Well, the last couple times I have worked Chewie this week have been flat workouts in lieu of lessons. Both rides were tremendous. I have a little trick now, when he starts to slack and ignores my leg, I reach for the crop I keep tucked in my boot. When he sees my hand go for the crop, he moves forward in response. I only had to tap with the crop maybe half a dozen times before he picked that one up. It’s proven to be most useful. Since I can get him to engage more easily, I can get him to round more easily. And with the help of the magic bit and the extra impulsion, the results have been spectacular. It’s been a real treat the last 2 rides to be on Chewie.
It is amazing how all the flat work is basically the same cross-discipline speaking. I mean, I am trying to work Chewie properly so he can eventually learn to be a made-broke fully trained hunter that can jump well and perform properly. But the training I am working on with him on the flat is absolutely no different than basic dressage training. Flex. Move forward. Round up. Yield laterally. Give in to aids. It’s all the same. Hunter work is 90% flat work anyway, and really, if you jump say 10 fences in a course, you are doing all flat work with 10 strides that are in the air. In between those jumps, flat work is crucial.
Chewie pays attention more readily over jumps, because he’s still learning how to jump, and whether it’s a cross rail or a 2’6″ rainbow oxer, he needs to have guidance from me to do it, and he looks to me to do it. He’s learned now to go to and over the jump, and he’s going straighter between the jumps, and he’s more confident, too. But now he is at the point where the flat work is really coming into more and more play. He needs to collect or lengthen and most importantly, he needs to BALANCE on the other side to handle lead changes or tight turns, like a roll back. If the flat work isn’t there, he would jump a line crookedly while weaving, land in a heap and get strung out and I would not be able to turn him, swap a lead, or get him to adjust for the next fence. Flat work, flat work, flat work. It’s so important and it is coming together so beautifully it’s incredible!!! I’m thrilled.
The other night I rode and several people in the arena all commented about how great he looks. He is going more forward and more round and soft, and I think the thing I love the most is how super soft I can be on the reins and how easily he will round on the bit and seek the contact. I don’t know if he is just getting better and stronger or understanding the concept of what I am trying to teach him more, or if the two of us have simply finally figured out how to work with each other. Whatever it is, the results are amazing, and I hope to get them on video soon.
In the mean time, I’ve been trying to spend a little more play time with Chewbacca instead of only going to see him to ride. I really do not want him to associate me with only riding and work. Hanging out time is important to me. I do it with Luke and Dixie, and I feel it makes a huge difference. I want my horses to like me.
So today I visited Chewie and went bearing treats and the camera instead of a saddle & bridle. I literally played with him.
I was trying to get him to run around the paddock by forcing him using a lead rope and waving it in the air and chasing him with it. That tactic was not working at all. So I dropped the lead rope on the ground and literally ran around the paddock with Chewie. I probably looked like an idiot running with my horse, but it got him playing tag with me. He was gracious enough not to kick me in the head, and I managed to get some nice pictures while running.
It was fun!!! I think Chewie had fun. He would run around and kick up and then come back to me and take off again.
Here he is looking at me like I’m nuts….
But, for curiosities sake, he’ll come check me out and see what the heck I’m up to and why I’m doing jumping jacks in the middle of his turnout.
And look, remember what I was saying about flat work???
I’ve apparently taught my horse how to half-pass without realizing it!! LOL!
And beyond that, he also seems to have learned to Spanish Walk and overflex at the same time.
Rollkur riders be damned… LOL. I can get my horse to overflex without even being on his back!!!
(And do tricks at the same time)
This is where I pretty much plunked myself down on the ground after running with my horse for 20 minutes. He came and stood tall by me, watching over me. I was totally freaking out the horses in the next paddock. They could not figure out why there was a person on the ground in the paddock next to them.
And Chewbacca was not the only one that benefited from today’s play day…….
The Fat Princess herself, in all her fat glory…..
(her anti-grazing muzzle should arrive in a few days)
It took some chasing, but I got a little sign of life out of Dixie…
And then, look into her eye…..
And of course, Mr. Illustrious Pookey Lukey Poney…
Nobody really wanted to run around today… Of course, it was about 11 degrees out so they all pretty much looked at me like I was nuts.
But there’ s nothing nicer than a good roll when you’re mum’s taken your winter blankey off…
I really love this shot of him shaking off…. It marks a great improvement in my photography skills since last winter.
And, I was obviously practicing eyes… I love Luke’s eye… don’t you? I’ve never gotten an eye image so crisp and bright and clear before. And I’ve never gotten an actual reflection in the eye, either. You can see me taking the picture (I was sitting down on my mounting step), and Luke’s own leg shadows. This is another major improvement in my photography.
See… just for comparison’s sake…
This was a shaking off picture of Luke I took in December of 2009 that I just thought was such a great picture.
Massive difference between this one and the one from today’s adventures. I’m glad to see an improvement in my photography. At least something I’m trying to learn is paying off.
And as far as eyes go…
This was an image I took on a horse I was practicing with. I thought this was a great eye image back when I took it, which was about 2-3 months after I got the camera and had begun learning. Worlds of difference between this eye and Luke’s eye from above. I’ve got some nice eye shots over the last 12 months or so, but the difference between this one and the one from today is extreme. I’m very happy 🙂 Especially since it’s not by luck… I actually know how to the camera so much better now that I can plan for the image I want and am beginning to understand how to use the daylight to influence that image. I’d really like to learn more.
Remember, you can have a visit to my photography blog at willowtreephotos.webs.com Feel free to stop by there!!
Have a great day!!!