As we chatted, I was standing inside the pasture letting Misty lick the honey off my plate. When the plate was clean, we migrated out of the pasture and continued chatting in front of Blu. I was super wishy-washy about what exactly I wanted to do. The plan was to ride freestyle, but I didn't know whether to do it in the round pen or in my homemade 50' X 100' arena. The entire time I was standing there deliberating, Blu was standing at the fence intently watching me. When I went in, we continued to chat. We moved onto his back issues. I am going to someday (God knows when) have a chiropractor out to feel Blu. I am quite convinced that this "problem" mounting is pain-related. But once I am on, he doesn't care--he doesn't buck or fuss unless I sit on his butt or lean forward.
I finally decided to decide on the way to the fence. Depending on how things went on the way there, I would either pick the round pen or the North Pasture. I began to lead him (at liberty) and drifted to zone 5. He was so good, I knew that we would be fine in the North Pasture.
Once on the other side, Blu walked off to Meggie while I shut the gate. I ended up doing a little of this and that with Blu and Misty. Everyone had a bite of the stem that I had been using as a light stick . . . so it is no more. Blu was especially mouthy today, so I played with his mouth. I took a long while showing Meggie how he is for mounting. She said it was fine for us to continue and I could stop anytime. Misty was a big help when I was actually mounting from the pedestal: she was standing on the pedestal, and when Blu swung his head toward me, she would block him. Hehehe. Now, don't get me wrong, this response of his is very important to me. I try to mount from somewhere high and I always strive for soft settling. But at any rate, I am doing my best in the moment.
Once I was on, we went through the basic check off list of lateral flexion, forequarter yields, and hindquarter yields. His lateral flexion is amazing. I just have to bend my body and look at my knee and he bends. I told Meggie about how Blu is super for bridling from his back and how I taught him in increments. That led to a discussion about how I am a big starter :D . . . ahem.
Next was direct rein, or forequart yields. He was a bit "groggy," but after some fiddling around, we reached common ground and he realized what was being asked. Here, Meggie asked how fast he could go and I had her spin until she was illustrating how fast Blu could go so far in our progress. It's about medium speed. (LESSON: back up first so the weight is already on the haunches)
Finally, our indirect rein went really well--much better than I remember them being and what I thought he would deliver. (LESSON: when you have two carrot sticks, it's much easier to use the inside hand on the rump and the outside hand on the forequarter. LESSON: use effective blocks).
Now that Meggie had seen those guys, we headed to the arena, Connor and Misty in tow (rolling my eyes!!). Blu and I began to follow the rail. Here are our lessons from the session (note, a lot of these things I "know" but do not do well enough, was doing well and should keep doing, or just need to reinforce/refine. It shows how important it is to "do what you know" and to always be improving, of course):
- Keep tabs on those shoulders! If the shoulders are somewhere they shouldn't be, I can give them a tap to put them in their place.
- Good job acknowledging a "spooky" spot and giving allowance. Remember to keep tabs on his growing confidence and to ask for more once he can give more (this in regards to a corner he was spooking away from because of a shed in that direction. As that corner became less spooky, I asked him go deeper into it)
- Count how many times I use the stick in one lap. (tonight, we got 3 or 4 as the record)
- When I do use the carrot stick, it must be used effectively
- Don't put two carrot sticks down by the face unless it is to stop. (I have a tendency to put two down automatically when guiding him, so I need to remember to do one side at a time and return to neutral)
- BFO! To back up, vibrate the carrot sticks UP AND DOWN--that's how I back up with the lines when I am driving! Duh!
- Yes, transitions for more hind quarter engagement
- Relax the upper leg--find neutral
- Swishing Tail is don't want to, so just know it and keep tabs on how much swishing is happening. Try and be quieter and ask for less or make things more interesting.
- NICE STOPS! Thumbs up :D
- Look above the horizon for a canter transition
- Don't lean back to back up--just the belly button
Hmm, good day. Savor the good day. I am going to dissect this good feeling and find out what is at the base of it--that way, I can duplicate it and use it when I feel not so good. . . for now, I bask in good feelings.
Natural Horsewoman Out.