I took Bleu to camp. My intent was to spend four days getting to know her and building a relationship with her. That was just the tip of the iceberg.
What I discovered is a great deal of buried angst about having two horses. For the first two days I was just so so. Bleu was doing well but I'd find myself getting frustrated or angry with her. I kept thinking, "this is not that difficult, what is the problem?" Monday it boiled over. I second-guessed my decision to keep Bleu and I just kept wondering if this whole idea wasn't a big mistake.
Towards the end of the riding session things calmed down a little. Tuesday morning I used my private session to talk things over with Carol. Carol gave me some good perspective and I realized my feelings of doubt and confusion were perfectly natural. So I spent Tuesday being more present to Bleu and we had an awesome day.
In truth, all of camp was wonderful. Bleu tried her heart out, despite the garbage I kept offering her. Carol told me, on several occasions, that she was a good horse. She was so right.
I cannot remember everything we did. I know it pushed my envelope on several levels. I'm proud that I tried more things that I normally would have - especially considering that I've done little with Bleu since the early days of our relationship.
We did a lot of carrot stick riding. I had never ridden Bleu with a stick and was pretty pleased with how she responded. We stayed in the hackamore and didn't go above the trot but we tried just about everything the rest of the class did.
Here's what I'm taking from camp this year:
- Before you can really engage the HQ, you need to own them through disengagement. Without this, you're creating a more powerful runaway.
- Snappy is not about moving fast - it's an attitude, it's the "yes, ma'am."
- Commotion doesn't always produce motion; focus and clear intent have more to do with producing what you want than flapping ropes and sticks.
- It's time to get down to feel - technique only gets you so far.
- If you're having issues with the Figure 8, try it without markers - get your drive and draw flowing.
- Planting the seeds of L4 early give you an idea of where you might be going.
- If your leg = forward, spend time getting your yields isolated.
- Build in relaxation by addressing brace the moment you notice it.