I am teaching my horse pace & rhythm.
And cows still eat ponies.
=) I warmed Ransom up briefly free lunge. He decided this was a good day for a gallop, and ran like a nut for probably five minutes. I knew he'd have the lesson anyways, so I left him go. He wasn't going to end the ride in the lazies, and I was going to force him to move out.
Jen arrived, and we got to business. I didn't spend a lot of time riding flat before trotting to the poles. First set of trot cavaletti, he hit one. Second, third, same deal. Kept knocking over one or two. Jen said, "He's being lazy, watch this." She set the landscape timbers I've been using as poles on their sides, making them a little bit taller. I approached at the trot, and Ransom hopped through the pattern without knocking anything over. "See? He's being lazy. Now, get him up to canter, ride the canter poles, and show me what the heck he's been pulling over there. I suspect more of the same lazies."
He did the exact same thing he's been doing, breaking to trot, and trying to canter in the middle of it, or heading out of it. Jen started kissing to him in front of the poles, and I focused on heels down, energy up. After three go's, he got it. Stayed in canter for all three poles, and stayed steady throughout. Similar action happened heading right as well, started out messy, ended clean. The homework here? Keep doing it, and forcing him to canter. He's way out of practice needing to think about low steady work, and I'm retraining him on rhythm & pace, to see his distances, and stay quiet through the pattern work.
Then we set up the low crossrail, and I got after those too. Jen got some neat pictures (psst,, share!) of us looking great, and looking terrible. On one of the approaches heading right, I thought I heard her say "release your knees." By the time I started processing the thought, and changing my body, it was too late. Ransom jumped big, and pitched me straight out of the tack. We laughed - That's how I'll know if I'm holding on at the knees.. legs come behind me, and his launch will shove me out of the saddle. Each direction we hopped a few ways, and it got progressively better.
Changed direction to left, hopped once, talked about what I needed to change, and circled around. Hopped again, landed, one stride, two stride,
Ransom jumped HARD to the left, 3-4 feet, and I quickly shoved my heels down, sat back, and grabbed one rein to turn him. What in the hell was THAT all about?
Cows.. That's what. About a dozen cows were trotting across the neighbor's pasture. They came out from behind the trees about two strides away from the fence. Spooked Ransom, and he was absolutely convinced they were going to eat him. When I got Ransom stopped, I hopped off, and spent some time talking with Jen about what happened. This isn't the first time he's spooked at the cows, and it's worse the faster they're moving. We're still formulating a "cow desensitizing plan" for him, and it's probably going to involve some time in a pipe fence pen with a few quiet ones. We can't keep repeating this "spook after the fence" nonsense.. For sure!
I "cowgirled up", got back on him, and he settled. Jumped a few more times, rode a little on the flat, and called it a lesson.
Long ride, and a lot learned. We're to keep up the canter poles, and if he gets lazy, move the cavaletti rail razors over to the canter poles. Switch up location of the canter poles and the trot cavaletti to keep him thinking and try to not repeat any one thing too many times in a row to prevent anticipation and laziness.