Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Very Productive Lesson!

Saturday Boyfriend hauled Milo and I to Sarah's for a lesson. He was such a sport and even took some random video from the lesson. It was a great one too, and I learned that things were stemming from me - yet again! In the past week, I said to Sarah, Milo has been broncy going into the canter with the wall reins on, he's been rushing, tense, and it felt like we were going backwards again. I had the wall reins attached to my saddle so it would be handy if we needed them, and warmed Milo up on the ground. He was responding very well, a bit unsteady in his rhythm and not totally utilizing his body, but finally he started reaching towards my contact and lifting his back more. Sarah finished up with her horse, Rhett Butler, and I began warming Milo up at the trot. With reminder to ride off of my outside rein and continue my torso twists, Milo began to track up nicely, and we started on some suppling and strengthening exercises for his back and hocks - something that Sarah called three-tracking. This is similar to a shoulder-in, but he reaches out with his hind in the process with a subtle bend in his body, maintaining lifted shoulders. We found Milo had a much harder time bending to the left, which has been consistent for a while.

I got quite a few great concepts out of our lope work. First, we addressed his rushing into it, and Sarah had me work a circle with nose in hip out, and once he was soft and on the outside rein, to simply switch my hips then and ask for the lope departure. Lately, I had been really making a big deal of it thinking "ok, I need to load the outside, switch hips, make sure I hold onto my reins", and I was normally doing this on a long-side of the arena. I was making a big deal out of it instead, as Sarah reminded, of just riding. If I make a big deal out of the departure, Milo will too. So she had me do this circle to get him relaxed and on the outside rein with a subtle bend in his body and then just change my hips to lope off. It was a great strategy, catching Milo off guard, but because he was set up correctly, he stepped right up into the lope nicely. Going to the right, the difficult way for a wither lift, we tried this new tactic, and Milo loped off beautifully. I had a great reminder too to simply wait until Milo is ready for the departure, and to not over-think everything. 

So we get into the lope and Sarah says I am sitting way off center - I'm keeping most of my weight on my right seat bone. In the lope Milo was scrambling and unbalanced, and she said I needed to find center between my seat bones. I torso twisted back and forth as we loped along, and finally I was able to feel my imbalance that Sarah was seeing. I really could feel the additional weight on the right seat bone, and as I worked to finding center between the two, Milo started relaxing and coming into the outside rein. It was so amazing to see how important it was for me to make sure that my body is in the right position so Milo can follow suit. Just another reason why the issues always seem to be coming from me and my balance, and how Milo only works as I do. I made the comment though that I'm glad that my horse doesnt just tune me out and work anyways, but he makes me work properly as well. If I'm not balanced and correct, why should he be?

Lastly in the lope, Sarah really opened my eyes. She made me totally drop my inside rein as we loped on the straight line and this was to test if Milo was maintaining his own self carriage and balancing off the outside rein. I was nervous to let go of the inside rein, believing that he would drop his shoulder and bend outwards into the outside rein. I was so pleasantly surprised when I did test him and he stayed straight. I even exclaimed in the video clip how amazed and elated I was that he remained straight. Sarah said so brilliantly that if I dont test him and see if all the work I have been putting into him as paid off, he is going to learn to balance off of me all of the time. It was a real eye opener to see that I can trust that my horse is doing what he is supposed to, and that I dont need to maintain this constant control and micromanaging over him that I fall into the habit of doing. 

It was pretty warm out and Milo was doing well and tired so Sarah asked if there was anything else to work on before we ended. I wanted her to watch the spin work I had been doing with him, employing more of an inside bend as I had done when riding Wesley the previous Monday. I learned that torso twisting even in the small circle before the spin was beneficial because I tend to turn into the spin direction and lock up, which in turn locks up Milo. The video only shows working on the left spin, which is a weaker hock for him, but slow and steady progress is paying off as he builds strength in both hocks. 

Aww, what a productive and educational lesson this one was! I was so happy to have gotten as much out of it as I did, and Milo worked so well (if Im balanced correctly, of course). And what was really cool, was that we never even had to use the wall reins, but rather just set him up properly for the departure without rushing. That is pretty cool. 


Mary said...

You look so nice on Milo. He is such a pretty horse. I love the videos, Kudos to the "filmer" I really can't see any balance issues, but I'm so expert so, if you say so. When is Milo ever going to get his darn ball?!

Mary said...

I'm *NO* expert I meant...

paint_horse_milo said...

Mary, he DID get his ball, I guess I forgot to post about it. We received it and filled it up, brought it out on Friday. By saturday morning (when we hauled out for the lesson) he had killed it! It was deflated. It wasnt as strong plastic as the purple one. I just cant seem to replace it. I wish it had had some sort of brand or identification on it but nothing. :(

And thanks for the compliment! I think Milo is pretty cute myself. ;) The lope video was taken after she told me about my hip, so its better footage then before. This side showed more resistence than balance issues. And YES! Thank you to Boyfriend. He kept saying, "Im not sure what you want me to film.." and I just kept saying anything! random! LOL

Mary said...

Well dang! Milo needs a ball! I laughed out loud watching those vieos of him playing with it in one of your posts. He might get grouchy without one. ;-) thanks for the reply.

Mary said...

*V-I-D-E-O I really don't have a speech impdiment.

Rising Rainbow said...

Woohoo! You changed the way your comments come up and I can post!!! Thank you, thank you!

Sounds like you are making progress and so is Milo. That's very cool.

I have to remind myself to not always hold my horse too. That's probably my biggest problem. For the longest time I had to drive my horse into pressure to get him to round up (that's because it's rehab work from his injury as a foal). Without that pressure, he just didn't get there. Now that he is finally there, I have to remember to ask him to round up without the pressure and if I do need to add it, to remember to give him a much bigger release than what I could productively do before.

Also I wanted to say regarding the last post, Milo's maturity is directly related to your handling. He has made progress as you have taught him, and expected of him. So remember to give yourself some credit when you see how far he has come. You deserve it just as he does.

paint_horse_milo said...

I switched the comments right after your e-mail! Great to hear from you again! :)