Even with the lightning show last night, brisk wind and a fall from 90 degrees to 50, as well as entering her heat cycle – we still got a lot done today! woohoo! This is the type of day I definitely would not have ridden due to all the factors involved, but with Rugby Player I can just go ahead and get her worked.
In these short few days I’m already feeling better and motivated about Z. It’s good to work with someone because it keeps me to a schedule instead of being distracted away with errands and other projects.
I did spend a bit more time free lunging her at canter. I wanted her to work out any hijinks before we rode but all she gave were two half hearted bucks that didn’t amount to much and settled far more quickly then I was expecting.
Under saddle, I started him with some bending exercises at walk which helped her I think get her focus back on what he was doing. At trot she gave a few great, relaxed transitions and then went to a “eeeehhh” pissy mode. I figured it might have something to do with how RP was asking her so I put her on the lunge (RP still in the saddle) and returned to taking trot on a voice command.
When she went smoothly and relaxed that way, I asked him to give the trot command with his heel at the same time I said “trot” but instead of a heel that stayed on her for one minute, to give her more of a floppy (but controlled) kick that was quickly on and as quickly off. Next time he gave her only his aid (about a 3 on a scale of 1-10 on kicking just to clarify) and that seemed to do the trick and we ended on a good note.
One reason for RP’s role in this whole training Z scenario is exactly what happened today. She got pissy being asked to go into a relaxed trot and started looking tight, head up and her back hunching (hmmm buckeroo anyone??) but I could change the work (using the lunge), transitioning her from something she already knew to something new, while still having a rider on her.
In this way we can return to something she already knows and is comfortable with: take the trot with a voice cue and do it in a relaxed manner; then add in the new cue (floopy heel kick, on and off quickly but emphatically) and she can transition that learning over to the new training she isn’t quite comfortable yet with.
Like I told RP, she’s my little project and I don’t have to be on anyone’s deadlline but my own.