Time: 1 hr
Horse: John Wayne!
Ride: Was definitely itching to ride again, and he had an opening for me on Monday so I jumped at the chance!
Got to the barn and was told I could ride John Wayne again, yipeee - he has the cutest face, i'll have to snap a photo one of these days. He's also a bit of a personality - very mouthy, haha, as I was taking off his halter I had to wrestle it out of his mouth, and, it turns out, he is a bit of a pest and not too fond of other horses around him - nor were the other horses fond of him. Silly boy.
We warmed up as Coach worked a couple horses on the flag. The more lessons I get the more I can see the subtleties that go into flag work. Back in the day when I watched people work horses on the flag I couldn't really "tell" what they were doing, now I can see the bumps through turns, the back-ups, etc. Plus, Coach was riding a roan that was in for re-training, so I could really see the issues there and watch what he did to correct and try to teach the horse how to be less bracey, and to stop better. He also talked me through some of what he was doing. The horses main problem was that, when heading left up the wall, when the flag stopped he immediately tried to shoot outwards/forward - away from the flag, Coach would completely lose his left shoulder, and the horse would lose the "arc" in his body you want when your working a flag. Coach said this was because whoever had originally trained him, most likely would pull his head sharply around through turns, teaching him to brace, and run away on the stops.
He rode the horse twice on the flag, the first time the horse was exceptionally bracey and was pretty.. well... rude. haha I thought to myself, "Coach sure has a good seat". By the time the flag work was over the horse was drenched in sweat, and making the arena a foggy mess... he had only been worked on the flag for 10 minutes tops. Coach let his assistant walk him out and calm him down, she rode in just a halter, and even got off and walked him a lot until he dried - this took about a half an hour, to 45 minutes. Then Coach rode him on the flag again, he was much calmer this time, you could tell they were just working together better. The horse started to really stop and listen to what Coach was asking on a nice loose rein, it was pretty cool to see them both come together, when an hour and a half ago I had witnessed a horse definitely seeing Coach as an adversary, not a partner.
Anyways, more about "me" :)
Warm-up was good, I feel like i'm getting closer to really achieving that more relaxed position that Coach is looking for, I still need to remind myself to meld more in the saddle, and sitting such an extended trot is still a bit on the trickier side for me, but i'm figuring it out. My body doesn't hurt half as much as it has after the last two lessons so that must be a sign i'm loosening up and relaxing!
We did dry-work before flag work, working on nice stops, Coach really got me thinking about my stop. Sometimes it's hard to do nice, slow, collected stops because the horses work SO WELL off your body that the second I "sit down", I don't have a second to think before J.W. is already parking it in the dirt. We worked on backing, stopping and roll backs some more - the constant reminder was: relax. be more relaxed. relax. Thankfully, Coach is one of those guys that actually inspires relaxation. I've had trainers in the past scream "RELAX" at you and it's like, "oh, okay, let me just freak the f- out while I 'relax'"
Our flag work wasn't as harmonious and pretty as last time but that's okay because that means I get to learn how to work better, and it gets to last a bit longer :) Coach talked to me about where the flag should be, and when I should be asking J.W. to back and when he's in the right position. A couple times Coach had me bump J.W. with both my legs to help him "snap" better through the turn. Sometimes I found that J.W. was really rushing as the flag went one way. Coach said that although sometimes speed is important he would rather have his horses long trotting back and forth and not "rushing" the flag, because, when translated into actual live-cow work that can cause the cow to try to rush off and this isn't cow horse people! haha.
I had to remind myself to relax quite a few times - as did he, it's easy to get pretty amped up doing this stuff. All in all really good lesson, once again Coach told me I was doing a really good job, and I was beaming ear to ear.
For Next Time: More work on that position, reeeeeeelax, and figure out when to let the horse do his job, and when to intervene (i.e. bumping through turns, backing, slowing them down, etc.)