Monday, December 1, 2014

Lessons with my Trainer

This is a long overdue post. I am no good at posting when I am on vacation from work, I just don't sit at my computer! I hauled Mikey over to my trainer's winter barn for a lesson the Monday/Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I got to my barn early Monday afternoon to hook up, get hay set up, and get loaded in 50 mph wind gusts and rain. It was awful. Mikey backed off the trailer too, something he hasn't done in years. We has a discussion about staying on the trailer and not moving until I get the butt bar up. I load by myself 90% of the time, he has to remember to stay on! The sun came out as I was leaving, yet it was still raining on me. I made a turn off the barn's road and looked back, and I saw an incredible triple rainbow. The first arch was super bright and had multiple layers of red and orange, and blue and violet. The other two were very faint and could mostly be seen off to the right.

This picture doesn't do the rainbow justice. The naked eye was the only way to view it. It was stunning.
Monday Evening Lesson:
We worked for a short time to show my trainer where we were at. She was happy with our progress. Our half passes are more correct, and he's much more through. We started with trot half pass, and while correct, it lacked expression and his right hind was quiet. She suggested dropping the curb rein on the double bridle so I don't overly engage it by accident. That seemed to help with the lack of expression. We worked a bit on canter half pass next. To the left, he was solid for 3-5 strides and then petered out and trailed his hind end. She said it's just a strength issue, and as with many things, will come with time. At the end of the first one we did a neat and perfect flying change left to right! She was very pleased. For the canter half passes right, he lasted about two strides before becoming a "saucy boy" as she put it and blew through me, skipping right to the flying change. She said he needs to be that cocky about the other lead change, and at that point we can start putting counter canter back into his work and picking the time to do the change. We agreed he absolutely understands the changes and I need to change up how I ask for it every ride. For example, one day use the serpentine, the next on diagonals, the next half passes, the next centerlines etc. We ended up doing 10m circles in the corner after centerline, then making it a 15m, then going down the wall or quarterline, wherever I ended up, and then half passing from there for the canter half pass right. If I didn't, he'd do the first step of half pass from centerline to the wall, then leap out from under me to do the flying change and ruining our connection. Basically I need to change it up enough that he's not anticipating the change.

Some things I realized that night is Mikey doesn't like slippery footing (the arena had been watered but not dragged) and he gets upset when he knows the right answer and can't do it. For example: I didn't set him up right for one of the canter half passes left, and it didn't put him in the right place for the flying change at the wall, and he became very upset that he couldn't make the change when I asked.

Tuesday Morning Lesson:
Our warm up walk and trot work were much better and more relaxed since the arena had been dragged and wasn't slippery anymore. The canter work was better as well, and we warmed up paying attention to him being upright and bending in the corners and keeping the jump and lift in the shoulders. She had me tie up my curb rein and drop it, and we did the canter work without it. We warmed up with a 10m circle at the start of each long side, paying attention to bend, forward, and throughness and then repeating the circle until all of those came together. We then moved on to the half pass from quarterline to centerline so we didn't trip his flying change fuse. We did that both directions, and then did a couple flying changes on short diagonals. He had significantly less attitude, mostly because the arena footing was better and he had settled overnight.

Overall, she liked the new march he had in his walk, the overall throughness and obedience, the progress with the flying changes, how he was going much more off my seat, and just how he seemed to really enjoy his job. She reminded me to keep taking him out for walks- the road, around the farm, anywhere outside of the indoor. He's working well now, but I don't want to ruin his good attitude with too much ring work. Our homework for the next few weeks is to continue the canter half passes, with and without the flying changes. IE sometimes half pass and flying change, sometimes a simple change through walk, sometimes leg yield back to centerline or the quarterline or wherever and then keep tracking the direction I was going. Another thing she said to do was to canter down centerline, maintaining straightness without any change of direction at the end. She also wants me to continue working in his double, but hooking the curb rein to my saddle pad (I hook the front billet velco straps together almost like a grab strap), and doing my work with just the weight of the weymouth in his mouth without engaging the curb.

I loaded him up and took him back home where I promptly turned him out after a couple horse cookies. He was happy to be rid of me!

"Bye Mom!! I don't miss you."
My parents were away Tuesday so I drove to their house to pick up their dog and take her home with me so she didn't spend the day alone. She wasn't sure about hopping all the way up into my truck, and I had to lift her down when we got to my house. She's a 14 year old dog that sometimes has a limp (it's sporadic and we haven't pin-pointed it yet), and I wasn't about to let her jump out of the truck and hurt herself.

She was an excellent truck dog. She loved sitting in the middle of my backseat and staring out the front window. Too bad she doesn't get along with other dogs and barks at horses, otherwise she'd be a perfect horse show dog!

Penny the cat (under the left curtain) and Chuckles the dog (under the right curtain) sharing the window.

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