Pas de Deux Part Deux
I had a lesson arranged with Alexandrine this morning. I had thought I’d probably do some dressage type stuff with Flurry, because we have a competition coming up on October 12th. Unfortunately, I had a follow-up visit with the osteopath yesterday. She did a lot of work on my left hip and I knew I should take it easy even before I checked with her…
So first of all I thought I’d do travail sur sol (in-hand work) with Flurry (because he needs it more than Aero). And then I thought, well, what I’m really struggling with is the Ride One/Work One stuff, so why not seek help from Alexandrine with that? So I did, thinking it would be gentle, easy work. And it was – mostly. I may have overdone it on the leg-yielding though. My hip and back started to complain after doing that for fifteen minutes. Oops.
I felt I should work with Flurry solo for 10 – 15 minutes, just to get him tuned in and receptive. This worked like a charm, apart from the fact that Flurry could see Aero grazing the whole time he was working and he was fully aware of the injustice of the situation.
I decided to opt for a shorter whip, without a lash. I’m very, very good at getting everything tangled up together and I figured one less piece of string/rope would be a good thing. It was better, I was much less tangled, but it shortened my range for touching Aero.
I wasn’t sure whether to ride Flurry in a bridle or the rope halter. I opted for the halter in the end, saying that I could switch if I wasn’t happy. As it turned out, I completely forgot that Flurry was bitless. It feels so normal to me now!
This time, Flurry was really well tuned in and Aero was a bit asleep. I have to figure out how to balance having one very reactive horse and one rather laid back horse. Perhaps next time, I will work the two of them on the ground together for a while. I definitely need to work on sharpening up Flurry’s reactions.
I notice a couple of times in the video that Flurry’s going quite nicely – and I don’t release the contact as a reward. He ends up asking me for a release, and I still don’t give it. I’m so focussed on ‘doing stuff’ that I forget about riding him properly and rewarding him for his efforts. Poor Flurry. He really was trying!
When I tried Aero at liberty, at the end of the session, I allowed myself to rush into it rather than thinking about what I was doing and preparing for it. At the end, when I remember to put the stick in front of Aero’s nose and lead him with it, he suddenly goes much more fluidly. Gotta remember that, too!
I need to stop over-correcting Flurry. When I was asking Aero to return to us (reverse/return), Flurry turned his head towards me. I corrected him – on the video, it was nothing. I should have let him be.
The hardest part for me is handling all the gear. Two long lead ropes and one stick in two hands. After the first few really awful attempts at leg-yield, Alex suggested that I tie up Aero’s lead rope so it was like reins and to hold it as such, as well as moving Flurry away from Aero rather than towards. That worked a lot better and I found the two sets of rope easier to handle in that manner.
All in all, I was really pleased with them both. This is new, fun stuff for the three of us. It has completely changed all our views (me, Aero and Flurry) on arena work.
We may even attempt canter soon. On a warm day. Preferably with two very tired, lazy horses.