I really should have rode on Easter....It wasn't like we did anything special...or anything at all, for that matter...but the weather wasn't incredibly helpful. Every time I thought it had finally cleared up (Yes, we finally got a bit of rain. It's been pretty dry here.), it would start sprinkling just hard enough that I didn't really want to ride in it.
Moon got a few more days off than I wanted him to have, but I did kick everyone out to pasture for a couple of days so they could roam around. I always figure that is better for them than standing in a darned pen, if I cannot get them rode.
At least til the grass starts strengthening up and then I won't be able to do that. I'll have fat horses again.
Now that everyone is in pretty decent condition, it's been time to move on to more intricate work. Sprints, Spirals and Stop and Go's have been added to the mix and I have been kicking up the barrel patterning exercises a notch.
Now that Moon has a couple of runs under his belt, I can feel him wanting to start cheating the pattern again in practice. Well this year...that is NOT going to happen. I have been asking him to stretch out at the trot as well as canter up to the barrels and I can feel him anticipating the turn. He's pretty specific about what he does where. At least he is consistent that way. LOL...Rotten horse. ;-)
Going to first, he likes to stiffen his neck (right side), wants to drop that inside shoulder and flip his hindquarter out.
That one is easy to fix though. I just haul his butt to a stop, make him run backward and roll him into a reverse arc, ride back up to the pocket and set him down., reverse arc again and make his stand there a minute. Think about that big boy!
He's getting a bit lazy with his feet coming out of 1st...wants to float away from the barrel.
That one I miss the timing on about half the time. He's not as bad about it if I remember to look to the next barrel, but I can still feel that little bow in his ribcage. We just keep right on turning that barrel until he gets those feet moving and comes around like he is supposed to. Just to reinforce the idea, I stop him after he has cleared the barrel. Pet him. Reverse arc around and go around one more time. He'll get the picture. >:-/...He better!
I've been pushing him farther into his rate spot at both 2nd and 3rd. I think part of the problem last year (and his stall-outs on the backside of 3rd this year) is he is rating too soon and loses too much momentum to get all the way around the barrels. He's anticipating the turns a little much, so I have really been driving him into the rate spot and making him stop straight and back up into his inside (left) hip.
I watched some of the video clips of Ed Wright clinics on YouTube and noticed how high and forward he had people riding with their hands. It feels ridiculous to me to ride like that...Buuuuuttttt...I have been trying to do that and lo and behold...it works.
Okay...ridiculous feeling or not....there is a reason for it and Yes, I am out there working on getting the feel for that, both on the barrel pattern and when I am doing other exercises.
I know one of the reasons Moon is not completing his last stride on 3rd is because I am letting him go too soon and he thinks...Oh, okay...ruuunnnn home. I HAVE to make myself reach down on that rein and hold him up all the way through the turn. Trying the Ed Wright method of holding the reins seems to be driving that point home with me.
As for the off pattern exercises...Moon is a good sprint horse. He can go from zero to mach 1 in 2 strides. Stopping is his big problem. Turk is about like Moon...all run...no whoa!
I mean...I can stop them of course...they are just not naturally big stoppers. So for those two, the sprint work is more about working on their stops from the sprint than it is about the run part. Both Moon and Turk need to learn how to control their speed and rate correctly, which is straight bodied and using the hindquarter. They actually get more Stop and Go work than flat out sprints.
Spooks and Frosty are my big stoppers. Frosty has a big motor, but sticking his hinny in the dirt is is easy and natural for him. He's learning how to run a little. About as fast as I care for him to go right now :O...and I haven't even tapped into the higher gears yet. Spooks...well....Spooks hunts the stops. Each stride I ask him to stretch out and run...he is pretty sure that the very next stride I am going to be asking for the Whoa. He is really funny. He tries to run for me, but his mind is so focused on anticipating the Whoa, that he is really jerky. I don't do a lot of big Whoas with him. I swear he can go from his herky-jerky run to a WP lope in one stride.
Everyone has been getting more smaller circle work. Inside bends, focusing on pushing off of the inside leg and moving the front feet in line. Counter arcs, focusing on getting the shoulders moving. Turn-arounds-shoulders and front feet and roll-backs-planting the inside hind leg and moving those shoulders and backing. Not just backing up and dragging their feet backwards, but picking up each diagonal and moving it backward.
I also threw down a set of 4 trot-over poles. Geez! That was funny. Either they tried to hop over them or practically stumbled through the line. Oiy Vey! (shaking my head in disgust)
So that's where we are now. Will probably be working on these exercises for the next few weeks and hopefully see more improvement in everyone. This bunch has a long way to go yet.