Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. ~ Thomas Merton

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Stepping It Up

True to my promise, I continue to ride Cricket with a Carrot Stick.  I'm even forcing myself to hold the stick while mounting.  No sideways to the fence to pick up the stick - every ride starts and ends with a stick in my hand.

We started yesterday with a little bit of liberty.  Cricket was offering to jump so I asked her to draw to me over two jumps and she easily did.

I asked her for a turn on the HQ with me standing still and she offered a lot of resistance to the stick and string pushing her Z1.  I played some extreme FG with the stick/string going over her head.  Kept it up until she could lick and chew.  I asked her for the spin again and finished with the same FG until she could relax.  A few repetitions and she had a better spin and quicker relaxation afterward.  This is something I need to keep in mind as I ask her for more - I need to give her LB time to think, process and relax.

I saddled her up and we worked some more on FTR and Corners Game.  I'm trying to work the patterns and find a moment where she offers obedience and quit on that note.  So far it seems to be working as each ride gets better.

The only time she offered to bite the stick was right after mounting when I asked for lateral flexion.  And it wasn't aggressive but rather more playful.  I just rubbed her mouth and asked for the flexion.

Being in a saddle I was more willing to go to a firmer phase 4.  This is what we both needed.  I need to be able to touch her and insist that she respond.  She needs to know that I say what I mean and I mean what I say.

At one point she pulled out pretty far instead of going to the corner.  I didn't fuss but opted to put her in the corner before allowing total rest.  She resisted the stick and I ended up touching her on Z1.  She spun out a little and I just continued to ask her to move to the corner.  When I got her lined up, I allowed her to dwell and play with the barrel and cones that were there.

The next time around, I put my focus on the corner and with just a tiny bit of support from the stick, Cricket went right for it.  I jumped off and called it a win.

I don't know if I've ever been this forceful with her under saddle.  I never got mean or mad but I just said, "this is what we're doing, get on board."  And lo and behold, she did.

I finally feel like I'm ready to move my riding to the next level.  To start holding Cricket more accountable and being the leader she needs.  She's going to be a bit grumpy about this at first but I know, once we get through the initial transition, she'll be happier and more relaxed under saddle.

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