Friday, June 17, 2011

Brief recap of Thursday

I've been running around and didn't have time to post my blog about it. I scheduled a last minute lesson with Emma Wednesday night.

Bob was there too, and he watched her without the fork. And of course he told me what I already know, she avoids contact like nobody's business. But he also said that she tucks herself too much when she DOES respond to the bit. Too high, too crunched. He said even carrying herself in a dressage-y form isn't going to be good with her specific conformation. He said it's not that she has bad conformation, he said it's just that she's simply built like a QH and she has a stocky, short neck and she needs to carry herself low and deep. Not like, nose dragging in the dirt. He said he doesn't think she needs to be ridden to make her carry herself like a sport pony or a warmblood. Well, that's me as a rider. What was I riding for 2 years? A WB and a sport pony. Lol.

I get what he is saying. She really *is* built in a way that even a normal head carriage crunches her back because her neck is set up high. Only when she reallllly stretches down does she start to really push in the hind and carry herself.

I let out the training fork, I should note.

Well, we put that on and Bob got on her to demonstrate what he wants me to be doing. I felt bad - she was all over the place, no consistency at all. No doubt due to her time off. But Bob understood that I'm sure.

So here's what he told me: When she raises her head above the withers, I have to respond instantly by "popping" her in the mouth. I was obviously skeptical. Now when I say popping, he wasn't snatching on her. And he wasn't really see-sawing the bit either. Just a quick and to the point alternating give-release, and soon as the head goes down, pressure is off. Whenever I "pop", obviously, push push push with my seat. He also said that I need to ride with a lot less contact. At least for a while. I've been trained to never let my reins have "slack", so I always keep my consistent 1/2 pound of pressure in my hands. What he said was basically Amber doesn't want that, and it's not going to do us any favors right now either. This is a very, very different and new method of doing things for me. Obviously having trained under Patricia, I'm a little unsure of training a horse self-carriage like this.

My skepticism lessened when I actually *saw* him use it and have it work. She was actually tracking up, and occasionally *over tracking*. Her back was round, and while her head did pop up sometimes, she started to keep it down longer and longer the more he worked with her. By the end of the lesson, we took the fork off, and she responded to the same method without it, even if not quite as well.

1 comment:

  1. Learning to use your hand correctly in that method is tricky. Think of keeping a very light contact with the bit at all times--not a slack rein. If you do let the rein go slack you will be hitting her mouth and that's not what you want. I'm not too keen on the term "popping," as it does sound like a bit of a jerk on the rein.

    So think of less than half a pound in your hand, just a nice "conversation" with her mouth...always there but just a feel. When she tries to throw her head up, you need to give that quick correction...BUT...ride from contact into contact. And give as soon as she drops her head.

    There is a John Lyons technique where you do give the rein completely, but that will not get her to engage her back end into the bit.

    The hard part of all of this is learning to be quick enough both in your taking of the rein and your giving. You need to catch her just before she goes up and soften again just as soon as she gives in.

    There is a method of stroking the reins...kind of raking your hands along the reins that works too and at the walk you might try it to encourage your girl to stretch down and out into the bit through her back. Start in contact, and in a sliding massage, comb your hands through the reins. What you want Amber to start to do is trust your hands to let her take the rein and bit down as she stretches her neck and topline.

    Hope some of these ideas help.