Monday, August 22, 2011

Satisfactory Times Three

Today was a good day all around.  All three horses had very successful work sessions and some progress was made.  Drift was up first.  He was pretty relaxed today, which was nice.  We worked a lot on shortening and lengthening the walk and trot, and on our transitions, all while maintaining softness.  He was pretty "with" me and when he did get distracted he came right back to me.  Then, since the trot work was going so well, we then did some work on his canter, mainly on the departures and then transitioning down to trot while maintaining forward.  I was very pleased that he got the right lead with no difficulty three times in a row as he's struggled with that.  He tends to want to come to a halt when transitioning downwards from the canter, so we worked on smoothly transitioning down to the trot instead, and after a nice transition in each direction, we were done.

Pie had an intensive session on being "with" me.  We used a pattern of four cones set in a very large square, with a raked straight path between the cones.  Our objectives were straightness, softness, and immediate transitions (particularly upwards from walk or halt to trot - he has tended to be sticky).  Riding straight takes a lot of attention from me - if I'm with him then he can be with me - I have to focus on where we are going, drawing us along the line, and then maintain his straightness by creating a corridor with my legs and reins, but without doing a lot of stuff with my hands.  We did a number of different exercises such as walking or trotting the straight line between cones, halting in front of the cone, backing, then circling around the cone and continuing with the next straight line.  We also worked on walking and trotting small circles around the cones without bulging out.  And in all of this I asked him to stay consistently soft.  We also worked on getting immediate upwards transitions from walk to trot and halt to trot - I carried my "encourager" (a small crop) and made it clear that now meant now.  Pie did very well and I felt he was much more with me be the end of our session than he was at the beginning - his softness is much more consistent and the quality of his trot is improving.  I rode him in the KK Ultra (a three part full-cheek snaffle with a lozenge in the center) - he was doing a lot of mouthing but rode very well in it - I don't know if this is the right bit but we'll keep using it at least for a while.

Dawn is still in heat, although almost done, so we had another lungeing session.  We started by doing some backing in hand - she was a bit braced so we worked through that until I could get immediate soft backing - that meant she was with me instead of tuned out.  Her lungeing was very good and relaxed - I used verbal commands and changes in my body language/energy.  We did walk/trot/walk and walk/halt/walk as well as trot/halt/trot by the end.  And there were no hissy fits!  We didn't canter on the lunge today because I wanted to keep everything very calm and quiet.

A very satisfactory day - good Drift, Pie and Dawn!

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