Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Private lessons Part 3 Freestyle

First I had some fun with the one rein riding, and the carrot stick riding too; both helpful for thinking and developing focus and direction through feel, and not relying on the reins. Interestingly I find it hard not to use a tool when it is in my hands, be it rope or reins or stick, and spend time teaching myself not to pick up tool or rein unless I am asking something. A very human habit I'm afraid! These exercises really helped.

The audience watches us check our neutral lateral flexions and Dave takes photos
Jo is coaching me how to throw the rope over her head as I sort myself out for one rein riding

Carrot stick riding was really good and helpful

The carrot stick was held in the inside hand, resting the end on the pommel and the tip on my shoulder. Going round the small arena, I try to turn at the corners and follow the rail/sides as close as possible; of course, the horse doesn't understand why I want to do this and is likely to take her own course, or cut corners, which is logical for them to take the shortest route. The aim for me is to look and focus where I want to go, adjusting hip and belly in that direction, which means a weight shift cue to the horse; then if she doesn't respond I can slowly bring the end of the stick in an arc from my shoulder to point towards her nose to redirect it, using a gntle rolling motion. It is not meant agressively or to touch the horse but just suggest she move her nose over and the body follows. It certainly helped Fina understand what I wanted without having to use a hand or leg aid. Then we introduced points at which I would turn her 180° in a similar manner. In "normal" riding in this same area, I was constantly putting her back on the rail with rein or leg, which was becoming frustrating for both of us. Of course there are other ways you might do this but I found it helpful and works for us. I think this use of a stick when riding is a Parelli technique, not sure if others do it. We didn't have time to develop all these ideas further, Jo was giving me techniques to play with and hopefully develop later on my own. The aim is not to use the stick, it stays in the neutral position on my shoulder, it is only there for support if the horse doesn't respond to the ever reducing cues. After a few minutes of this, we were able to negotiate the weave through the line of tyres without the need for me to do more than look where I wanted to go and Fina picked up on that slight feel.

Other patterns for developing focus and carrot stick riding, after starting with follow the rail:
Point to point
180 turns
Figure 8
Question box
Clover leaf

We also looked for a soft feel and some framing or shaping, through step 7 of the 9 step back up, preparing the horse for forward movement.

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