Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pie Moves His Hindquarters Over

Today there was a snowstorm - although it only amounted to 5 or 6 inches of snow, the roads were pretty bad.  Before it got started, Dawn and I had a very nice morning ride - lots of trot work with very good engagement and softening, and some very nice bounding canter.

In the afternoon, I was at the barn by myself, with a beautifully dragged arena and lots of cones put out for my work.  No one else braved the weather, which meant the boys and I had the whole arena to ourselves.

Red and I had an excellent ride.  We survived one incident of ice/snow crashing off the roof - he leapt forwards and then went right back to work - after that for a bit he was nervous, not where the ice and snow fell off the roof, but where he was in the arena when it happened.  He worked through that well, and his trot work got better and better - by the end of our ride he was striding out evenly on both diagonals, with lovely softness.  We used the cones to do lots of serpentines and big circles.  We did some canter work, but his canter felt fairly discombobulated, and since we were alone at the barn I didn't want him to trip, so we kept the canter work short, just cantering down the long sides and then trotting around the corners.

Pie and I started working on his being able to move his hindquarters over and step under himself, to help with the issues I described in my last post.  Since we were alone at the barn, I kept him in the Western saddle - I'll use the dressage saddle when other people are around, but the Western saddle has a 5" cantle and is a better bet in the event he makes a sudden move.  We started our work in hand, doing some turn on the forehand work to help him get the idea of an aid that signals "move those hindquarters over", not just "move the whole body sideways".  The aid at this point had to be about where the back cinch lies - pretty far back, but I think the position will be able to come a bit forwards once he gets the idea. It took a number of tries, and getting fairly big with the aid - I would just keeping upping the ante, including getting to digging in my thumb - until he got the idea - as soon as he got it I was able to back the aid way off until it was soft. Then we did small circles in hand, with my asking him to move his hindquarters over while he was circling around a cone - this meant he was doing a larger circle with his hindquarters outside the smaller circle with his front legs.  After every successful few steps, we'd move forward again.  This being Pie, pretty soon he was looking to circle around every cone he saw . . .

Then we did some ridden work at the walk, repeating the same exercises.  I would actually take my inside leg out of the stirrup to move it way back to repeat the cue - luckily he doesn't seem to mind being touched that far back.  Once he's clear on what's up, I think bringing the aid forward will be easy.  Then, just for variety, we did some loose rein forward trot work.  We finished with some shoulder-in - he got the idea easily, and then when I dismounted, we did some of that in hand as well.  In every case, after a few steps of the movement I wanted, we moved forwards right away as a reward and to reinforce forward as the primary thing we need to have.

I was delighted with his work and told him so - Dawn and Red had their own praise fests.

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