Today was just a great day. We started with questions and discussion for about 90 minutes. We covered lots of topics and Dave showed some great video of a circus trainer doing liberty in a round circle with 6 - 7 horses at a time! Then, we went out and we each got 2 carrot sticks to practice doing the horses gaits ourselves. We hold the carrot sticks as front legs and our own legs are the hinds. We then go through all the gaits of a horse (besides galloping), including gaiting horses gaits like running walk, fox trot, pace, etc... We also did flying lead changes, which was really hard! My legs and arms kept getting out of synch and it helped me realize how easy it must be for horses to feel the same way. I didn't have someone on my back adding "noise" either. What if I had a rider too, who kept telling me what to do and telling my wrong? Oh, what we put these horses through...
This was a fun session and there was lots of laughing and smiling. I enjoyed the group and really feeling 4 legs. I found trotting to be quite easy, but the canter was tough for me to simulate. We did half-passing, shoulders in, haunches in, renvers and traverse. We also did some shoulders in and haunches in with a partner - helping our partner get their body correct to ride those maneuvers.
During lunch, I grabbed a little food and then took Z out for some long line playing on the hills. She was full of exuberance and gave me quite a few playful rears!! I'd like to develop the rear - it's time. She's so cute up on her hind, too. I also want to go back to spanish walk and get that going again. I just have to be more particular about her doing only when asked. I tacked her up then and played some more while the others finished the lunch break.
I started asking Z to bring her head below the withers on my tapping cue to her shoulder. She understand fairly quickly and was dropping her head to my subtle cue. Then, I tried to start playing the games and asking her to maintain her low head. We didn't do much, just a little circle game. We'll play with that more at home. After that, I hopped on and we played on the playground. Sandy has a great mailbox setup with a pink flag inside. Z was bothered by the mailbox, so I asked an auditor to open and close the mailbox while I worked on Z's confidence. We got some nice relaxation going, especially when I put a treat on the opened mailbox door. I need a mailbox in my playground.
After the lunch break, we went out and he worked with the other group on yielding the hind and rocking the horse back to glide into yielding the fore. When they had that going, we went out and played bullfighting with them. The advanced students had a carrot stick and would "charge" the hind or shoulder of a horse, helping the rider yield the hind or fore. If the horse was sticky, we'd tap the horse for the rider to help them get a better yield.
Then, Dave wanted to focus on the advanced students. He took us into the indoor arena since the rain was coming down good and we worked on the 8 bends. We started with just disengaging the hind, rocking back and then yielding the fore. Z and I can do this well and he used us as the demo, always a great compliment. We can do this with a lot of seat and very little reins, so he complimented us on barely being able to tell how I was cueing Z. We'd had a rough couple days, not on our best and so it was nice for me to feel like we were really great at something. The 8 bends were a little tougher, but Z and I got it done. She got a little tight, but she relaxed fairly quickly and Dave reminded me to not walk out of the bending until her poll was at or below the withers.
I had 4 different students come to me asking the breed of my horse and commenting on her beauty and stature. I had one woman ask that I please let her know if I ever decide not to use her for whatever reason. She wanted to add Z to her breeding program!! It's unusual for Z to get that kind of attention, but really we don't ride in front of people often. Still, it was intriguing to get that much attention from the crowd for my bay Anglo-Arab. Was it because we had gotten our act together and Z was looking so great? Or would they have thought that if they saw her just standing in the pen? I guess I don't think so. I think her nice collected movement and extended leg movement won her the attention. Proud of her!!
I'd brought Gemini in the morning thinking to give him more time away from home, but especially to give Z a trailer buddy to ease her worries. I commit to not trailer her alone until we fix her trailering issue. She's just fine with a buddy. Z never likes to be alone - but especially not alone in the trailer. We've got some work to do.
Side note: Tina is actually getting too fat! She's very settled into the herd and has her hay eating buddies. She's happy to find her own pile of hay off to the side as well. Whatever, she's put weight on here!