Saturday, August 9, 2008

Day Five, Fluidity 2

Today was a stretching day for sure. I've been working on getting a soft canter from Z and not having a lot of success. I've worked with Dennis on canter departs and gotten some things going. I've also worked with Terry and learned some other ways to approach it. All in all, I haven't figured out how to get Z to move off into the canter gracefully and happily. She doesn't do it with a smile on her face online or under saddle.

Today, I decided to ask Kristi for help. I don't do this often, so I must really know I need help here. She came to take a look and I decided I should show her what it looks like online first. My horse was giving me the hoof. She was saying, "Hoof You!", when I asked her to canter. Kristi told me I needed to get it right online first and she suggested we play very quickly the 7 games. So, that means 2 steps of sideways, 3 steps on the circle, 1 falling leaf, 1 rolling rock, 4 steps backup and 4 steps drawing in, 2 steps the other direction sideways, a change of direction... and so on. Constantly changing. My horse was absolutely frothy.

I would test her every so often and see if she could canter online with a better look. She definitely took some pot shots by kicking out at me sometimes or trying to pull the rope from me a little. After 30 - 45 minutes, she decided I had changed and maybe she should, too. Ahhhh... She actually had sweat between her back legs and she was drenched. Kristi told me not to ride a canter until she fixed her attitude. We did a little liberty first, then I sat in the round pen with her caught up on some phone calls.

She had calmed down and it was time to ride. So I took her back out, asked for a few things online and got the hoof again. So, we worked some more on playing the games FAST! She was quicker to give in to my leadership than the first time and I put her bridle on and hopped on. She trotted nicely around the honeycomb and she felt good. She also offered the canter a few times - an ears forward, happy canter! I took her off the circle and did some snakey bends. We went up the hill and she did it again - offered a soft canter with ears forward! Gulp! We just had a relationship issue. I realize that's what it all boils down to. If the relationship is right, you'll get what you ask for with your horse. BFO moment.

Z earned grazing time. I hung with some classmates while she ate grass for quite a while. Tough, but highly rewarding day.

Walter Zettle says the trot is the most valuable gait for jumping. Today was all about bits - a bit of savvy. That was very valuable information. I felt like a knew a lot of things already, which was interesting. However, it was interesting to know when to use the small part on the Cradle bit. Also, you can skip using the horsemans reins if you have the savvy with your hands.

Remuda was fantastic. Kristi talked about learning and being uncomfortable and being good to yourself. She talked about her Uni experience and how she didn't have total faith in the program and she had a bit of attitude. She had to figure out how to move forward in Uni and she grew a ton. Cool. I like her the best. We also did a simulation with cantering and riding the canter.

HUGE BFO!!! Wow! So, if you push back at the canter instead of forward it makes a huge difference for the horse. We tried on each other. It helps the horse get light on the front and helps the rider be more fluid. So, of course, I spent the weekend playing with that. My horse said emphatically, "Thank YOU!". Wow, ears forward, happy cantering. Excellent.

Back to bits... A snaffle bit is just a bit with no shanks. Level 1 and 2, use the bit for control (1 rein for communication). Level 2 and 3, use the bit for contact (2 reins for communication). Level 3-4, use the bit for collection. Small rings on the cradle. More than 1:1 pressure on the bit for rein contact. You can also loosen the nose band and use a curb strap on the cradle for more chin action.

Tom Thumb - a tortuous bit. No clear message and causes the rider to have to really pull to get a reaction on the horse. Mylar makes bits called B2 and B3 - great for western excellence. The english double bridle allows lateral and collection with the 2 different bits. Western double bridle is the bosal with a western bridle. A curbed shank is less severe than a straight shank. The english bit on the double bridle is called a Bridoon. The curb/shank is used for rounding and the snaffle for flexing on the english double bridle.

Level 5 plus - the spade bit with a cricket. The cricket gives an audible for mouth action - so you know if the horse is settled and rhythmic or upset and grinding.

Slobber straps = rein leathers.

Fluid Rein - 3 steps:
1) Confident in Zone 1
2) Stretching the top line (getting fluidity)
3) Lengthening the stride (adding energy)
Make sure they are tracking up

We used our hand to show vertical flexion - with the curve of our knuckles representing the curve of the horse. It was hard to get just the neck and not also the body. Interesting.

Don't do fluid rein in a rope halter!!

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