Christmas break is a time of wonder for most people. For me, as a state/University employee, it's also known as my annual vacation. I will get around to taking a real vacation with my family sometime, but in the meantime, this is when I rock it. By rock it, I mean ride my horses during the daytime and do things like hike with my dogs at the nearby forest.
I'm out of control, I know.
This year was different in that I had Arthur to work with and Piper, while coming along, really needed a come to Jesus set of training times. Arthur progressed with his ground work and I ended up on him bareback with a halter. We rode calmly for 100 feet and then a circle each way before I slid off by the end of the break. Not bad, eh?
Now for Piper.
Piper is a headstrong, confident, gutsy little thing. She doesn't know the word no though which is a contradiction. Part of the reason I love riding her is she is SOOO smart and will readily give me her all. The reason I DON'T like riding Piper is that she owns her training. In this case, her OLD and outdated training I'm trying to change. Once she knows something, she KNOWS it. You can build on it, but taking it down is tough. Its about 2 hours of work on my part when I normally was hoping for about 45 minutes.
So for break, I was going head to head with the little wee beastie. She needed to learn to get the heck off my hands and balance herself! Piper is naturally VERY well balanced, catty, and agile. Moving her body around is not an issue. Compensating for a rider, even my size, is not an issue for her. Much like a racehorse however, she was "held back" when she wanted to go and taught to pull down and out to get her way. Awesomesauce.
The game this break was to take away her ability to lean on me. Balance herself. All those goodies.
My tool of choice? A rope halter and my reining saddle.
I just went to the riding area and asked her to move around. If she pulled on me, we one rein stopped to a halt. She hates that. Like a legitimate, no moving until I say go halt. It was like her sky had fallen. We worked on this concept of "wait until I tell you to go up a gear" and "stop means stop until I say go." Working our way up to circles, that meant no "falling in" the circle. If she did, she was one rein stopped to a halt again.
Bottom line, we progressed this way daily for about 2 hours each day with me just being consistent with these concepts. Again, she's very smart so within the 2 weeks she figured out how to go nicely on the flat without dragging me around/wheeling in tiny circles like she's still barrel racing. It's a work in progress and she wasn't happy but we got it done. By the end of the training, she was much more chill and flexible in her work. My son was her cool out rider for most of the days and he loved it.
Merry Christmas Pipes!