I had the last of my boot camp lessons tonight; three lessons in 7 days, and probably the most progress I've ever seen in myself and my horse over the course of three lessons. I'm trying not to be too sad that the trainer is leaving for Florida because that gives me a whole winter to do my homework and take checkup lessons with the barn's other trainers and then kick butt in the spring.
Key takeaways from last night:
- Get him straight and forward first and before all else. I was trying to supple too early, and following some previous training advice which said to get him overbent and kick him on through that. R. compared this to a kink in a hose: if he's overbent all that forward I'm asking for gets stuck. Better to start with a straight horse and then channel that.
- When he flings his head skyward when I apply leg, don't get suckered into fighting with him about that. Give the reins so he doesn't have anything to brace against and KICK. Kick him until he's very very forward and then praise him and go back to a gentler aid. So putting my leg on in the trot resulted in a head flipping, I refused to take the bait and booted him into a good rollicking canter, nearly a hand gallop, patted him, and only once the forward gear had been established did I take him back to the trot. Repeat as necessary.
- In picking up canter leads, I need to pay more attention to his shoulders. If he's overbent to the inside, his shoulders are pointed to the outside and I'm just inviting him to pick up the wrong lead. Similarly, don't drag down on the inside rein through the transition.
- Seriously need to work on elastic arms and shoulders. That's the key to a more consistent contact and more even way of going.
- FORWARD. We have made big strides in this department but I need to stay on task and not settle for "more forward than last time" but really truly establish where he needs to be.
We did make the switch in his bitting arrangement. He's going in a thinner bit with a football shaped lozenge in the French link rather than a flat piece, the bit was raised two holes, and we've added the flash back onto his bridle. Overall he's much more consistent and happy in it.
He'll get a well-deserved night off tonight. I'll start banking barn time again and probably check in with a lesson at the end of October, but we have lots to work on in the meantime.