Private lessons are addictive!
Clinics and workshops are great, but you learn so much more in one-to-one teaching, and working with my own horse too. I had been worried that Fina would not be able to deal with the concentrated attention, but she appeared fine and "with us" throughout, except for one small period of introversion in the first hour which we waited out. There was lots of talking in between tasks, and we gave her time to digest her thoughts before moving on. I think Fina enjoyed having my undivided attention and was very connected, she loves learning as long as she isn't rushed, and when we were talking or giving her a rest, she chilled with us and didn't try to go off and eat as they do when they are bored or unwilling to participate. The sessions were not long, and broken up with discussion and theory, and lunch, and so we did online in the morning followed by a liberty session, to test the connection once the halter was off. After lunch was recap, pre-flight checks then freestyle (riding without contact), in the halter, and using the carrot stick for turning which is something I haven't done alone as I wasn't really sure how it worked. I found it really helped Fina and enabled us to "follow the rail" and use some other patterns designed to develop sense of direction and riding with feel, without using the reins, leading to bridleless riding, which is one of my goals.
My brief to Jo was to look at online and freestyle (riding without contact) and some liberty. So the mornings were spent on line, finishing with a short session in the roundpen at liberty, to test our connection; and saddle up for freestyle in the afternoon. Two days of teaching meant I could learn one day and progress and refine the next. As always, Jo's teaching is structured but flexible, and inspiring as well as fun - totally addictive!
First Jo wanted to see us in all 7 games to assess us. A few things showed up including something I wanted to ask about. I could send Fina, or back her up, but asking her towards me, I didn't have a good draw and I was relying on the rope. Jo coached me with suggestions and some patterns to help; (see below) and very quickly I had Fina moving happily towards me. Then we were able to use this on a circle then figure 8.
#1 extreme friendly game
#2 vertical flexion from the halter. Wait, don't increase the pressure, wait for them to find the release.
#3 quality, lifting of shoulders, do it until have quality and rhythm and effort
#4 : Improving draw. Isolate, take that ingredient. What creates draw? Start close, one or two steps. Invite with body, suggestion on rope, stick at side. Support with stick to side, invite with body back and open, don't rely on porcupine but slight feel on line. Patterns to improve draw. Semi circle then back along fence, keep facing them then draw backwards. Sweet spot in centre of head, face because you want the two eyes, two ears on you. Increase distance gradually. A pattern to help. Off circle using fence or rail to support. Send as for circle, then move towards fence and as horse reaches rail, backwards and draw. Remember to keep belly button towards horse, don't turn sideways. On circle, change of direction, with draw backwards. Then step forward towards horse support with stick to shoulder, could you please, take that bit away. No spiralling, keep body straight.
Some notes from the lessons and thoughts for the day (to remember!):Testing the 7 games and knowing why we play online : Teaching. Preparation for riding and for liberty. For safety. For fun.
Remember it's about winning the games, not just playing them.
Motivation, have a goal, a reason for doing something.
Use filter of quality, distance, speed. Think about testing through these, in that order, and look for where they meet the edge, you can push the horse to it and bring back, thus expanding and playing with their limits.
They need to own the solution. Waiting and allowing them to rest on the release and think helps them to do this. Allow them to relax between requests.
Circle and squeeze games - be playful, provocative
Don't let them tell you but don't make them feel wrong.
Do they need consistency or variety?
Mind, flexion, weight, feet : Look for the mind going and do something when it's just a thought - watch for the ear or head turning away, do less sooner than more later - don't let them leave!