Wednesday, April 27, 2011

4/26 Harley Smiles

I noticed Monday that Harley had a bug that needed fixing before he got any more in the habit. Lazy! Super Lazy! He was for the most part thumbing his nose & ears at my leg, ignoring a gentle squeeze for trot. Not a chance I'm going to let that go. With the warmups complete, and a little light walking on a loose rein complete, it was time to get to business.

I asked for trot lightly, and when he didn't move on, I squeezed Hard and Clucked. I made sure my whole body said, "GO silly!" He took off, near to a canter, head up. I kept the reins loose, and let him go forward, just a little. Back to the walk, which he also ignored the brakes. Ugh. Second time I asked for trot, he was lighter, but the brakes were still lacking. Third time? Go button was back in service... After about the fifth request, his brakes were better, too. Light as a feather on the whoa, but my "go" was interesting.

I studied my body, to see what cue I had taught him, intentional or not. It's in my butt and my tummy, combined with leg. If I tense up tummy, tense up butt just a smidge, and squeeze with my calves, he hops delightfully into the trot. Dunno if it's correct, but since he's mine for a long time, it doesn't much matter what cue works for anyone else. I thought about it a while later, and realized I've given Romeo nearly the same cue - I urge the trot with my lower body (tummy, torso, toosh), and he'll pop up into a jog. Now, Harley's doing it nearly the same way. Hmm.. Guess I'm doing it without realizing.

With the transitions improved, I shortened my reins, and asked him to give to the bit again. Nearly immediately all of the troubles with "give" and turning I had on Monday were gone, and he was behaving like a complete gentleman. I mixed it up by changing direction a bunch, serpentines, little circles, big circles, turn into and away from the fence... Plenty of walk to halt to standing a while as well. Flex left Flex right Up both reins, give give give...

Finished up our work with walk to a gentle halt on the verbal heavy sigh (air brakes! cool dude!), and backing up. His back up was easily initiated with calves and both reins, and then I was able to barely hold the rein pressure and he kept backing. About five voluntary steps in there after the initial ask. Very Cool!

No comments: