Benny lively as usual online – left twice and careered round the school, then stopped and looked at me. Eventually he stayed with me. Tacked him up and did some more online work and then put the Light Rider bridle over halter and walked him round. Tested flexion, did rope around the quarters them got on. We just walked using seat bones to alter pace and halt. Rode off the halter first then used the Light Rider. He was very good and listening. Turns, random circles and straight lines. Serpentines and some leg yielding, not a long session but a good one. Will have to do little and often and troth 10 minutes on each rein next time.
Well after my chiropractic session I am now supposedly straight. I didn’t ride straight away but my daughter got on him bareback in a halter. After mentioning how broad he was and how bouncy in trot she cantered him round the grass arena. He didn’t put a foot wrong. so the next day I thought I would have ago, we did some ground work and he was good apart from one episode of leaving. Then I tried him by the mounting block and he stood still while I climbed onboard. We did a little walk around and I felt a bit wobbly so then just did some lateral flexions and backups and got off. Getting off was not very elegant but he stood quietly for me. It is a little step but I will ride him again with a saddle and halter in the grass arena – I am away at the moment so it will be next week sometime.
I just read a blog about using the word should – I will banish this word and substitute could/can or would/will instead of should. Should indicates that I have to do something instead of wanting or be able to do something. It seems to be a pressure word hence the banishment.
Last week my daughter took him for a hack with a friend as nanny. Benny was very good with all the traffic and even came home without the other horse. My daughter is supremely confident and will come out with me a few times. It is so good to have such a support network – friends and relatives who have been through this unconfident phase with other horses. My daughter lost confidence after her 16.3 mare bucked and reared and injured her several times. This horse was re-started by the late James Roberts and can now be ridden bareback and bridleless – even on the beach.
Wednesday was spent with the horses – apart from a good lunch with a friend. I rode Benny in the morning whilst my friend watched, he was as good as gold. Didn’t have to do much ground work – just the usual sequence of:-
Let him catch me
Halter with a hug
Touch him all over – whilst grooming
Pick up and place feet – it is important to have control over the feet.
Get a good standstill
Saddle with savvy etc
I do use the rope around his hindquarters to test flexion before mounting, and always ask permission before mounting by testing his standstill and then just putting one butt cheek in the saddle before placing myself in the saddle. I have looked at videos of me in the past mounting and I seem to have done this for some time even before I got involved with NH.
The afternoon Benny had a session with Pat Carlton a chiropractic practitioner. He was out at the poll and a little sore in his nearside wither area, so we saddled to check it was OK. The saddle didn’t seem to pinch or bridge ( I am getting a western saddler out to check to make sure). Then I hopped on board to check out if my position was causing any problems. I know I am stiff on my left pelvic area and can’t always go with the movement – well it was this that was causing the saddle to tip to the right and put pressure on the left of Benny.
So I need to book a session for me with Pat and then Benny will feel much more comfortable.
This is why it is important to check yourself as well as the horse – Pat likes to check horse and rider – I wish more horsey back people would do the same.
Another interesting session with Benny, after last week when I was about to give up, I regrouped and tried again. Tracey Duncan came to help with a 45 foot line. This has the advantage of being long enough and firm enough for me to be able to keep Benny online without him being bothered about it. There was no tension on the line as he needed to move his feet again in the arena across from the field. He wasn’t quite as hyper as last time but still on adrenaline. He was allowed to do whatever he felt he needed to do at first, then once he was more settled and rejoined me we worked on a few figures of 8. The first 2 were fine but then he needed to move again and went off with me trying to keep in zone 5 whilst not pulling on the line, so he feels more like he is at liberty.
Gradually he reconnected and mirrored my walking, with lots of turns around the school. There were times when he needed to go around the arena but he did circle closer and closer keeping his ear on me. He managed to sidepass along the pole both away and towards me, he does like going sideways so that is a little reward. Lots of fuss and praise when he got it correct.
Then he left and I kept him in canter round the arena, he changed direction by himself with me just trying to keep a neutral contact with the line, he did some great lead changes – all I need now is to get him to do the same under saddle!
I am now very stiff and aching after all my running about!!
All I need now is to get Benny more connected so he can settle faster and be ridden safely.
Benny very lively today online. He didn’t really want to be with me as he kept looking to see what Mel was doing. We did some stick to me, backup and sideways at liberty before he decided to leave. Although he did come back to me when I looked to disengage his hind quarters. He got a bit animated in trot and came at me quite fast so quickly had to stop him and redirect on the other rein. Online he did hindquarter and forequarter yields and then was allowed to do his party trick of sideways! We then played with changes of direct round the barrels, some nice turns but I wasn’t interesting enough so he left! He enjoyed a good grooming session, lots of coat shedding. I hope we will get more connected as we do more positive reinforcement – lots of praise and scratches plus a treat occasionally. He played touch it with the barrels and the pedestal so I praised him for that, no micro-managing he did it all on his own.
Think he had a bit too much negative reinforcement last week and I will have to build up trust again. He didn’t want to play the catching game.
Good lesson with Sally Ede (a Ride With Your Mind coach) working on my core strength so I can sit to Benny’s forward trot. Once I used my core to stabilise my position Benny was able to use his core and lift his back and round more. Used my Light Rider bridle too and he was very responsive to a very light hand. Used my seat bones to guide his forehand on the turns, much better than the leg forward. He is much more responsive, after last week, to the leg aids for the hindquarter turns too. Lots to work on for my stability but it will then mean I can sit to his trot to initiate the canter transitions. The Light Rider noseband seems to be just what I needed, instead of the rope halter or his Parelli Cradle bridle. This was us last week on our experience week at James Roberts Foundation Station.
Day 5 at JRFS started with more online work, Benny not too thrilled with all this work and decided to leave twice. Rebecca helped me with some strategies to get him more connected. Direct and indirect rein changes on a circle were what worried him so we did some sideways along the rail until he relaxed. Used the stirrups to simulate the leg position for the hindquarter yields both at a standstill and whilst walking. Much better then when I rode him. We got some decent hindquarter yields and turns. Finished the session with a canter, I had difficulty sitting the trot so Rebecca reminded me to use my core to stabilise and got me to use one hand on the saddle horn and the outside hand back on his rump so I was sitting up. Rebecca stood in the corner to encourage him forward and we cantered the longside of the school. We both need to get fitter to maintain this, both physically and emotionally. a really enjoyable week with lots to think about and lots to play with.
April 25th – day 4 started with a session learning the basics of liberty work. We started with walking round the pen with the horse next to us, Benny ran off as soon as we got in the pen so it turned into a circling game. Once he had calmed down I disengaged the hind quarters with a look and he turned in. The first time he didn’t come back to me but I rewarded the try. He soon got the hang of it and stayed with me and stopped when I stopped. He trotted from my energy and walked when I slowed down. Only did a short session as this new to us both.
Then off for a trail ride round the farm fields, as I haven’t cantered Benny in the school for more than half a circle I wasn’t confident to let him canter on the farm track he did feel like he wanted to go but was very polite and stayed in trot. Once in the field we did a little shoulder in and haunches in round the edge – then a little show. I stayed in walk and trot whilst the more advanced did a proper showing show.
On the way home 2 people wanted the canter on the long track and 2 didn’t – so the 2 that didn’t (I was one of them) trotted up the track ahead of them and waited by the gate at the top. Benny had a very forward trot but I felt in control. He got a bit joggy on the last bit of the ride home and my confidence level went above a 5 so I wanted to stop and get off but Vicky talked me through it and we stopped and flexed and relaxed and then walked on a looser rein. Benny was very good on the roads, with tractors, dogs and sheep in the fields. We had a nice softness as we entered the yard.
Benny then had his back checked and I learned he is a little tight in the left side of the saddle area. nothing a few carrot stretches and a saddle check can’t sort out. Also he is a little stiff in his hocks probably due to arthritis, so I will give him some sort of supplement for this once we get home, and exercise him more to keep him supple.
Day 3 at JRFS – more flexion today this time leg yielding on a circle with Rebecca, got a better circle and change of rein online. Benny getting better at the forequarter and hind quarter yields ridden. Then after the 10 minutes trotting on both reins. to find rhythm and relaxation. we did leg yielding on a circle. Then it was time to try a canter, got a few strides on the right rein with a few half circles but couldn’t maintain gait for a whole circuit of the school. The left rein was worse with both of us struggling on our stiffer side, just managed a few strides. In the afternoon we joined the other students for a lesson with Vicky. Again working on flexion and impulsion. A more forward walk and trot and sideways out of a circle. Then on to counter bends on a circle to improve suppleness and softness. We then did some shoulder in and haunches in – Vicky was quite impressed that Benny could do them – and so was I. The back to finding more rhythm and elevation in the trot by using poles and then raised poles. Benny managed very well and only kicked the poles once.