Today, we worked on leads and canter departs and transitions it was an amazing lesson. I was getting something better from Z than I've ever gotten. I'm absolutely thrilled. He started off by teaching me a new way to back. I hold both reins concentrated then lift them, one at a time, alternating sides. I also bicycle backwards (something I've been doing already). It causes Z to drop her head and use her body to go backwards. It also keeps me from pulling on her mouth. My hands need to be even softer. So we started transitioning. He had me always go up then down to a backup. We were trot departing, then backing, then trot departing... We then started canter departing from the trot. I was dropping my shoulder to the inside, so I'm trying to ride with my shoulders more straight. I'm also hunching a little, so I need to make sure I stay up tall and look forward. Anyway, we transitioned up and down and rode the rail and changed direction. We were getting a ton better in no time flat. Then we stopped and talked about sideways and how to get sideways bridleless. We worked on isolating the ends with just the neck rope and a stick. That went well. I have to remember to lift the stick up and down to get backwards and not be afraid to use the stick on either side of her head. I also have to ask her softly with my cues if I want a soft horse. I'm asking too much with my heel and leg. I have to ask, then promise. Z picks it up quickly if I'm clear.
For sideways, keep me and my horse straight and use the stick. To get more energy going sideways use the stick and keep my leg/heel aid light. Don't let Z bend as much as possible and make sure my inside toe is pointing out and my head is facing in the direction of travel. Use the stick to push the fore and then the hind repeatedly.
When bridleless, asking for a turn on the fore, have the stick in my outside hand and reach it over to reinforce my soft ask behind the girth. Also, simulate an indirect rein with the neck rope by turning my hand sideways. For the turn on the haunches, use my stick to reinforce the ask and use my neck rope to simulate a direct rein. Use the same hand position I would with reins on the neckrope. Practice backing her with my backwards bike pedaling and using the neck rope with the stick to reinforce by going up and down in Zone 1.
Then we went back to transitions and canter departs. I got some beautiful canter departs! They felt so right! Wow!! I was smiling from ear to ear. Z was not pissed at me and she was working hard and truly trying. Dennis reminded me to pet her rump, too - not only her shoulders and neck. He said it's good for me to stretch back and rub her and good for her to feel my stroke her there from the saddle. He also had me rubbing her rump while we cantered. At first, she got defensive about me reaching back there while she cantered. Told me something important.
Remember, for casual rein, hold with the inside hand! Never heard that before. To get the correct lead, ask with the outside leg behind the girth. This pushes the hind toward the center which allows the horse to get light on the inside fore and take that lead. Keep the inside leg at the girth. Also, stretch the inside arm forward to make sure the horse doesn't run into the reins by accident. Sit back and look forward and almost up.
We found a good place to stop, where I was getting consistent canter departs. I was elated. We talked about 20 mins and just got to know each other a little better. I see him again next Wed at 2pm. I've been needing this disparately.
At the end, he commented on how nice my horse is and how well I've done with her. A compliment! :-) A huge compliment coming from someone of his skill level and experience. He also told me it was obvious my horse wanted to be with me and that said I'm doing a lot of things right. We talked about L3 students and he hasn't had many pass. He seems to think I'd do better to just listen to my horse and build something good with her w/o feeling like I HAVE to go the Parelli path. Easy for him to say... I wonder what we'll look like in 6 months.