Monday, 12 April 2010

A Different Horse

Day 2, and that was one of the first things Perry said..."He's a different horse today". Thrilling to hear!

We went up first, partly to avoid the napping issue and partly so that Kate got a chance to unwind before her session as I had the previous day.

Before I got onboard Perry asked if I ever did any in-hand with him. I did, initially, and we got on quite well with it but it was off of the lunge cavesson and I was keen to learn off the bridle so we set to work. Perry said he usually, if not always, warms up a horse to ride with some in-hand work. So we'll aim for that!

First up was shoulder-out along the long side of the arena, around the first corner and then as we about-face, leg yield as much as we can to the opposite side. We started on the left rein, so shoulder-out to the right. As in ridden work, if asking for flexion and softness from a hand aid was ignored, I backed it up with a touch of the schooling whip, which was along his side. The inside rein was in my left hand which in turn sat where my right leg would be. A lot of co-ordinating! We did this on both reins. The shoulder-out was actually easier than the leg yield, whilst doing the latter I got my knitting in my knot a few times but we got there :)

Next was rein-back. Now, as an evasion this is Quadi's forte! Trying to extract a decent rein-back when asked for is much trickier. We placed him along the school side. I stood to his side, held a rein in each hand under his jaw and used a vibrant rein aid up and back. He really grew roots so I tried tapping his chest with the whip in a slow rhythm (initially I was too fast but was corrected) until he gave me a step. Likewise this was tricky so I tried both reins in one hand and whip on his quarters, and finally whip on chest. The latter combination worked best but this was very hard for me to do so lots of work required here!

I mounted up and gave him a relaxed walk around on a longer contact. Then we set to work. Once again we were on our circle and I went over what we did the previous day. Happily I didn't have to be reminded much, if at all, of any of the corrections made 24 hours earlier. This is where Perry said he was like a different horse! Soft and reacting to the slightest of aids, which were thoughtfully set up by me, much preferred to of the two of us braced against one another and fighting. A highlight of this work was maintaining this softness with bend, and even a little lift in the forehand as we moved off from walk to halt. Not much to most people but hugely rewarding baby steps for us.

We had a discussion about bend and Perry suggested that, since constant changing of bend as well as change of pace will all help supple Quadi, we employ shallow loops. Of course in this case in the school but we can also do them on hacks. But not just a shallow loop along the 40m side, lots and lots of them. Very shallow and constant. We set off on a right rein and immediately it became apparent that left bend was easier than right. I was asked what I could do next, so I changed the rein and worked the same shallow loops on a left rein. Really illuminating and a Very Useful Tool for me to employ.

And onto trot! Much improved on the day before. He tried at every point to motorbike on a 12m circle so it was tricky to keep him upright with my inside leg without tensing or shortening said leg.

Whilst I needed little reminding to retain the changes made the day before, I found some new foibles! Because I lack balance, I was hanging on with the reins which set Quadi against my hand, or vice versa! Two things were suggested. First, if Quadi hangs onto me, give one rein, just for a moment. It doesn't matter which although I should try and assess which would be better. I gave the outside rein for a moment, then re-asked for bend to the inside and his head yielded as I asked. Lovely :) Secondly, I was to really control the tempo with my backside and tummy. Then lots of transitions of trot-walk-trot on Perry's command, without hanging onto the reins. Easier said than done and it really dribbled on for several strides more than it ought to, but I did it off of my seat and inhaling to sit up. I had to work quickly to re-establish bend if I had lost it because in a few strides we were to be off at a trot again.

Quadi did try hard to zoom off with me and I was at the point where my left shoulder was aching. I may have muttered a different F-Word a few times under my breath, just at myself as it was achey and I didn't want to have to stop!

By this point both Quadi and I had peaked and we ended with some gorgeous trot strides in harmony, with my correcting little slip-ups without prompting.

We pulled in and Perry made sure I understood what sort of contact he wanted there to be between my horse and I. To demonstrate, he had us at a halt, my hands on the reins and he used my hands to show how one rein gives and one rein asks for bend. And we placed Quadi's head right, central, left and back to central on the most delicate of rein aids I've ever felt. Perry said any softer and Quadi would want to duck behind the bridle so now I know and have felt what we're aiming for. I feel a little more empowered that I can do this. I have spent the past 24 hours focussing on some negatives but now I feel that for our first ever lessons together, Quadrado and I did rather well indeed :D

I'm sure I've skimmed over a lot but I think by this point in the weekend my brain had reached maximum capacity!

I have some, but not all, of the photos and want make sure I've seen them all before I select my favourites so they'll have to wait another day. Tomorrow I also hope to post photos of The Latest Addition to the herd, due tomorrow teatime!


  1. Sounds like a great couple of days, looking forward to pics and the new arrival!!

  2. sounds like good work for both of you ...i hear good things about him.