Something I learned from my play session with Etruska is the importance of being particular. You see, I know about the importance of being particular. But there is a difference between knowing and learning.
On-line has become my weakest savvy. I've used it too often to make Cricket do something. I need to concentrate on the line as communication rather than control. I need to feel the line as a link between my leadership and Cricket's mind. The key to this is particularity with out criticism.
Bringing her out for the farrier, she was no sooner out of her stall than she was diving for the loose hay in the hallway. Hmm, how interesting. When I ride her out of the arena, she quickly dives for the grass. Time to do something about it. I asked her to wait at the door to the tack room while I got a brush and pick to clean her muddy feet. She immediately headed for the grass right around the corner. I used the lead rope and gave her three sharp bumps with the snap. No emotion just a "nobody said you could eat." She licked and chewed and for the rest of the session, she stood without moving one foot towards the grass. Hmm, how intersting. After the farrier was done I lead her to the grass to allow her some out time. She followed me and I had to actually send her out to eat. Hmm, how interesting.
In my play session later that evening, I used the same particularity. We worked mainly on squeeze game in two different manifestations. I started by asking her to extend her squeeze line using cone markers along the fence. When we started with a 20' squeeze and everything was fine - send through the squeeze and disengage around the cone - until we stretched to 40'. Cricket cut in sharp in front of the cone. With a firm but non-emotional hand, I stopped her and pushed her past the cone and around it. She went completely internal. I told her she was okay and just allowed her to dwell. It took ages - or what seemed like ages - until she finally squared up. Then more waiting until she released the tension and licked her lips. I repositioned her and sent her the other way - the importance of both directions. She was hesitant in her send but went around the cone. More dwell time but a faster lick and chew. One more send, this time with impulsion. She went straight down the wall, passed the cone, disengage, turn, face and wait. I dropped to the ground, facing away from her. She licked and chewed and eventually came up beside me and put her head against my shoulder.
Our next squeeze was straddling a pole - a 4" x 4" timber we have in the arena. She was incredibly calm about putting her hind foot and then her front foot across the pole. Again, she went internal and I waited, asking her to maintain the straddle, until she licked and chewed. Two or three repetitions and she was soft and accepting.
We finished with some bareback riding, using the CS for downward transitions. I need to work more on bending her with the stick. She became upset and started biting the CS. Hmm, need to ponder that and figure out how I can help her.
I think this particularity may be the key to picking up the quality of our on-line. With any luck, by the time the good weather comes around and our fields dry up, I may have enough quality in my ingredients to get some good 45' line work out of her.