Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Groundwork for both of us

 So Gwyn got hock and stifle injections while I was away for my work conference and when I came back she was still NQR. To that end I've continued keeping work load stress light and focusing on things that are less high impact.  Like ground work. 

This prompts a "stay in School, Gwyn!" correction lol
I would really like to be lighter with my aids and I do think that starts from the ground and can be applied in the saddle. We have a trainer coming out regularly (some of the boarders REALLY need to work on it) and I leapt at the opportunity. 
Super soft and paying attention like a good girl
We worked on backing up with as minimal an ask as possible. We worked on groundwork after the riding portion of the lesson and I think Gwyn had a hard time remembering what groundwork was because we had to get fairly loud in the aid. But when I went to practice the next time at the barn, we did groundwork first and she was SO sensitive like I remember. We just had to knock that rust off. Literally just a finger wiggle and she'd step back. 
Super super cute Goober. I just love her expression here. 
I also asked for her to give and turn on the haunches. We also got a new mounting block at the barn that's the biggest we could buy in plastic molded and I wanted to see if it was good for getting on bareback. Gwyn is big and I'm stiff, so if I could use it, then I won't have to need the tractor. 

While riding bareback my plan was to work on some of my physical therapy homework, namely using leg aids without using the back of my calf, which is causing strain in my old knee injury. Since I also like low effort riding, I didn't bother to use a bridle and said 'Fuck it' and just clipped my mohair reins to the rope halter. If I'm supposed to be working on turning her with just my seat and legs, let's just jump in the deep end and take away my ability to pull on her mouth. 
On Sunday, Trainer C came out again for another session. This time I came in with a plan. I'm going to be out of commission for my surgery in 10 days. Let's pick something that Gwyn is okay at and make it excellent.  Namely, I want to be able to place her very specifically so I can get on her on the trail if I get off. I can't mount from the ground, so positioning her to use stumps and logs as mounting blocks is useful. 
Thinking ear
So we played a game. Make the Goober Mare walk down the pole with left legs on one side and right legs on the other without being up in her business. 
Pushing back but attentive
This was a big brain day for both me and Gwyn. I think to a some outside observers it looked like we were doing nothing but wow, fine tuning into her body was super cool. Like watching her contemplate taking a step with a super soft ask because the muscles in her pecs were twitching back and forth but her weight wasn't actually shifting yet. It was so subtle. 
Thinking some more, softening. Lots of opinions
I was able to get her front feet straddling the pole with little issue. And learning just how loud I am and how quiet I need to become was a good lesson for me. Her back feet were tricky. You can see in these pictures, it's not just the angle I'm taking the photos at, but home girl here likes to have her hind end shifted just that touch to the right. Goober is crooked.  I have my suspicions as to why (hmmm, that bad left stifle?)
"Fine, I'll play the silly game"
Anyway, this is a game in straightness and delicate communication. And low effort say, if you're recovering from surgery and need pony time. There was a lot of licking, chewing and yawning as Gwyn thought about what we were doing. And then would lift a foot. And think about where she was setting it down.
Listening and being allowed to relax after finally getting all four feet placed properly
I was not able to get her straight straddling the pole with all four feet. C did. I was able to get her to take a couple steps, but eventually the crookedness won and she decided tripoding was preferable to straddling. 
Softening and thinking
At one point she even just straight up stood on the pole (it's landscape poles, so flat on a portion) rather than straddle.
Weight shift onto the front right foot, thinking about moving the front left but mind where she's looking.

"I tap the pole"
The big thing I need to work on is not being late in reaction. I keep the pressure on too soon and I don't correct. Gwyn reaches a point where she thinks she knows what the rest of the answer is and she rushes to guess and I'm not quick enough to correct correctly. So that's something for me to work on. 
Also, key words are patience. I need to wait and recognize that she's thinking about it and that me pushing too hard is going to create an incorrect answer on her part.  And that it's okay to choose to walk away and reset. In fact it's probably a good plan to do that if we get to a point where I don't feel like I have enough control each foot to move it where it needs to go.
Those hind feet are ballerina style in line
Things for me to remember are that I want her looking in the direction of travel and that hind feet connect to eye line the same way backing a trailer is connected to which way you turn the steering wheel. If I want the left hind to move right, she needs to be looking left. 
"Don't wanna move that hind leg back over!"

I like that I have some homework to do with her while I'm recuperating from surgery. I'm looking forward to seeing our communication get finely tuned!

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