Monday, April 25, 2011

4/22/11 Review & New Homework

Jen came over to watch and offer tips on "what's next". As I almost expected, Harley, feeling either my tension or energy, bucked like a grasshopper heading canter-left. Baby, baby. You're just going to wear yourself out, and I'm not changing my plans for the day based on a little silly bucking.

Longed free, added neck stretcher. Lots of spit, and a happy mouth. Harley hopped cheerfully over his three-in-a-row ground poles. Jen adjusted them to a slightly larger stride, and he sailed over them still. Pretty!

I hopped on, and quickly got to business. I flexed him left, right, both, all with happy success. He looked happy to be doing his job, almost bored. Time to liven things up. I pushed him up to a walk, and remarked it felt like he's poking. Jen let me know that he's over-tracking a LOT at the walk, just moves slow at it. I don't know if this is an "improvable" feature, or something I should just get used to. I do remember at least once or twice he has marched on with a strong walk, it's just not very often.

Then we picked it up to the trot. Lots of loose rein for Harley to start, me posting about on his back, changing direction, changing intentions, all around the place. Realizing I hadn't ridden trot over the full arena, I took him all around both directions. Jen called out, "Where ya going?" I explained, to which she responded, "Well that was a non-event, cool!"

Moving onto something new, I started lightly gathering my reins, shortening them, and barely making contact with his mouth. Harley immediately expressed his displeasure, tossing his head, flipping his mouth around, twisting at the poll, you name it. Bring on the diversion techniques! None of them swayed me. Jen did comment that my old Ransom habit of "tug tug" isn't going to work as well with Harley, and the best way to get "give" for now, is to hold the reins tight and steady, giving with a full release anytime he gives.

I had to settle for "sort of". He lowered his head just a little bit, and I gave completely, and relaxed a bit at the walk. We repeated this a few more times, and after about three "half effort gives", I quit the trot work.

Finally, for homework this week, the back up. Harley previously knew a little bit pressure meant "back up now". I've since changed that lesson, where a little bit pressure means "give at the poll slightly, lower your head". Now, Harley's back up means a little bit, a little leg, squeeeeeze. I'm settling for one step to start, and then add more one at a time until he's got 4-5 happy steps backwards. For now, I need to remember backing at all is good. Later, when he's completely proficient with leg cues for turning and bending, THEN I can start adding leg to correct crooked backups.

Well over an hour, and a good time had by all.

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