Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Whip Anticipation

Driving in an open bridle is a wonderful thing- with one exception.  Without blinders, a horse can see, and anticipate, the use of your whip as you use it as an aid to turn, move over, or change directions.  The past few drives Louie has definitely been picking up on this and I have to be very careful that he doesn't move away too much.  I do my best to try to keep my whip neutral and work on patterns to keep him responsive, but it's one indication to me that we should start re-introducing the blinders. 

Tonight I long lined Louie and for the first time in many months, added the blinders after a brief warm-up.  We will need to carefully introduce driving with the blinders, but he did great with them on, picked it up again like riding a bike, and it really helped with negating anticipation of my cues. 

After I warmed Louie up in the lines and blinders, he played the role as a "lesson horse" to teach another boarder who wants to learn to long line, and eventually drive her riding horse.  Louie did great as a teacher and was very patient with her for the most part. 

It was interesting as I don't teach regularly and don't really think about how I integrate my body and brain in order to smoothly long line, but breaking it down and thinking about what I do subconsciously was actually rather revealing.  However, I wasn't even able to realize what I do with my body until I was able to see the gaps in communication between Mary and Louie, then I could see what she did compared to what I did and figure out how to help her.  One of the most tricky things was doing circles and keeping Louie appropriately "in" and "out" on the circle and with even tension on the lines.  Mary figured it out after I eventually realised what I was doing with my own hands so that I could put it in words to show her.  Another thing that was a little tricky, but quickly solved was changing directions and changing sides behind the horse, and flipping the reins from one side to the other- just at the right moment. 

Overall, it was a nice lesson- a good re-introduction to the blind bridle and a very nice introductory lesson for a new driver.

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