So far the high point of this week was Jazzs’ first proper training day. I had my first lesson on him. Ok, so due to me not being physically capable of trotting yet it was a micro-lesson. We just walked, but to be honest I am starting right from the ground up so I want to make his walk as good as possible anyway.
We worked on bare basics. Primarily straightness, correct turning – so turning not just his head and neck but his whole body which means turning through with his shoulders. This prevents ‘rubber neck’ where the head and neck bend and turn but the body doesn’t follow and the horse falls out through their shoulders. This exercise is best done using 4 blocks to make a square, then you make right angle turns at each block. Aim for 90 degree turns. A clear step with the inside leg and the neck staying in line with the shoulders, i.e. not allowing the shoulder to fall out.
He grasped this relatively quickly so we mixed it up and did some circling round the blocks too. The turning exercise helped with straightness on straight lines, preventing his baby-ish wobbling. We added in a few walk-halt-walk transitions to see how easily he stopped. Stopping was not an issue and staying still was ok until I asked softly for him to lower his head rather than have in giraffe style staring into the distance. He mistook this as rein-back as I was clearly asking him wrong. I discovered he extremely sensitive to rein pressure in asking for softness and only minor squeezing (tightening grip or squeezing the rein as opposed to pulling is necessary).
Reinforcement is the key. I will do exactly this over the next few sessions with him. I will also take him up the lane to finish as I did yesterday with mum on her horse after the micro-lesson was over. Slowly introducing him to hacking around the yard. He was a very good boy with a long, nicely paced walk and he was not overly spooky which is an excellent start.
I should also point out here that despite his lovely, calm nature. He is still a young horse with about a year’s worth of ridden work to his name so I will lunge him before I ride so he is allowed to trot and canter of his own free will and to burn up the excess energy he has. Safety first, preventing and accidents is absolutely key and it is necessary for him to be educated in walk before we proceed too much. While I am insistent on not rushing him, he needs more than walk work to stay well-behaved, mentally engaged and in better physical shape.
After our first lesson. Very proud that we have begun our journey together.
The last couple of days Storm has been charged with creating ‘The Perfect Walk’. He is a little rusty as I mentioned before but improvements all the time. He needs some more hacking out so he doesn’t feel too drilled and pressured. He flourishes when he is on form but it is really easy to tip him into dull/zoned-out as this is how he deals with pressure. He switches off.
I have finally managed to get riding Dice out a little bit. Some nice hacks up the lanes. He is a really good boy when he is good. He has been desperate to get out the arena and relax. He is fantastic and my heart just warms when I am on him and it is all going smoothly. I can leave the reins on his neck and he just carries me at whatever pace I set him at and with no reins or very slack reins he just keeps going. He is a testament to what a strong relationship can do.
Dice and I came across Storm, Jazz and friends in their field alongside the lane. So we stopped to say hi, but briefly because Dicey can be too bossy/dominant for the softy boys.