fun.

Stay tuned!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Whole Heart, Whole Horse

I finally found some time to sit down, put my feet up and finish Mark's book "Whole Heart, Whole Horse". I'm really glad I had the opportunity to work with Mark & Crissi prior to reading this book, as it put the work we did with G into perspective. This is hands down my favorite book of Mark's to date. He has put into words what so many of us strive for in our relationship with our horses. It is the path I've been traveling with G with some success, but I now know what I need to work on the most. Me! It would be lovely if I was just one of those "even keeled" personalities, but I'm not. Do I want to be? Yes indeed. Do I need to be? Yes. In order for me to win G's trust and heart 100% I have to become consistent 100% of the time. So now I go in search of the tools I need to find my inner balance and inner peace. Tai Chi is something I've been curious about, so that is the first thing on my list to begin.

Now on to "Out of the Wild" Mark's first novel. I've been anxious to start reading it, but had to finish WHWH first. I highly recommend WHWH - it's a keeper!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Years Day RIde

Unfortunately it wasn't nice enough to ride outside, as we had snow on top of ice so we had to settle for the indoor. Hubby was nice enough to come to the barn and groom the footing for us. It's been a real mess lately. We didn't work anything special - worked on relaxing under saddle, backing, walking turns on the forehand, cantering and a little leg yielding at the end. I realize I may be pushing him past "relaxation" at the walk, but it felt good. In retrospect and in reviewing the video, I should have kept him at a nice medium walk. But I do see some nice moments in there! But if I want consistency I need to be more patient. What I see though is a nice trail pony.

I'm getting happier with his backing, as its getting straighter and freer - hurray!! And his canter is getting more relaxed. Hopefully I can video tape our next lesson and we can repeat the awesome canter we performed for Deb a few weeks ago. The transition up was really "up" and I was able to keep him more collected by using half halts. It just felt great, and I really hope I can feel it the same way again.

I've been working really hard on "feel" as we work on our various exercises. Trying to keep the proper rhythm/tempo in my head and heart and use "intent" in my cues. It's getting better, at least I think he's responding to my intent. I believe we're finally at the point where we understand one another and the communication is finally on the same wavelength. It's been a heck of a journey, and I'm thankful to have learned so much.

Edited to add: I sent a link to the YouTube video to Liz Graves as she's been nice enough to keep tabs on us since we did her first clinic. She is in my opinion the finest horsewoman to walk the planet. She just "gets it" and has a wonderful way of sharing her knowledge with others all for the sake of the horse. I don't think she'd mind me posting her email response to me, and I do want to make sure I have this in my "history" to look back on when I'm an old woman some day.

Hi Kate,
The clip you sent is just awesome!!!!!!!!!
This is what I like to see, yes he’s relaxed and easy here, this shows how far you have both come.
If you can just keep this tone of sessions for a good while yet and not work or add much more right now but just maybe softening (making more subtle) your aids even more for the back, just time and patience . Being in his head right now to help him understand that this relaxed place can always be, is most important right now and you can add refinement , collection and advanced work later.
It’s my opinion as I’ve stated so many times is that we first :
1. Get into the heart through trust and relationship
2. They then open and give us their mind
3. And last they allow us to guide and direct their body.
This method is the one in which a horse will give us everything they can.
The more common train of human thought in teaching horses though is:
1. Control the body first 2. Then you own the mind.
Horses never get to be the best they can with this method.
Wonderful Kate, just wonderful!
YESSSSSS!!! We are on the right road and I will continue to work in this soft frame as recommended until he really does become "soft". He's getting there, I feel it!!