Friday, January 6, 2012

Finding the Pattern

My lesson with Mark and Rion today was enlightening. We spent the first half of the lesson working on the lunge and the second with me riding on the circle.When I first took Rion to Mark  three years ago he was a a classic, unbalanced throughbred. After the work that we did with him then he was a much better, much happier in himself. Since that time there have been ups and downs and large interruptions to our training together. 

Today our lesson was based around the the correlation in training between the Pat Parelli system and the training scale. As I have mentioned before, everything when riding and similarly, on the ground, relates to the training scale. For Rion at the start of the lesson, due to the bad habits he has picked up by my lack of leadership he wasn't ticking any of the boxes on either scale

Is the horse maintaining the gait?
Is he acting like a prey animal?                       &
Is he looking where he is going?
Is he maintaining direction?

Together both scales create a horse that is in-tune with its rider on the ground and under saddle. In my opinion if you don't establish and maintain movements and behaviours on the ground you can only expect a finite relation between the ground and saddle behaviours. I admit that my mistake with Rion was not maintaining his groundwork - to the right degree. I still worked to the bone on his lunging but I had not been using the lighter, more common, light lunge line rather than the heavier rope line I have been using. Mark informs me that in order to find the 'finesse' in my horse I need to be using the light line.

Mark stepped in on the lunging early on, picking the cause of Rion's problems, as demonstrated by his behaviours on the ground, were due to his 'running the show'. If the horse is not maintaining the gait he is not listening to the leader, when we asked him to yield to the contact, the pressure of the line, his failure to listen earned him a flick with the whip. He runs, he stops, he bucks, just as a young horse tries his best to create distractions for himself he questions the leader. Rion as a horse in general has been described as 'storm in a teacup'. Everything is a big deal. On the five year long road I have travelled with this horse I have seen him come from a horse that was scared of his own skin to a horse that is temperamental and aggressive of sorts. His question of leadership is constant and as I became complacent in my training of him I never noticed how this had occurred.

Midway through my journey with Rion I had a horse, after working with Mark that could accept the contact and met the regulations - if you will - of the training and Parelli scales. The lesson was all about the foundations again. Asking at first then telling him to maintain the speed we directed not the speed or direction he wished to follow. As the cogs turned, the tongue licks as the usual signs of acceptance and 'mulling over' occur he loosens over the back and his hips start to swing, maintaining the direction. In that moment, another box ticked on the scales. Each step on the scales directly correlates whereby there is a direct line between the two scales and the behaviour of the horse.

When I hopped into the saddle, I had to learn to give my reins, using my core as a means of control rather than the hand. I had grown a reaction to his behaviour - as he tensed I would follow in suite - a natural yet detrimental action on my behalf. In my riding I have to teach Rion to have confidence in the hand and come in-front of the leg by following through the contact, following his nose. The lick of the lips and the lengthening of the neck and the smile crosses my face as I get my horse moving through his body, loosening across the back. We have done it before and we can do it again.

I have lost much of my core strength from my time spent studying at a desk and neglecting the gym and riding itself. It is time for a change. I'm considering this week the start of my new year's resolution. Better late than never as they say.

All in all it was a very enlightening and constructive lesson learnt during the lesson.

This week we will be doing more work with Mark in the quest to make my beast tamed. 
Until my next lesson - adios :)


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