1. If the horse won't bend/flex at the POLL (not the neck!), they are probably also tight in the loin and will be more prone to buck or do something dangerous.
2.When lunging, ask for a change of direction by raising the lead rope with your arm to suggest the horse make the change more on the front end as opposed to disengaging the hindquarters. I was previously taught to just disengage the hindquarters (and I like to do that), but I can see the value of this method and will try to incorporate it as well into my training.
This method also works well to teach the horse to line up next to a fence, etc., if you need a mounting aid. I'm going to try teaching this to Piper. She seems to get taller every time I go to get on!
3. Counting Cadence. As you ride, your foot tends to swing slightly with the motion of the horse. When your foot reaches the inner most swing of the pendulum, your horse's front foot on that side is about to leave the ground. You can verify this by peeking to see when the horse's shoulder begins to raise.
When your horse's back foot is about to leave the ground, your foot is at the outermost swing of the pendulum. Alternatively, you may feel your hip on that side dropping to the lowest point while the horse is walking.
Call out "now" as the horse's foot leaves the ground and have a buddy watch to make sure you are counting with the correct timing. This is valuable for improving your timing in asking for direction changes, gait transitions, lead changes, and helping your horse to be more responsive and less likely to ignore your leg cue.
4. Calling changes. Nominate someone to call various transitions, ie. full circle direction change, half-circle, slow down, speed up, speed up-but still stay in a walk, stop, back, etc. Try for a "perfect" circle or half-circle while maintaining the same speed (no slowing or speeding up). Transition from a walk to a faster walk. How little cue can you give your horse to get them to slow down or stop. Can you get your horse to barely move one step at a time, but still maintain forward momentum?
Riding lesson students beware: I will probably be incorporating more of #4 into our lessons!
I wasn't taking notes, so these are the items I remember off the top of my head. Hopefully I got it all down correctly.
This clinic was part of a series that will continue every other week through the beginning of April. I've got a previous commitment for the April one, but I am hoping to go to the ones in March. Thank you Laurie and Bryce! Good Stuff!