So, I decided to attempt what I semi-jokingly called "an Intensive" (as in, what yogis do, when they do sit-ins and meditate for days upon days with no words, and just try to find their inner focus) with Jingle. I wanted to find his stop, I wanted to slow him down, and I wanted to just generally slow us down... two full weeks later, and we've gotten somewhere, but we gotta start at the beginning...
Monday (the 25th) - Ride from Hell
Read all about that... Here.
Tuesday - Wither stop introduction
I had read on the Mugwump Chronicles about the Monte Foreman Wither Stop, Mugs claimed that she could get the most unstoppable horse to stop using this technique. Pretty much with my hands in the air, and my eyes on the ground, I grumbled "fuck, might as well try this." I'd link to what she actually said, but i've long ago lost it - however in 2009... i think.. she did a series on stopping.
The jist of the stop is that, at a posting trot, as you rise out of the saddle, push down on your horses withers, and then pull them down into a stop. No woah. nothing but push, sit, pull back. Continue this until the horse learns that the "push" is a cue to stop. Once the horse has this down pat, you can add the woah. Go from there, same concept at lope, but push as the horses lead leg comes forward, "woah" as it hits the ground.
It seemed stupidly simple when I first read it - no, no, no my horse has "issues" with stopping, this wont work - well, I can't for the life of me remember who, but someone once told me... when it comes to horses, keep.it.simple... stupid.
So, Jingle and I started attempting the wither stop, and by golly - it worked. It's actually a pretty wonderful concept... you "push" on their withers which is a physical cue that something is coming, it also forces the rider to place their hands on their horses neck... which means my reins are nice and loose. Then, when the horse doesn't listen to this physical cue, they are immediately shut down into a stop. Soon, Jingle was listening and attentive, the second he felt my hands come onto his neck, he was shutting down into a nice stop.
Now - it still, by far, wasn't perfect, I was having issues getting my hands on his neck at a rise from a posting trot and not throwing myself off balance and totally forward onto his neck. I was also starting to push to quick, and ask for the stop too quick, I needed to constantly remind myself to slow down the process. Slow down my posting, push deep until he notices, say woah nice and slow, and then shut him down. But, it was working.
Wednesday - Day Off
Thursday - More Wither Stop & Jingle plays with his Big Buddy
Thursday was a continuance of the wither stop technique, as well as I added a lot more backing, turn on the forehand, roll backs, turn-arounds, etc. All of this at the walk/trot or jog.
Jingle rarely got pissing, but his roll-backs certainly need some work. However, his turn on the forehand is really nice, and he's really starting to understand how to pivot.
Here is a video of Jingle & Jager playing :) We joke that Jingle is the pony-horse to Jager's racehorse due to their size difference. Sorry about the video quality... guess i'm not the best videographer.. but it sure it cute how they run around and play together.
Friday - Outdoor Arena
I had my cutting lesson and headed out to see my boy with the thoughts of fluidity and relaxed riding in my mind.
Friday was absolutely beautiful so we rode outside in the outdoor arena. How could I pass that up? It was a pretty chill ride since the slush had some ice lurking underneath it. We worked on jogging a bit, a couple stops, and then I just had him turn and do figure 8's around barrels and poles that were set up. We did a lot of stopping, backing up, backing at an arc, turning, shoulder-in, etc at the walk.
You know what's nice about slush? You can see perfectly where your horses tracks are. WAY better than thousand dollar, perfectly harrowed, top of the line arena dirt. ;)
Outside in March - aint no big deal!
Taking pictures with the wildie
Pretty cute face, if you ask me
All braided up, and ready for bed!
Saturday was a plod along kind of day, I probably should have ramped up the work-out a little bit, but we mostly meandered and practiced "standing still". My legs and arms were on fyaaaaah from my cutting lesson - ouchie ouchie oweeee. Jingle loves to leak out of his stops, and loves to jig around when asked to stand - so after every stop, I asked him to stand and we just hung out on a loose rein. At one point another girl that was riding in her horse in the arena stopped and asked me "is everything okay?", I gave her my "one-eyebrow raised" look, doesn't she know we're in a slow-work intensive?!
I loped him on his right lead, he picked it up but was a speedy gonzalaz, back to slow-stuff.
Brigitte & Mac showed up!
I had planned to ride Sunday, but between 5 am - 9 am Calgary experienced around 15 cm of snow and blowing winds - we were advised to stay indoors, it was nasty out, and I decided to not make the trek to see my horse. Instead I worked, and then passed out in my street clothes from 6 pm - 10 am... guess I was tired.
The Intensive will continue into the next post!
The Intensive will continue into the next post!