Friday, October 18, 2013

Second drive around

Sunday I put Kat to the cart again and mostly just focused on walking. Because he has gotten a little pudgy, he was more than happy to start out slow and keep it that way. We worked on bending and softening for starters, and when he decided to jog, I let him. I also dropped my right rein for the most part. If I wasn't holding onto it, I couldn't hang onto him.

When going to the left, I had to pick up my right rein here and there, to keep Kat out on the rail or to keep him from cheating his circles, but he did pretty well without it to lean on. Fixing my mistakes is helping fix his habits.

We ended up working on his normal trot, extended trot, collected trot, the three variations of his walk, halts, backing up, large circles, small circles, pivoting the cart on one wheel, serpentines and anything else I could think of. We also sort of worked on the 'long and low' work as described in the prelim dressage tests for the ADT's. What I ended up using as the 'cue' for it was contact in the begining and slowly letting him have more rein as I eased him forward to find that same contact.

Maybe I will come up with a voice command to go along with it later on, but for now this seemed to work. He seemed to understand what I was asking of him or at least it felt that way in the cart. At least when you are riding, you have your legs to help you. You also have a buckle in your reins in a useful spot. If I were to drive 'on the buckle', he could literally stop and graze. There would be no control.

Overall Kat did really well and I am quite pleased with him. Maybe I will just keep his workouts to a minimum, his food a little on the large portion side and his weight a little heavy on the hoof. Then he won't be so inclined to get all wound up and misbehave.  Even if he does, he would be too out of shape to sustain it for long...  Of course the flip side of all of that would be him getting injured because he is out of shape and that's a road I just don't want to go down.  There's got to be a happy medium, right?

Monday, October 14, 2013

A La Carte

I drove over the weekend and while it has been some time since I did, little man rose to the occasion did not disappoint! He's just an awesome little guy that way.  Pulling him out of pasture and putting the harness on him on Saturday,  I could just tell he was excited about doing something again. Anything...

In case anyone didn't know- he has been the center of attention for the past two years and then since March, after the CDE, has been back to just hanging out doing nothing. He was turned out and brought in as usual, but we only drove maybe 3 times since then. The last time it wasn't all that good because he was excited and ready for action.

Saturday I put him in long lines before putting him to the cart. I also put him back in the snaffle bit. He has had plenty of time to forget the old ways of doing things and I want to bring him back around on a positive note.  I figured a quick ground driving 'refresher course' was in order before putting him to the cart, plus the work in long lines would let him blow off some steam so he wouldn't feel like racing around much.

We started with our bending and softening work and mostly I worked on letting go of the right rein. I have held it so long and so much, he leans on it as a crutch and doesn't seem to bend to the left as well. When we first started, he was soft to the left and the right side was the problem. Well I fixed that all right, but let the left side go. Now I am focusing a little more on the left and letting go of the right. Part of it is my own issue of holding onto him and not letting him do the work as asked.

When I let go of the right rein and had him trotting in a circle to the left, he kept ducking in on me. There was pressure on the left rein and nothing else to guide him so he drifted in closer unless I tugged the right rein, moved towards him and used my voice (get out there) to move him back out. He's getting the idea, but it may take him some time to get it etched solid in his brain.  Along the way I just have to remember to keep things steady and not let the right side get too stiff and unresponsive again. I have to remind myself NOT to hang on to the left rein all of the time like I did the right one. (I hope this carries over to my riding as well!)

When I was done with the long line work I put Kat to the cart and off we went at a walk. We went thru his paces and he did everything as he should. I didn't push for too much as I don't want him working up a sweat and needing to be rinsed. The weather has turned and I don't want to hose him off and leave him wet and cold. He has also gotten a bit pudgy too, so in all fairness, I let him ease back into it. He did try to canter once or twice, but wasn't getting crazy stupid about it and came right back down in a stride or two.  At the end I let him do a few 'victory laps' and he enjoyed it.  You could tell he was doing the "Happy Dance" in his head.