Yesterday was DAY ONE of my 30 day commitment to do something with my horse everyday. I have to say it went exceedingly well.
The idea is to have a plan - an blueprint of the session I would like to have with my horse. The plan can be adjusted based on the horse that shows up. But I have to start with a plan.
So here is the report for the first day:
Ground - L2 Online Patterns: Touch It; Z3 Driving walk-trot transitions
Riding -L1 Freestyle Patterns: Follow the Rail; Bowtie at a walk-trot; HQ disengagement with the CS
Cricket did not want to be caught. For her, that means not coming to me when I call her. I trudged out in the field and haltered her. I was not happy. It did not seem an auspicious start to my grand endeavour. I dragged her in. Literally. She is so bad about putting slack in the rope when I lead her. I gave her a long time to figure it out on her own before adding some driving to reinforce my request. This is something to go on my "Holes" list.
I kept the ground session brief. Cricket is very solid in her ground work and my goal for on-line is to bring back her enthusiasm. I played Touch It at the popper of the 22' line, using cookies on obstacles to motivate her to put forth effort. I tried to keep my "encouragement" to a minimum. After four or five touches, she offered a soft trot with just a hint from me. I consider that a win. Next we played with Z3 driving, using a single smooch for an upward transition and life down/CS in front of the drive line for a downward transition. I think I need to work on my energy. Cricket wants to match my feet and I don't want her dependent on me moving for her to move. To the left she was good but to the right she was ignoring my downward transition. I was pretty strong with the lead line and she quickly figured out that the stick was the best deal and gave me some lovely transitions.
I saddled her up. She's started ear-pinning during saddling and I'm not sure why. I've started treating her for ulcers. I also used lots of cookies during saddling. Her opinion changed rapidly. But the ear pinning returned at mounting. Hmm, something to work on in a future session. After a quick tune-up on "stand for mounting," she was happy to pick me up. After a quick check of our lateral flexion, we started with follow the rail at the walk.
Cricket has started equating my leg with "go forward." This is something we need to fix. Now. So Follow the Rail became Corners Game. I asked her to stop in the corner and I waited for the lick and chew. Then I moved either her forehand or her hindquarters and asked her to stay in the corner until she could relax into the halt. In one corner we got some amazing "follow the feel to shift the weight." That will come in handy later.
Then it got interesting. The barn owner's horses started running and that stirred up the boarder horses. Cricket became very concerned. I could feel her RB kick in but I could still feel her LB in control. First I turned her to face the thundering herd so she could see what was happening. When I was sure she wasn't going to blow, I started asking her for HQ disengagement. Then follow the rail with turns into the rail. Then some walk-trot transitions. I was exceedingly proud of myself for staying on her. Not out of silly bravado. I felt she was still with me and my thoughts about getting off were "if she escalates one iota, I need to get off." I never felt scared or unsafe, even though she was pretty "alert."
After some easy transitions on the rail, I asked her for a Bowtie Pattern. My plan is to build this to a point where I can safely ask her to canter and still feel in control. She was FANTASTIC! After a few repetitions she was giving me the softest trot and the sweetest downward transitions.
We ventured out of the arena to talk with the barn owner. I took her back in to unsaddle her but her brain was still outside. I decided to use some CS Lateral Flexion to HQ disengagement to refocus her. She is absolutely convinced leg = go forward. After a few attempts, she figured out it was not about forward. I dismounted and gave her a cookie.
She stood tied while I prepped the food and waited like such a lady until I took her to her stall to eat.
What an awesome session! I wonder what today's session will bring. The plan is more Touch It and some circle game followed by Follow the Rail and some CS riding at the walk and trot.