Play Date June 2009

Tami-riding-PrinceWe had another lovely play date at Mystic Ranch yesterday.  It turned out to be a beautiful day.  

Mikayla gave a great liberty “stick to me” demo with her Casper at the walk, trot, canter, halt, back up, figure eights and weave the cones.  That horse was glued to her.  It was beautiful.  Ann showed us how she is teaching Marshall to do a spin on line.  I helped Marion do some two rein driving with Mystic, helping her get her aids in time with his feet so he went straight, turned and leg yielded as she wanted. 

Everyone did some playing in the trail course, going over the jumps, bridge, teeter totter and through the car wash.  Namaste had an issue with the bridge and we spent a good bit of time being passively persistent in the proper position and reminding her that running us over was NOT an option. 

Ann and I and a freestyle demo of the patterns in the arena and had some fun talking about teaching horses to do flying lead changes through the figure eight pattern.  It will be fun to see what progress gets made on that project before the next play date.  

The potluck lunch was delicious – as always.  Ann owes us the recipe for the pineapple pistachio salad and Karen owes us the recipe for the lemon bars.  Yum!  

After lunch, we spent a bit of time getting Eva comfortable with the Dennis Reis big red ball and the Parelli green ball.  Heather rode my mare Tori and Tami tried out my 4 year old gelding Prince (the Right Brain Introvert she mentions below).  We did some exercises on riding with relaxation, energy, feel and body position and boy did that make a big difference on how Tori and Prince responded to them.  Ann and the girls played in the pond and then Mystic, Tori and Prince ambled through it as well.   Another lovely day in paradise. 

I really love our play dates.  It is so much fun seeing people enjoying their horses and keeping it natural.  I’ll post photos up on the club site.  

Looking forward to the next one on July 11 from 10 to 3 with a potluck lunch at mid day.   See you then!

Hey Jackie,

One “Wow” moment was when I realized my circle leg cues have been backwards and plain confusing.  Early on I remember being taught to lead the nose with the rein, support the shoulder with your inside leg at the girth (so it doesn’t fall in) and bend the body around the inside leg by having the outside leg back towards the hindquarters to “put the horse on the circle”.  What I felt today when you showed us the opposite was so much better.  It made perfect sense when you demonstrated it on us, having the inside leg behind the girth and the outside leg in front of the girth.  You hardly even needed the rein.  That feel is way better and it flowed so nicely.

I really liked the way you use your hips to start the back up, and can add leg in time to the lifting of their front feet to round the body.  That felt really nice.  When you find that right groove, the horses offer so much more, lightly and flexibly.  It helped closing my eyes.  I could feel the back up so much better, and it helped me keep my head up rather than looking down at the shoulders and weighting that front end.

With the leg yields, I started to recognize that sideways “rocking” feel so I could help the hind leg step over.  Once you get it all coordinated it flows so nicely.  But you’re right, you can’t think about it or you miss it.  When my brain was working, my body bogged down and stiffened.  It helped when you said “now”, “now”, “now” as the leg came up.  I could connect the feel of the horse to what my timing needed to be.

I’m having all sorts of “light bulb” moments.  My instinct, muscle memory in those leg aids is backwards.  It actually blocks the horse rather than helps them.  So I have to consciously repeat it properly until I can re-program myself to do it right instinctively.

Guess what else came to my attention.  RBI’s can’t handle being blocked!  Too much pressure.  I was blocking Prince in my stiff “thinking state” seat, my backwards leg cues, and using more rein pressure than he was accustomed to.  Poor guy.  I had him boxed in everywhere!  No wonder his brain shut down and he didn’t know what to do with all that conflicting pressure.

Their perceptiveness to subtleties is amazing.

All in all it was really cool.  Thank you.


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