Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Searching for Center

Steen's basics have been so solid lately I've been having to push myself a bit to be equal to the task of teaching him more. It's one thing to have a good seat and to guide a horse through the basic maneuvers most people expect a horse to do. It's something else to keep yourself positioned so as to never inhibit the horse's ability to do what you are asking. I am by no means perfect at this, but it is starting to be more obvious to me when I'm getting in the way.

Today we were stuck in the indoor again. I started with using the flag. One of Steen's major remaining flaws in terms of groundwork is he has a tendency to interpret unfamiliar stimuli as a command to move. So if I twirl a rope or flap the flag around he tries to yield to that object, whether or not I'm actually driving him with it. So today we worked on standing still even when the flag was making a lot of noise everywhere around, and also yielding to the flag when my body language was clearly asking for that response. He did pretty well, although I could tell it was difficult for him.

I got on and we started out walking the rectangle, with the four sides made up of a collected forward walk, side-pass to the left, backing, and side-pass to the right. These were amazing. I did them entirely with collection, and Steen was so soft and so attentive. With walking forward he'd wait for my seat to ask for each step, and then when I shifted to side-passing, the only change would be a slight re-positioning of the reins and lifting one leg to five him a place to go. It was pretty magical. We are also getting much much better at backing with rhythm. A couple of times we got through the whole rectangle on the same cadence.

We also worked on some simple lead changes, and jumping into the lope from backing. Steen really nailed that a few times.

I also watched Brian and Laredo quite a bit. They were still having some calibration issues. It is useful to watch Brian ride him, because it helps me see more clearly some things that happen when I am on him too.

Ride Time: 1:30
Horseback Hours YTD: 27:15

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