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

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What I Learned Yesterday

We must expect reverses, even defeats. They are sent to teach us wisdom and prudence, to call forth greater energies, and to prevent our falling into greater disasters. ~ Robert E. Lee
I'll start out by saying I had a good ride on Cricket yesterday.  We had a short liberty warm-up and then onto saddling.

I've been saddling her at liberty.  This is one of my tasks on my Parelli Connect page.  The only problem with this scenario is that Cricket is such a pest that she has to keep turning her head to ask for a cookie or to see what I'm doing.  Oh well, at least she's involved in the process.

Our carrot stick riding is getting so much better.  We started with one stick and did some FTR and Corners Game at the walk and trot.  I'm feeling pretty confident with one stick and the trot.

I wanted to revisit our canter - something we haven't done in awhile.  I opted to put the stick down to set myself up for more success.  Cricket was a little snotty about it but basically obedient.  I rode her right lead freestyle but picked up the reins for the left lead.  I wanted to be able to help her with her bend.  She did really well - the best left lead we've had in ages.

I picked up one stick and we did a little sideways with a bridge rein and then I picked up a second stick.  We did some more FTR and Corners at the walk and trot.  We stood on the bridges (building up the nerve for the pedestal).  I asked her to step over a low jump and with one stick asked her for sideways off the pole.  She obliged and I opted to end the ride.

I spent last night reflecting on what worked and what didn't and here are my BFOs from our session:
  • Cricket only started biting the stick with some dominance/aggression when I got nervous about trotting with two sticks.  Previously she only mouthed the stick out of playfulness, the same as she does on the ground.  How very interesting.
  • With sticks, leg suddenly always equals forward.  We've been working on "no rein" isolations of the FQ and HQ and she's pretty good.  But not with sticks.  I think this exposes a hole in our foundation.  I don't know how consistent I am with my leg as a cue for forward and so it's kind of confusing.  I cannot say I micro-manage her with the reins because we can do it with arms crossed and no forward.  What makes it different with the sticks?
My goal for our next ride is to do some two stick isolations and get better forehand and hind-quarter yields.  And to start working on consistency of my leg cues.


Mary Hunter said...

The only problem with this scenario is that Cricket is such a pest that she has to keep turning her head to ask for a cookie or to see what I'm doing. Oh well, at least she's involved in the process

LOL. I've had a few in the past that were like this.

One thing I've found helpful if they get a bit too pushy/pesky---
wait for the horse to straighten out their neck, put their head down or turn their head away from you.
then, walk out in front of the horse and give the cookie there.
after a bit of this, they usually get the idea that they're getting cookies for keeping their head away from you.
I don't mind the horses turning their head into my space and "helping out," but for somethings like saddling it can get bothersome if they're in the space I need to be in to work.

Sounds like your ride yesterday went well!


Lisa said...

Mary - thanks for the pointer. I need to spend some time working specifically on this issue. She's really not too bad but it's hard to get everything lined up when she's twisted around looking for a cookie.

I very much want to get into CT with her but right now I need to finish my L3 to just get it done.

Tina said...

Sounds like it went really well! You're making such progress! I'm jealous that you have your FH and HQ yields isolated, they're one of the banes of my existence (yeah, I have lots of those!). I'd suggest doing the yields just as you usually do, but holding the sticks on your shoulders...not using them yet. If they're still good, then try it with a stick. Start really soft and slow and pay attention to what your body is doing that is asking her to move. Another idea - do the yields without the sticks but AS IF you have them and see what happens. Your weight must be changing and confusing her. Last thought: Do you HAVE to be able to do the yields with the sticks if you can already do them without? I can't see why...

Lisa said...

Tina - it was more that when I asked for the yield, while holding the sticks, Cricket went forward rather than yielding. I'm sure my body language was fuzzy because this is very much outside my comfort zone. I need to work on this outside the pattern and get it more clear for her.

Some things I've learned from Carol camps that help with getting the yield isolation:

* Lateral flexion to HQ disengage and back to lateral flexion. Helps teach the horse that leg does not equal forward.

* Rather than using the rein to stop forward, use the stick to shape it and allow the horse to puzzle solve the leg cue. When the horse chooses to forgo forward for the yield it's much stronger reinforcement than if we constantly use the stick to shut down forward.

Cricket is generally reliable on the HQ yield and better than 50% on the forehand yield. No rein, no stick. As I'm figuring it out, the sticks are my problem, not hers.