The Lesson! Harley was startled and nervous. NOT like him, but the supplement has definitely been working. He was caught off guard by MrsN with the wheelbarrow. Then some longhorn cattle got his fur up. Finally, he was uncomfortable with Jen outside the arena filming. What a nutcase! I went into the lesson with NOTHING planned, and that was a good thing.
We worked nearly the entire ride on getting a bend and calmness out of him. Here's the high-points:
- Leg yields on the circle for transitions. Leg yield him out, THEN ask for trot.
- Watch his ears. If he "leaves me" (ears and body obviously thinking outside the arena), leg yield and bend him one way or another.
- To get a better bend, tug sideways on the inside rein. Don't hold & wait for a reaction - tug and give. Harley would give temporarily every time I did this. He got better the longer the ride went.
- Ask nicely once, then be assertive! Don't be scared to use the spurs with force, rather than pester and nag him.
- When he does spook or startle or get distracted by something, DO SOMETHING. Leg yield, bend, circle, move the feet faster. Don't "sit up there quiet & wait to see what happens". In the video, he startled at something, and I remember thinking, "I've had it, you twit!" I hit him with both spurs, and he elevated and shot forward, like the spook never happened. HAH! So that's the trick!
- No more "piano hands" - thumbs up!
- Don't toss the reins away in stretch trot, or free walk. Let Harley take them from me slowly, and add a bit of bend when I take them back.
- In case you didn't figure the theme yet of the lesson? BEND!
His canter work was definitely better. I don't know if it's visible on that video or not, but he was cantering 15 down to 10m circles leg yielding in and out at canter-right. That's a first! Fantastic! His canter left was improved, even when he did try to duck to the side away from Jen and later some plastic cavaletti boxes, I was mostly able to control it.
A super awesome lesson! Harley and I were both soaked in sweat, and I don't know about him, but I was wore Out! MrsN is the neatest instructor, and definitely an awesome cheerleader. Harley didn't bring his A-game on Saturday, and she still found us things to work on.
Sunday, even though I was tired, I rode him again briefly. I worked on the leg yields for transitions, and also pushed to get his "big trot" that you see a bit in those videos. He has a big trot, and he's capable of riding it. He just doesn't want to offer it.
Romeo, obviously jealous of the time H has had riding, let me know his displeasure Sunday morning. We walked, we trotted, I asked for canter, and BUCK! He arched his back and hopped a couple times. I squeezed with my calves, and he did it a few more. I "rewarded" his bad behavior with LOTS of canter around the arena, and multiple simple lead changes. Mo was tired and obedient after that, and I got some nice slow canter later in the ride.
Weather controls when we ride next. We got some amazing wonderful rain on Sunday night/Monday. Monday evening I walked out to the arena to find it damp and soft. No puddles in sight. What a terrific rainfall!