Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Making Progress

Today was a really good day with Casey. I'm still figuring out what exactly makes her tick and what works for her, but really I think that her mood has the biggest impact on how our rides go. Some days Casey just has a terrible attitude and doesn't want to work, but on days like today, she is responsive and willing to work together.
My good girlie
I started off our ride together by just having her walk on a loose rein. I want her to become more willing to move at a walk and the beginning of our ride is always the time at she is most relaxed. She was being really good and wasn't trying to jig at all. Once those muscles had started to warm up I asked her for a trot.
When I ask Casey to speed up I usually just have to use my voice and my body language and she moves into the next gait. If I apply any leg she will jump forward into a really fast trot. The more relaxed and subtle I keep my cues the more relaxed and mellow she is. So today I asked for a trot and she moved into a nice calm, collected trot. This might be the first time I've ever asked her for a trot and she didn't take off at the fastest-trot-she-can-possibly-go-at, so progress!
We trotted around for probably 10 minutes. We were doing a lot of circles and I was trying to get her to bend more, but she is decidedly anti-bend. She takes leg pressure as a cue to try to run so I was trying to get her to move more sideways by putting more pressure into my thigh and knee and giving her little signals through the reins. She responded to this with limited success. She would start to get a bend but couldn't seem to hold it past a few seconds. She is also much worse at bending when we are circling clockwise than when we are circling counter-clockwise. Even though bending was a struggle, she was so calm in the trot. She didn't try to go any faster and she was so relaxed. It is amazing that she is capable of this because she truly was awful and speed-demon-y when we first started working together.
That NOSE!
After trotting and then walking some more I asked Casey for a canter. She picked up a beautiful calm canter the first time I asked her. She didn't try to run through the reins or speed up at all. When I first started working with Casey she had a very unbalanced, hard-to-sit canter, but as she has gained muscle she's developing an awesome rocking-horse canter. We did probably 10 laps of the large arena before she started to show signs of being tired. Casey, like almost every other horse I've ridden, tends to speed up and cut corners and just loses control of her canter when she is getting tired. But even when she was tiring she kept going with just a little clucking from me and she tried to collect her canter again when I asked. When I asked her for a downward transition she immediately dropped into a trot, although it was a little bit of a wild trot, but after a few half-halts she slowed into a nice collected trot, before dropping into a walk. This is such an improvement for her! I'm really very proud of her.
We cantered the other direction for a few laps and then we were ready for jumping. I don't want to jump Casey high when I am outside of a lesson (at least not yet), because she is still building muscle and we are still getting to know each other. I am trying to avoid breaking my new horse. So I set up some cross rails that were 1'6"-2' tall. When we were jumping I was just trying to get her to be calm to the jump and not rush to it. She was really well behaved and only really rushed one or two jumps, but for the rest was really listening. She was having trouble with the blue jump on the diagonal line and I really am not sure why. She chipped in once and tapped a rail another time. I'm not sure what the issue was, but eventually she was able to get a good distance to it and clear it. Once she got it we were done. We walked around and cooled off and then Casey got lots of treats and pets for being such a good horsie.
So cute
I love her
Tomorrow is our first lesson together with my trainer. I am excited to get another person's insight into training Casey, plus I am excited to jump real jumps! I will post again tomorrow with a lesson recap :)

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