Thursday, February 2, 2012

Lesson 12: Engaging the Haunches

Today we worked on our new hardest, worst gait- the walk.  Julie wants me to get him to stretch down better at the walk (and here I thought we were stretching down really well!) and to do this I need to use my legs and my inside rein.  When he lifts his neck up, I'm to bump him a bunch of times with my legs to get him to get his hind end forward, yet hold with my tummy so he doesn't run off on me.  I think he was really just confused with this, but seemed to relax his neck down for Julie. 

Eventually I think we kind of gave up for the time being on getting him to relax his neck down any further with this method (my personal impression is that the more we get him wound up and frustrated, the more he drops his back and lifts his neck up).  We went back to the one step at a time method, with frequent half-halts during each step, and this seemed to at least provide some pleasing results so we moved to the trot. 

We had a lot better results at the trot, basically half halting frequently, holding half halts for entire circles at a time, and trying to get that feeling of having the hind end engaged- in which he is active, round, light in the bridle (but not as light as when he's ducking behind the bit), carrying himself, and feels a bit like riding a bouncy ball.  We got a few nice moments of this. 

The other major concept from tonight's lesson was getting Louie and I to agree exactly upon the speed in which we are going, so that I don't feel like I'm constantly holding the brakes, yet we have gas available if I decide I want it. 

We worked more on our "extensions" which basically at this point is just releasing a half halt into an active, forward trot.  We didn't get to any cantering today, but we did discover that really, truly, the walk is our worst gait, and we made much more progress with the trot, and Julie thinks that the canter will probably fall right into place for us as the rest of the gaits come together.

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