So, I'm a bad person who didn't update her blog last week.
But it was all fantastically awesome. I swear!
Saturday - I was feeling all super charged about my weightloss (So I haven't mentioned that yet, but thats another post) that i decided to walk Sante at liberty down "Steve's Trail" and into the valley to play around and see the sights.
It didn't start out well... turns out the increadible liberty session we had from last weekend was purely a one time thing. He refused to come forward and kept trying to go home after we finally got started - and I got the feeling he was beginning another one of his usual avoidance strategies that he has. I ended up putting him on the 22ft line and long reigning him from z5. The second i put the line on, his attitude changed - I could see the try. He kept doing his trick of walkign about 20 metres & then stopping, I eventually got him to the point that when he stoped I gave the command "Walk on" tapped him gently, in z5 with the carrot stick, and then went straight to phase 4. After a while, he just stopped stopping. Which was what I was going for - the trail was a good 5km, and it took us well over an hour, Sante did really well - once we got into the valley, we sat in a field of long grass and Sante grazed for a good half hour.
I realized that not bringing lunch with me was a bad idea, but saddling Sante was a great idea! Being to hungry to walk, i jumped on and rode him into "mill paddock" to play around.
We played online for about 15 minutes, and after that I jumped back on to practise our patterns.
Can't tell you how awesome the change in him was. After about 20 minutes under saddle, i had perfect 30m circles in walk & trot, freestyle. Just amazing! The try from Sante was increadible. His confidence was up, and he was really "with me".
We rode from Mill paddock up to the main agistment yards, where Sante promptly fell asleep. I beleive the mental exertion for him finally took its toll, and decided against riding him back to spelling.
The next day, I put the long reigns on him in the round yard. I'm determined to keep our sessions in the round yard (with long reigns) as short & successful as possible. Collection isn't easy for him, and i don't want him feeling trapped or claustraphobic. We did about 20 minutes in the round yard - with about 15 minutes actual work time, the rest was just rest times and reward time for him.
Huge improvement in the long reigns, practically offers the correct frame in the walk, and falls into it a lot easier in the trot. As soon as i could see that he was "softening" to the idea, I quit and left it at that.
Gave him a good solid hour grazing (spent overnight in a dirt yard so was a bit hungry) and then saddled him up to do a little work in the arena.
We only did half an hour in the arena, but honestly, it was the singly most successful session we have ever done under saddle.
He offered me everything. All i had to do was suggest, and the collection would come in both walk AND trot. Sante & I have never had any success under saddle with collection at the trot, and after last weeks session with Alyce, and then the sessions on the long reigns, he finally got it. It didn't take him long to remember how much more comfortable it felt, and he started offering it - practically an entire LAP of collection at the trot. I could sense everytime he was getting to the end of his ability to hold it, and would offer the release, which then in turn caused him to offer the frame again. The session was so successful, and I really felt that we had turned a corner when it comes to our under saddle woes.
He then blew my mind on the ride home - its only a 2km ride home, but its usually a very long 2km, full of arguments and frustration.
He walked home like a confident thoroughbred, not once did he stop. Not once did he shy. Not once did he argue. He was alert, he was confident, he was responsive - and we both enjoyed a peaceful lazy walk back to his waiting girlfriends.
I can't wait for tomorrow - I intend to follow the same "game plan" Solid ground work before the ride - build his confidence up on the ground, and then shift to saddle.
Let you know how it goes.
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