One of the things I’ve been mulling over is Hempflings idea that different personality types determine how they should be worked. When I first read this book I was like WTF? because I was so impressed with Dancing and this book wasn’t quite what I expected. However, the concept became clearer to me as I worked Beautiful Boy – and now with T-mans’ work. I’m still looking through a muddy lense, but the picture is getting sharper.
Quite two different horses in their personalities and this is how it effects their work:
Beautiful Boy, an Arab and the Prince / Dove Personality, was extremely nimble and talented. He was very keyed in (perhaps too much so) to your body language. Lower your pelvis and he would stop on a dime. He would dance into a shoulder in with the lightest of touches on his hip. He needed reassurance, support, calmness and a very light touch by someone in control of their own body. Congruently, he needed boundaries and, as it was he was easily frightened.
Here is a video by Klaus Hempfling about the Dove:
It was easy to get him to work in trot, hard for canter. Midway into our workouts, we would take a break and he could go roll in the arena w/o equipment (this was during groundwork). He’d come back re-energized to play.
T-man, a TB wants to gallop – hard and fast and do it right now. There’s a huge instinctual drive in him to move and move fast. I’ve found it more helpful to let him have his gallop loose in the arena or like today – let him break into a canter on the lunge and let him get it out of his system before we start concentrating on the details.
He’s not detail-oriented and he can be bull-headed about what he thinks we should be doing (after all he was ridden for years and often by amateurs and lesson students). It’s not that subtleties are impossible with him but they do take a while to sink in.
I haven’t quite pinned down his personality…
Today my plan was to give him exercise and to try out my Lunge Cavesson which I bought a month ago. I’ve always lunged in bridle (w/ or w/o side reins) or halter (for Dear One). Because we were working in the indoor I had no plans on riding. Several times he has bolted in the indoor and does not feel comfortable in this space (me neither on him!) for under saddle work.
We started with some walk and as we entered trot, after a circle or two he broke to a heavy on the forehand canter. I let that happen to give him some time to re-group his body. Within a few circles, his canter was more balanced and I clicked and treated (Clicker Training).
Observing him today, working with the Lunge Cavesson and keeping in mind the work I’m going to be doing from Straightening the Crooked Horse, I saw that he points his nose out of the circle when traveling counter clockwise. This gives him a counterbend against the circle. Clockwise he is much better.
I also noticed that he took the canter on both sides easily with none of his kicking/striking out that he has habitually done when sore.
Goal: Help Big Guy with his Canter Transition
T-man does not like to do head down while trotting or cantering. I’ve been able to get him to do it with a target with Clicker Training but no luck catching him on the lunge. So today as soon as he dropped to sniff some poop, I gave him a CT. This will take some time for him to understand as he trots with a stiff neck pushing forward with an outstretched nose that translates to on the forehand saddle work that is pulling and out of balance.
Goal: Reward head down during Lunge work by setting up a reason for him to stretch down (i.e. maybe a pole?)
Overall a good session about getting back to work and he acted like all the crap he’s been doing never happened…