The oppressive heat impacted our session. Heat index was 104. I took multiple breaks the 4 hrs I was at the barn, and offered Sonny water each time. We played mainly with 4 feet on pedestal, change of direction at trot, undemanding time, bounce ball on horse, pick up soft canter on cue/circle,,,oh, and sideways facing the trailer-side and back. I had planned on more, but had to adjust because of the temp. and humidity.
4 feet on pedestal: Sonny has this nailed, even on the taller, smaller pedestal. A foot slipped and he came off/fell off rather clumsily, but readily tried again when I asked him, after getting his footing back. Good boy!
Change of direction at trot: Getting it, but it's still pretty ugly at times. Still noticeably better going right. Betweeen last session and this one, I gave it some thought and decided that the keys to success which must be missing are knowledge,technique, and support. Inadvertently, I ran accross a video in the SC vault that was helpful. I was browsing the liberty self assessment video and watching Pat do change of direction at liberty, made me lick and chew. He turned against the horse's direction in a crouched position for about a quarter of a circle then ran backwards, still crouched. Watching it, I could almost feel the draw from his bent inward belly button to the horse. I'd never seen that particular technique before. ahhhh, new twist on technique, new knowledge, support received. So, with what I had already thought to do, and this new approach, I was getting better success. Sonny is still bracy and somewhat oppositional, but I was getting a change of direction most of the time. He did argue about it a few times, and he did ignore all cues(opposition?) and just keep going a few times, but by the end of the session, I believe he was clearly getting it. Maybe playing more intentionally with the draw in some yo-yo's will help ,too,,although I thought/think my draw at yo-yo is good, quite good, actually....hmmmm
undemanding time: this is probably way over due, esp since he has not been coming to me or letting me approach him in the pasture. Today, he stopped and winny'ed at me on the first whistle, then turned and trotted away to the far pasture. I went back to the barn and retried after 20-30 mins. He turned away and trotted off when I tried to approach. Retreat to the barn for another 20 mins, went to the far pasture ignoring him, and found a big rock to sit on. Tried to outlast him, hoping he would get curious and come to that side of the field. He didn't. Neither did any of them. But, he did let me approach , and accepted a cookie and the halter. In the indoor area with the undemanding time, he did come to me , after a bit, and nuzzed around , prob mostly looking for treats, but he hung by me for a bit, then left,,and came back another time.
Bounce ball off horse: While at liberty, before rehaltering after the undemanding time, on a whim I started bouncing the ball and for the first time, I was able to bounce it high enough without him stepping away to try bouncing the ball ON him. He was slightly skepical, but allowed in on both sides, even rolling it completely over his back and off the other side. Adding this to the 7 session list. yay!
Pick up soft canter:continues to improve, especially to the right (no surprise here), not only picked up a soft canter with a soft/medium expression, but went 3 complete laps , then I asked him to transition down to trot, he did that within 2-3 strides. very nice. To the left, he picked up a not so soft, but not snotty-bronco horse style- canter, but wouldnt maintain direction beyond a quarter of a circle unless I caught him just before he did a quick change of direction on his on, and drove/asked him to continue. Most of the time he was faster than me. I don't think I ever got a complete lap to the left. Next time, maybe I'll continue to drive beyond the first quarter of the circle before I go into neutral and see what happens.
Trailer: surprise opportunity to work on L2 online trailer pattern of sideways. The small trailer was gone out, so there was room enough on one side of the bigger trailer to sideways down the side (facing the trailer), accross the back, then back again all the way up the side. There wasn't room to go up the other side like the pattern actually requires, though. Sonny did so good, only hesitated a bit when he had to make the corner each way, and since we've never done any sideways with that kind of maneuver, I was very pleased at how well we did overall. In spite of the far side being unavailable, I'm chalking that one up as session 1 on the L2 trailer pattern!! yay! cause I know we've done the back of trailer squeeze many times. Wonder when I'll get that opportunity again??
I was a little bit dissappointed that I didn't get to work my entire plan for the session, but by 9pm I was very tired, and there wasnt a dry stitch on me anywhere. Sonny seemed to fare better than me. He never worked up a lather even with a lot of trotting and some canter. He was dark with sweat in areas, but not lathered. I did do a whole lot indoors-covered, and didn't go to the roundpen untill the sun was very low in the sky--not so brutal. Of interest, I'm noticing how well his back, just in front of the croup is muscling up,,he has a much better topline than he had 6 months ago when I did the hill therapy with him. He got some better immediately, but most of the improvement has been over time, and I can't help but think it's to do with the fact that we are playing more consistently with the higher gaits since my course in April, and he is relearning how to use his muscles more effectively. I can't tell if his head is nodding down at the trot yet, it definately used to nod upwards,,,,need someone else to play with him so that I can watch him all the way around the circle with him relaxed and not feeling driven.
Knowledge, technique, and support are availalbe somewhere!! just look, ask...
I've written to a PP to schedule a semi-private lesson in freestyle !!