Bryce took the horse and this time added a sharp pop with the end of the lead rope on the horse's hip with each change of direction. Very quickly the horse began to focus on Bryce and began to match Bryce's movements, to the point where the horse's feet were in sync with Bryce's. The horse went from looking scattered and some what wild eyed, to lowering his head and looking much more relaxed. That seemed to set the tone for that horse for the rest of the clinic.
Laurie talked about how you need to match the horse's energy. In clinic #2, Bryce worked with a horse in a very slow, calm, relaxed manner because that was what that horse needed. The horse in clinic #3 needed a stronger, more assertive leader, so that is what Bryce provided.
Ground work today advanced the techniques from the last two sessions. Participants stood with their backs to the wall and practiced sending their horses in a half circle around them, using the wall as a "stop" and attempting to keep the horse facing the wall without turning in toward handler.
Then we had the horse who was getting his first ride of the season and feeling his oats. Right after we all mounted, he crow-hopped his way halfway across the arena. His rider gladly let Bryce take over for a while. Bryce did some groundwork for a bit, looking for the softness in the poll and loin that he had previously talked about. This horse turned his head toward Bryce as he lunged, but his body was tight. Bryce put pressure on his hip to help soften him and from there was able to ride without incident.
We counted cadence again and spent time working on disengaging the hip and coming through with the front end. Jasper needs work on stepping under himself when cued, so I was glad to have the opportunity to practice this. Laurie suggested I should try to get him to step more under himself than he was and that would help him to relax more when he felt anxious. Bryce said this was his preferred exercise for helping a horse to relax and focus.
At one point, I commented to a couple ladies how nice and quiet their horses were standing (as Jasper did not want to stand still today). The one lady said that "the horse is a reflection of his rider." She's right. I totally believe that, but I also believe that horses have different personalities. Some are more willing to stand quietly and some feel the need to move their feet more. You can modify these tendencies with time and training. If this lady had seen Jasper when I first started working with him, she would have realized how "calm" he really was on Saturday. He gets better with each ride. And, by the end of the clinic, he was standing quietly.
We split into two groups and practiced transitions. We formed an inner and outer circle, with each group circling in the opposite direction. Then we were supposed to weave in and out between each other as we circled. It didn't always work quite as planned, so it was quite fun!
We finished up with a "race" across the arena. You could go as fast as your horse could flat walk without breaking gait. Non-gaited horses got a head start. Kid 3 wasn't able to come to the clinic due to her catching my stomach bug, so I had offered her spot to one of my adult students who was planning to audit the clinic. She rode Raven for the first part of the clinic, then switched to Piper.
Piper stepped right out in her big flat walk and "won" the first heat. I think she would have done as well the second heat, but she got boxed in behind another horse that kept trying to kick at her. That knocked her out of contention. Oh, well, it was fun seeing her lead the pack the first time!
That's all I can recall at the moment. If I think of something else, I'll make another post. The final clinic in the series is in two weeks. I have a prior commitment, so I won't be attending. If someone is motivated, you could take notes on Clinic #4 and I'll post it here.
Thanks to the Thompsons for the use of their arena, the Galbraiths for sharing their expertise, Sandy & Kerrie for the photos and everyone for the yummy meal afterwards!