I really enjoy seeing everyone’s GIFs and it’s such a nice way to see clips of a ride without needing to watch through a whole video so I decided to make some of my own. Not the best video but hopefully you can kind of see what's going on.
On Thursday I had a ride planned with Katai and initially planned to work on reinforcing my forward cues. Katai moves off one leg or the other very well but ever since we started to introduce the concept of lateral work she is extremely resistant to my leg cues to go forward. This results in lots of giraffe-ing, sometimes bucking, and my favorite *dripping sarcasm* when she just completely stops and refuses to move.
We’ve tried being firm, we’ve tried being gentle, we’ve tried whip reinforcement, etc. but nothing has really worked. I think it’s a combination of pony stubbornness, feeling overwhelmed with pressure (asking to go forward into a giving hand with both legs rather than one apparently fries pony brains), and sometimes maybe a little muscle soreness/tiredness.
Just the day before I’d watched this video and there were two big things that stuck out to me.
One was, although I know this and we’ve tried it, the insistence that the horse listen to forward. Ultimately I shouldn’t feel bad about it, she just needs to go when I ask for it. It doesn’t need to be pretty she just needs to go. The other was the concept of still concentrating on the outside rein even to the direction that the horse has a tougher time bending to. This is what Jane is coaching but in a slightly different format and I’ve probably still been asking for too much inside bend to the left. This helped me realize that I need to focus more on the shoulder and not losing it to the outside rather than having an equal bend to the inside as what I have to the right.
At any rate I planned to work on reinforcing forward during my ride on Thursday. I knew that she’d be a tired from our lesson on Tuesday so I kind of thought she’d be in full on refusal mode which would likely have the most impact. I was going to throw the reins at her completely, ask gently, and then quickly escalate my aids until I got a nice forward reaction. Then, a missing piece, I was going to practice it a lot during that ride and not give up. I also carried a dressage whip so that just in case she completely ignored my strong kicks (it’s happened in the past) I could reinforce with the dressage whip as well.
After all of that, I cued for the trot and got this.
No fireworks, no giraffe-ing. Even better, I got the same reaction twice and during the entire ride I never got a no reaction. A couple of things were different including the completely loose rein. She’s great with her transitions in side reins on the lunge so clearly I’m doing something (or she just doesn’t feel like I can reinforce my aids from the saddle, the bugger). I also was working on changes within the walk and asking for a larger walk, I’m wondering if maybe she sometimes just feels surprised by my forward cues but because I’d set her up better this time she was more willing.
Things to think about anyway!
Then later I got this sort of cute "no" response to cantering. Poor pony was tired. If there were volume you'd hear me giggling at her :)
We went right back to canter after that and had a good canter in both directions but she needed to express her dislike of the situation. Pony was clearly tired though so we kept it pretty short.