Saturday, April 5, 2014
Played with Aspen OL today to warm up for our lesson. Worked on relaxation and using the whole 45' line for trot and canter circles as well as two awesome jumps over the upright barrels from zone 4/5 about 30' away. Cool! Then had my first lesson with Lillan. My issues were with impulsion and lack of focus/connection under saddle. She told me Aspen was basically making me micromanage her by refusing to stay connected and be a partner, her druthers/dominance would show up at different times and though I was soft and polite I wasn't getting the message through to Aspen that she should stay connected with me. I wasn't giving her a reason to really listen to me because my leadership was lacking and I wasn't making my requests into a game - something that would have meaning to her. My first exercise was to do a point to point from barrel to barrel using ONLY my legs to steer the hind end and my hand only if she broke gait into a trot (from the walk). It took a lot of patience and persistence on my part and I quickly realized my focus wasn't particular enough. I was eventually able to use my legs to steer Aspen to and from, around, or figure-8 the barrels. Next we did a kind of passenger game where I used straight lines and circles to control Aspen's impulsion, slowing her down by bending her ribs/eventual disengagement with my legs before rein. I can see how this helps Aspen build responsibility and partnership because I'm not micromanaging through the reins and instead am building true Freestyle control. After we did some trot/canter in soft touch with the same principles as above for bending her with my legs for control. And last we did a sideways point to point, giving Aspen to take the opportunity at phase 1 to go sideways and if she didn't, getting her set up with my reins/legs to take a sideways step or two - then mini-rest, then offer again until she took control of her own brakes and didn't leak forward. I realized that I've been stuck in the teaching/controlling phase rather than being progressive into the reinforcing/refining stage. I am going to be thinking about making more offers to her and then an alternative if she doesn't take it. Also approach and retreat with trot/canter transitions as they cause her to be emotional.