After my last scheduled lesson got sent far off course due to Gwyn eating a bee (like... REALLY mare?!) I was finally back at it on Sunday! I had originally signed up for a Shawna Karrasch clinic this past weekend at Polestar but it was cancelled due to low sign ups. Like... booo, but also hey, money back! And not trailering in every day stress since I'm only 5 minutes down the road.
We started with working on the ground and really getting Gwyn to stretch down and reach out. A lot of that is making sure I'm timing my cue when her inside hind is starting to swing forward. From there it's working on not nagging her. If she responds to the cue, stop asking as the release. Know where her sticky spots are though (arena entrance) and anticipate/watch the body language for signs she's going to start slowing and ask again. When she gets that floaty trot, it looks magical.
|Photo from a previous ride, I never have time to take pictures during lessons hahah|
After doing some work on the long lines we switched to me on board. This lesson was all about me feeling the timing of Gwyn and feeling the feedback loop. So input from Gwyn to me and then me cued to Gwyn. It should be a cycle, but right now I'm a wall and I need to become not a blockade. So it was working on me while also fulfilling PT duties for Gwyn!
We started with me feeling how she was moving, was she straight, where was her front end, where was her hind end? And then asking for corrections, creating the feedback loop. Going to the right she loves to swing her haunches in, so a lot of what I needed to do was ask for her hind to step in and under her (outside leg keeping her forward). I want to feel like I'm funneling her body between my legs and hands. I'm also working on not leg cuing with my heel, which is a bad habit. It should also help reduce my knee pain.
Going to the left she's crooked more in her shoulder and my focus was on asking her lift her inside shoulder and step over. We did a lot of square turns, and the combo I need to remember is that I want her rocking back onto her haunches (half halt) and lifting the shoulder up (outside leg cue). I have to think the haunches slow while the shoulders keep the same pace.
What was absolutely neat was suddenly feel that stiffness and shoulder drop when we were near the end and she passed the arena exit and I just lost her for a moment. It's where she always runs out and where she spins out if spooking. Now I need to practice that half halt - outside leg cue. Because the mare will square turn without me in her face when I get that timing right. And of course, this is the basis for pirouette. Basics y'all. I'm actually loving working on these basics because I can see where the holes escalated and widened and I'm fixing and filling them in.
Some other things I'm planning to continue work on from the ground include a 'politeness' ground tying. This is specifically focused on the barn because Gwyn loves to LARP as a vacuum cleaner. Great when she's given permission to do so, less great when I'm trying to bridle her and all she wants to do is hoover wisps of hay. I had been trying to work on her head down cue for bridling and if I want to do it in the barn aisle, I was sweeping meticulously beforehand. Goal is that she will stand in the aisle, regardless of errant hay, and wait.
And of course, working on the head down cue. I've made sure to practice every time I put something on her face and she's gotten much better! Goal here is that she will drop her head to make haltering and bridling possible by my kids. They don't have an interest now, but if they ever do, it'll be nice to have that button preinstalled.
In Pony Club news, I have a date for my C-1 Horse Management rating so I've got studying to do and a record book to fully compile before the end of October!