Tuesday, April 19, 2011

4/16 & 4/17 Lather, Rinse, Pete

Pete, Repeat. Pete, Repeat. That's how it felt, at least.

4/16, Harley and I warmed up like normal, with slightly shorter neck stretcher. Within a few minutes, he had his tongue flapping around his mouth, earnestly trying to gather up the slobber he wasn't used to. I laughed, but felt some satisfaction in that he's building the muscle to hold a forward, collected movement in the neck stretcher. While not replicating what my hands will do with the reins, it's building muscle. Progress...

I hopped on, and found his bending and flexing left to be terrific. Bending right? Nasty, just nasty. I ended up bumping on the bit some, as he'd get so close, but hang on the bit those last few inches. Bump Bump, and he would give a little.

Vertical flexion was, well, terrific. The longer I bent him right and left, the more I noticed he was giving vertically in the middle, just about voluntarily. Neat! I felt a few good stretches across his back during some vertical "both reins" flexion. Relaxing, because he was yawning a time or two as well, I'm sure enjoying that newfound feeling of "stretch" while I'm aboard.

Then I picked up the trot for just a few circles, each direction. Delightful, well, once I got used to it. It's huge, it really is. I suppose I ought to snag a video or two of his trot, just so I can see how much ground he covers. Posting the trot, there's "hang time", in what feels like, for a split second, all four hooves are off the ground. It feels like he's flying, really zipping around the circle. My reins were loose and swinging to and fro, causing me to start laughing at the swinging reins, which almost certainly mean a swinging rear. =)

4/17, Obviously disgusted with this new "working all the time", Harley attempted a good bucking circle warming up. As he transitioned from trot to canter, he bucked almost an entire circle, voluntarily moving forward in the circle the whole time. I kissed to him, tugged on the longe line, but he persisted. I started laughing at him, he let out a huge snotty sigh, and went back to the canter correctly. Obviously he realized it wasn't upsetting me enough to change the plan, and it's much easier to work correctly. Harley galloped another circle or two, got very tired very quickly, and resumed his work. The neck stretcher got good results again, white frothy happy spit dripping from his mouth. Loving it!

On the 17 ride, he was flexing nicely to the right, but horridly to the left. Same as the right had been the day before, all but the last few inches, then hang and rest. Grr... Vertically, he was about light as a feather, but tried tossing his face around for a few of them. I responded by holding my reins short and light, giving as soon as he rested and held the flexion. Good Boy, Harley. You can try to be a booger, but it won't last, because I can change the game.

The trot again lasted a while longer, a few more circles, and a nice change of direction. In the change of direction at trot, he lost all of his forward, but he stayed in the trot, nevermind it resembled a jog. Hey, it's a start. On the circle, I noticed he was paying close attention to my leg cues for turns. I hadn't intentionally teaching this, but apparently I was accidentally teaching him something useful. Excellent! I must have been doing it right as well, releasing when I got the answer I wanted. It felt good to get those turns. At the same time, I recognized that I can add inside leg (calf pressure) just lightly, and he would increase his trot stride. Really?! Did I accidentally do that, too, or did he come to me with that knowledge. I haven't thought to ask yet, but it's a neat idea - I have taught him to turn and yield on leg pressure, and increase stride with inside leg, all by habit rather than intention.

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