What a day!!!
For the first time in weeks, it wasn't blowing the dog off the chain, it wasn't raining, there was no threat of thunder. The sun was out, it was a bloody nice day!
So - What better way to spend a Sunday, than - sitting in the sun drinking tea all day, er, I mean, riding!!
As it happens, I did both. Sante, being the sporting type that he is, met me at the gate this morning. I was planning on sneaking into the paddock, hoping to catch him lying down and get some sleeping shots of him, but he decided to meet me at the gate. God love him :)
After getting his feed done, I decided I had earned myself a nice cup of tea. So I sat, in the glorious sun, watching Sante eat, while i drank tea..
This took two hours. (Hard work i tell you!)
At 11:00am My friend and I decided it was about time we accomplished something with the day, so we saddled up.
Yesterday, while riding, Sante was tossing his head a little when i asked for the trot. I figured I'd put his saddle to far forward. I'm still getting used ot this new saddle position. The right position just looks to far back!
But today, i remeasured his scapula at rest & extended, and put the saddle back. Yikes theres a lot of horse in front of me!
Anyway, we headed out for a nice ride, at the cracking pace of a dawdle.
Confession time: I'm not a very confident rider. I used to be.. well.. mostly, but now I'm not. After the first fall on Sante, I was ok. Then the second, i was a bit shattered, but thought I got over it, well, the third & fourth knocked off whatever confidence I had left.
See -- the problem isn't that Sante is spooky or crazy or anything like that, he just lacks confidence.
When i bought him, he was a super quiet horse with no issues. He was also a super introverted horse with no spirit.
Parelli has enabled me to give him confidence, and as such, I have awoken his spirit. He is not afraid to act like a horse, and he is not afraid to tell me what he is thinking.
He is not confident under saddle. Now, I know that your saying green on green makes black on blue, but its not quite like that.
See, I have tremendous confidence on hte ground - We are accomplishing sooo much, He offers me everything. But my problem is - I'm far to nice, and under saddle, I "don't want to pull on his mouth" "don't want to upset him" ... I... well.. don't show any leadership.
I rarely use my one rein stop - Something that I only really discovered on the trip down the freeway as I was thinking about the upcoming ride.
See, my fear issues are as follows:
I'm afraid of Sante spooking at things & me falling off
I'm afraid of Sante avoiding the bit and running off
I'm afraid of Sante doing his little western spin thing & throwing me off
I'm afraid of yanking on the mouth I've spent so much time making sensative.
Through all these fears, I realized I wasn't getting terribly pro-active about solving the problem.
Sante's lateral flexion is fantastic, but lateral flexion when he's on adrenaline - not so good. Stopping from a canter to a stop in an arena? perfect. Stopping from a canter out on the open trail when the horse in front of him is still cantering -- Not so good.
And, these have been my issues - Fear of a lack of control.
Today - I decided to confront these issues.
I did a lot of transition work, walk to trot, trot to walk, all the time asking politely for the stop:
Phase 1 - Stop riding with my body & breath
Phase 2 - life the rein
Phase 3 - Slide my hand down the rein
Phase 4 - Lateral flexion
All went well. Our next challenge was when he was getting on adrenaline. See, he's ok when he's walking, but if he's trotting and the horse infront is trotting, If I ask for the stop, and the horse in front doesn't stop, he gets upset, and throws his head in the air, avoiding the bit.
We got to practise this so much today, and i could not beleive the results. it was like the act of lateral flexion was hitting " reset " switch.
Horse in front would trot off, after about 20 metres, I'd ask for the trot, and shortly afterward cue the stop. He would throw his head up, get bracey and try to jig jog or break into a canter. My USUAL reaction is to brace and try to continue to ride the stop - BIG MISTAKE - and this is where I have come off in the past. Today i rode the jig jog, got myself into the correct position to get the stop (shortened reins etc) asked for the stop, and not releasing hte lateral flexion until he was soft in the flex. As soon as I asked for the walk again, he would drop his head, lick & chew and wander off as if nothing had happened. He was with me, listening. Even though we had to repeat this over & over and over again, every time i did the one rein stop, he "came back to me" A few times he got spooky - I did the one rein stop, he came back to me.
Today's ride has done wonders for my confidence. I feel like I can control him, no matter what he does. As long as i continue to interrupt his pattern before he has a Right Brained reaction under saddle, I can encourage him to modify his behaviour.
Our journey just got a lot more interesting.
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