Saturday, March 20, 2010, was a fun day at the ISC. I normally start with the online games then the liberty and finally the freestyle/timed events. I decided to try something different this time and when I unloaded Renegade I tacked him up so we were ready to ride. I then did a short warm up online while on the way to the freestyle/timed events. I mounted up and after checking my brakes (lateral flexion) we entered the arena to do the barrel pattern. It was fun but I learned I need to do ALOT more riding over the spring and summer!! We need to work on getting a better bend/more softness in Renegade's body so our circles get better and better.
The need for more freestyle practice also showed up in our weave pattern. Again, Renegade was not following my focus and I was allowing him to change mine!! I really need to get better at not letting him change the game/change my focus. Once I started practicing some leadership in the saddle, Renegade became more interested in following my focus rather than following his own ideas!!
Another key ingredient to my leadership in the saddle is my reluctance to use an effective phase 4 (I was afraid of Renegade's reaction). Well, I used an effective phase 4 twice on Saturday and was prepared for his response (which was to quickly go in the direction I was focusing on LOL!!). He kind of squirted in that direction but I was sitting deep so I stayed with him. Now I know I can ride that so look out pony boy...we're going to be working on focus, focus, focus and not letting you change it LOL!!!
Thanks to Jake and Gary at the ISC I have a much better idea on how to accomplish that. Thanks guys!!! And thanks Jake for showing me what's possible!!
The water play the past two Saturdays really paid off today when Renegade crossed the stream with NO hesitation. He walked right in, took a long drink, then walked up the stream for a while until I asked him out. Then we went to the bride and I yo-yo'd him over the bridge backwards. Good practice for his zone 5 issues and he did great, trusting me to not get him in to trouble. He also needed to stay fairly straight so he didn't fall off over the side. He did look back once but kept his eyes and ears on me for direction!!
Our new challenge for the week was a squeeze game through the gate. He normally doesn't have a problem with gates that are fully open but this one was partially closed and he wanted to squirt through once we got past zone 3. We spent a bit of time at the gate and with the help of my GREAT friend Terri, doing yo-yo's he could finally stop half way through and rest. It was a big improvement for Renegade so I decided to quit while I was ahead (so unlike me...I tend to overdo and then regret it LOL!! but I've been working on that). And thanks to Terri, I'm starting to connect so many more dots!!!
I think all this play and exposure, I'm changing where I want to go in my horsemanship. I used to think I'd be happy just being safe with my horse but now I realize I want so much more than that, I want to be better than that. I really want to take my horsemanship to the next level. I want excellence in all 4 savvys and I want to start with freestyle. I now need to sit down and map out my stragegy for the next several months: which patterns to play with and getting better/faster/lighter responses.