Monday, June 9, 2008

Private with Terry

What a nice man! He was easy to work with and gave me a plethora of golden nuggets of knowledge. I enjoyed him immensely. I have a long list here of things I learned about where I need to focus and ways to keep it interesting on work on parts:

1) Monkey Riding- wha?? Yep, monkey riding. So, you pull your reins to extreme concentration, you stand in your stirrups and ask your horse to find the release on the bit themselves. It's a way to get vertical flexion while moving. Start at the walk, work to trot and canter. The idea is to get them to move from behind and use their backs. It's called monkey riding because you tuck your hands so your nuckles face forward and rest them right up against the front of your saddle. The reins don't move that way and it's up to the horse to find the release - which they find by flexing vertically. Genius! Z didn't want to move that way at first so I gave her just an inch or so more reins and she got the idea.

2) Canter Yo-Yo's - the stop should be as if I don't want her to drop off a cliff! I'm not being firm enough in the stop. It's up to my horse to get off the bit and if I ask for a steady, firm stop and she hits the bit, it's her own fault. It's also my responsibility to stop my riding before I ask her to stop in the bit. This will get my bridleless riding even more crisp. Also, STRAIGHT, STRAIGHT, STRAIGHT! Let the fence stop her if necessary or to practice stopping from my seat but hold her straight to it.

"The only reason to put a bit in the mouth is to create a wall." - Tom Dorrance

3) Counter-arching- use a stick to push the hind while asking for her to move the hind with my leg AND while asking her to hold her vertical flexion with her head slightly in the direction of travel. This is the same as haunches in, but without a rail or trail. Z understood this fairly quickly.

4) Canter in - She has to be better about the poll pressure from the halter. She has to be able to canter into me with poll pressure. This was the one time I handed my horse to Terry for a demo. He got her to move towards him at the canter by applying poll pressure and causing commotion as long as she was holding against it. Once she yielded, he would stop and reward. I think did it with her and it made perfect sense. Z learns fast, so she was already getting the idea. This is important for building impulsion on the ground and flying lead changes on the 45'.

5) Circle barrels bridleless with sticks until it's a formed pattern. Once she can do one with a correction, stop and treat/reward. Build on it. Make the barrels a sweet spot.

6) Vertical-Lateral-Vertical - she understood this well, but asking for a soft feel with a concentrated rein. She looked pretty. :-)

7) Make jumps from the ground more "matter of fact". Get to vs Got to. Let her make the choice. I'm being too soft about asking her to go over when she's unconfident. Step up my leadership. Expect a lot, accept a little, reward often.

8) Sideways on the 45' - use 2 barrels as targets and go between them!! Cool idea. Put a treat on the barrel or some other way to reward her for sidepassing to it. Give her a reason to cover the distance. We'll be trying that for sure.

9) Cantering - She should be able to give me 20 canter laps. Build to it and stop putting it off. It's too important.

10) Efficient cantering - ask her to canter in the round pen until her head drops below the top rail. Once it does, let her rest. Then start again. She should get better at recognizing I let her stop when she drops her head and then build that in as a way of going in the canter. It could take 30+ laps, so stick with it until she makes the change.

11) Bareback/Bridleless - use 2 sticks more often. 1 stick doesn't help build in the body cues as well. Also, when riding with 1 stick, ALWAYS give the cue from that side, don't cross over the mane line. Only cross the stick over when asking her to disengage. Important - I can't pass tasks if I misuse the stick.

12) Jumping - If she can see through the jump (a rail vs a barrel), she might feel more confident. She has to jump 3' for L3 tasks so get her feeling like it's no big thing. She has the athleticism.

13) Collection - walk downhill with very concentrated reins and get her using her back and haunches better. He felt that better use of the hind will help her hoof dragging. Interesting and I want to see if she changes shapes. He said slow and easy and build to trot or canter downhill while asking for collection. She's got to get way underneath herself.

14). Monkey riding on uneven ground - this will help her a lot. Traversing uneven ground in very tight concentrated reins will help her use her body better all the time.

15) Walk/Trot/Canter YO-YO's - do this way more and lots of point to point, especially in the canter. Get her traversing straight in the canter. We've developed a bad habit of cantering out in an arch. We made some great changes here.

16) Hip Pointing - a great exercise for making sideways more supple. Play touch your hip on it, instead of touch your nose. Great idea - another solid nugget!

17) Sideways towards - TEACH THIS LAST! He's seen too many horses get confused with this one and he stressed to teach it as the last thing so it doesn't cause trouble with everything else I'm building with Z.

18) Specifically for us: Bareback riding position looks good, need to spend at least 5-10 mins a day doing it and get brave at the canter. We cantered bareback a bit so he could see what I'm doing. He was satisfied with how I was asking and riding. In the saddle, I should try to sit a little closer to the pommel and not push against the cantle as much. This seemed to help me be less stiff in my lower leg. I need to ask for the canter as lightly as possible. Differentiate the canter depart from the trot depart in my body language.

19) Practice butterfly reins as a friendly game!

20) Bareback riding and balancing- put your knees up at the withers so your lower leg hangs over the shoulders. It makes you feel very stable and you can go back to that position to get your balance. The position of your butt at that point is the way you want to ride bareback all the time. Lower your legs slowly and then raise them when you get off balance.

He was an optimistic and positive person to learn from. I walked away elated and so pleasantly surprised. Awesome. I'll be watching for him to come back to town. Terry Wilson -

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