In which we aren't there yet, but we aren't giving up on getting better
Margie posted the GPS track of our arena lesson at Fish Creek yesterday.
|Yep. It looks like we turned the arena into a swimming pool...for sharks...|
It was a good, hard lesson. Not the hardest I've had with Fiddle lately, and not the most frustrating.
But definitely challenging.
|Group lessons mean we can take turns being watched, practicing, and watching|
other riders--all good for learning.
We're working on balance, flexion, shoulder-in--all that good stuff to help horse and rider communicate better.
I've re-thought my strategy for Fiddle's canter work.
We've got a couple of issues to work through before we will be successful.
|#1 issue: She isn't very good at this|
Fiddle is not only really bad at cantering, there's also some fear there. She doesn't like to fall down (who does?) and falling is a distinct possibility for her at the canter, since she's so disconnected.
| #2 issue: Fear --> Anger|
That's how this horse does things
She also fears being WRONG.
|Improved balance on the circle, once she gets going.|
I've talked previously about Fiddle's issues regarding right and wrong vs good and bad.
|Better balance, better rhythm. And then...|
I know there are lots of people-pleasing horses out there. Fiddle isn't one of those.
She does good stuff because doing good stuff is the right thing to do.
|...she falls back into the trot.|
One of the things Fee "knows" is good is to "take care of the rider."
She also knows that floundering around and nearly falling is not good rider-care.
She doesn't want to be wrong when it comes to taking care of me, and I have no problem with that.
I kinda like the part where she takes care of me--it totally saved me last year when I was broken but didn't give up riding.
|Canter depart is clumsy and heavy|
And when Fiddle gets scared and mad, the communication stops.
|Once moving, she can do this|
So, my first step is to get her comfortable with a good, coordinated canter departure and a verbal cue.
When she picks up the canter in the round pen, even clumsily, she gets heaps of verbal praise.
|If she's not afraid, she will try things that are difficult|
Cookies help the praise sink in better.
Simultaneously, I'm working on my canter-riding skills with Hana.
Once Fiddle is able to canter comfortably in the round pen, we'll practice in the arena on a longe line without a rider.
Then, when she knows she can canter in the arena on a line without falling, we'll add a rider (not me) who can help her stay strong and balanced.
Confidence is key. If she becomes afraid, she gets angry and then communication stops.
I don't mind that she gets angry...but I need her to work through it so she can make progress. If I don't get angry back at her (easier if I'm not afraid of hurting myself), she will try to do hard stuff.
Yes, there are easier horses in the world.
But this one suits me. We have fun together, and we could both easily survive the rest of our lives without cantering.
But cantering is a challenge and challenges are good.
I'm not in a hurry. (good thing!)