Another wonderful ride!!
I am hoping to get some video on Sunday – I am sooooo curious to see how it LOOKS. She feels wonderful, but without proper guidance for so long I am worried I have got into all sorts of problems and false feelings.
I am learning that Antsje has to be kept sensitised otherwise she can get a little ‘dull’ to the aids. By that I don’t mean she is lazy as such because she will always move off the leg – but it’s the reaction time that tends to get slower if you are not mindful of it. So rather than her take 3-4 steps before she trots after a leg aid, Iwant it to be NOW! Snappy! Immediate!
If she doesn’t go off the leg straight away, I bring her back to walk, get her listening and energised my whacking my boot with the whip and making SWISHY noises lol!! Then, when I feel she is stepping through better I then ask for the transition again. I also combine click & Treat with this and get some very good results – she is very enthusiastic hahahaha!!! Working on transitions really helps to get her listening and energetic. I also added in a few reinback to walk and reinback to trot transitions in too - this really helped with getting her to step under under more and increase the energy in the trot.
Once we have this ‘energy’ then I started to work on circles asking her to bend around the inside leg and not hanging on the inside rein (BOTH of us!!) I / We find this harder on the right rein, where I have to really be mindfull about that inside rein!! And also keeping the connection with the outside as I tend to let that go when I give the inside rein lol lol! So I think, elbow to hip – inside leg pressing her into the outside rein, outside rein to regulate and if necessary against the neck to turn. If all else fails, both reins into outside hand, ride a smaller circle and activate the inside hind with the whip held in the inside hand.
When we get it, it feels Gooooooood! And we are getting it quicker and more consistently lately. To really help this inside to outside connection I start to add in some leg yielding. First spiralling down to a small circle, then spiralling back out again. Then coming down the ¾ line and leg yielding back to the track. I always do a few strides straight first though as Antsje is the Queen of anticipation and we end up snaking back to the track before we have even finished the turn properly!!
We really do seem to have got the ‘relaxation’ needed for Antsje to seek the contact but now we have that, I am aware we need to add some ‘energy’ back into it as it is a little lapsidaisical at times – it looks great, but I know she isn’t using herself as much as she could. It is a fine line between animating her to get the energy and loosing the relaxation all together and we get the sucking back with the neck and tight back. So a good way I found last night of achieving this was getting a nice swinging trot and then by using my seat and clucking my tongue really collect the trot up as much as I could before breaking into walk, then by relaxing my position and giving the reins slightly get her to lengthen the trot back out again. The first few goes we collapsed into walk a couple of times but once she had got the idea we got some NICE trot, one improving the other as we kept a 20m circle.
I was pleased that after 2 sticky sessions with the leg yielding something has clicked in her head and she is getting the idea much better now. This is something Ive noticed with Antsje, you can have a really ‘UGLY’ session learning something new, but give her time to think she comes back the next time understanding it! What she lack in talent, she makes up for in attitude. She is SUCH a trier – and this is something that has helped my training with her this year. I came to the conclusion that Antsje ISNT awkward or lazy or dull – if she isn’t getting something then I am not explaining it correctly or in a way she can understand!! Clicker has helped immensely for conveying my ideas to her in a positive way. It has been a major breakthrough in ME containing my frustrations when something isnt going to plan. Now I try and look at it unemotionally and detached and ask as Erik Herbermann would say – How can I help my horse???I don’t ALWAYS succeed but by god im getting so much better and so is my training skills and I hope so is my riding and my horse!
ps - We have also been doing a lot of poll release work off the horse. Massage, flexions, giravolta work - all have helped to free up this area which Antsje has always been naturally protective of. I have also put the noseband OVER the headstall in the fashion of a 'comfort bridle' as she kept seeming to be sore in this area when I have been doing the massage. Since one particularly effective massage session and the bridle change she seems even better through the poll. Not sure which one or if both has helped but the change ridden has been notable :-)
pps - I wrote this up in Word to spell check and the suggested spelling for 'Herbermann' was HORSEMAN!! Isnt that delightful!!! lol!