Friday, October 03, 2008

Yesterday went much better than the previous two sessions. Although he gave me the butt when I went to collect him and Shaveya for feet trims, he quickly sighed and allowed me to halter him when he realized I wasn't going away anytime soon.

After trimming, I took him to the round pen for a bit of Liberty. No goals, no agenda—just see what happens. My only "goal" was to be far more polite, watch for his try, reward more, be softer, and if I get what I want, stop there—don't push for more.

The improvements were startling. (More after the jump.)

I played all 7 games with him at Liberty. He is still turning to the right when I yo-yo him back. I tried to remember what I'd viewed on a L2 or Savvy Club DVD (been watching a lot lately) from teaching Sideways—fix each part separately. So, I can't back him up AND correct position. Better to get him into position and ask for the yo-yo. If he starts to angle, stop, reposition, wait. Try again. Did that a few times and it began to click.

The segment I was watching in my head was Linda teaching Sideways Mounted without a fence. Horses will try to go forward, backward, left, right—anything but Sideways. So it's a case of "not there, not there, not there—there" in response to a step forward, a step back, a step turned—sideways.

I used this method all day and my goodness. Success is back. OK, so my problem is sometimes I get distracted by life or my own brain and get too quick, too pushy, too impatient. Got it. Slow down, be more step-by-step, be patient.

Big successes:
  • my riding felt better
  • he did Sideways Mounted without a fence
  • Fig 8's Mounted are better
  • transitions are better
I was being more precise in asking for transitions to the point where I wanted to see if he was listening to me or just reacting. I boiled it down to things like walk one step, stop, backup one step, stop, walk three, stop, trot five, stop, back up two. At first he was just on auto-pilot but pretty soon he was waiting to see what I wanted. Cool.

Worked on picking up leads. I practiced at the walk taking away one lead by bending, positioning for the next. Then at the trot. Then just getting the lead—not changing yet. Then when that was working okay, I tried Bowtie at the trot. Just bend to a walk, change direction, resume. That got to be automatic for him so we stopped.

Lots of FTR, a quick Cloverleaf, some random riding and PPL and a lot of sitting and meditating. It was a good day.

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