Thursday, June 2, 2011

Day four of wet blankets and long miles

It's been a few days since the last post... apologies for that!  Time constraints made it necessary to choose between working horses and posting... riding won! 

Day four: 
Today, we worked a bit at refining our turn on the forehand.  The key here is when you release your leg pressure.  The release of pressure should happen just before the hind leg goes to move.  It takes a while to be able to feel the exact moment that its happening, but if you put that effort in, your horse will progress much faster. 

There's a great video clip by Les Vogt ('s the third video down on the page) that talks about 'loading' vs 'unloading'.  Basically, what happens is you allow the movement you are looking for to become a reward in and of itself.  I like to keep that in mind, as it makes the horse much happier to perform. 

The other keys to this exercise are:
1.  lateral flexion.  If you have to expend a lot of effort getting your horse's nose to come around and STAY around, you need to go back a few steps.  Odds are, the fact that you are hauling away on the mouth is going to affect the forward movement of the horse... which brings us to:

2.  Forward movement.  Well, not so much forward, but definitively movement.  There needs to be some impulsion in this maneuver.

3.  Consistency in position:  Do the same thing each and every time, and you will speed up the learning process.  Be conscience of WHERE you are putting your leg, WHERE you are putting your hand, WHERE your body position is.  Be consistent in the order of your cues.  Personally, I like to
  • Look at the hip (this automatically positions my body correctly)
  • Bring my leg back and apply pressure (light calf pressure, moderate pressure, firm pressure, heel pressure, turn my heel up....)
  • Tip the nose around with my rein as much as necessary to get the movement
  • Release as the back leg is about to come off the ground
4.  Exaggerate your cues:  To facilitate your horse's learning, exaggerate.  Put your leg as far back as you can to make it crystal clear what part of the body you want him to move. Turn clear around in your saddle and look at that hip.  Leave no question as to what you want him to do. 

5.  Refinement is a gradual process:  Don't be in a rush to make it pretty.  Get it good and solid first.  Gradually refine your cues, just a degree at a time.  It will happen, just don't rush it.


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