Saturday, May 19, 2012

Leadership In The Saddle Starts On The Ground!

I haven't been playing with Renegade much lately as I've been developing my Mustang mare, America, but when I went to the pasture this afternoon with the intention of getting America, Renegade came to me from way across the pasture at a trot and was nickering as he got closer to me. He WANTED to be picked so, after greeting him and giving him some rubs and scratches, I offered the halter and he practically stuck his nose in it. We walked together to another pasture and when we started playing, Renegade started changing the games. Being an LBE, he's sometimes extremely playful and that was the case this afternoon. He took off on me a couple of times by tipping his nose to the outside, throwing his shoulder into the rope and off he went. The thing was, he would come right back so I know it was just a game to him. I changed things up a bit, asking for some changes of direction by doing "falling leaf". This way I could reinforce controlling his nose and shoulder; it worked like a charm and we eventually had some really nice canter circles and figure 8's. This was important because I planned on riding Renegade after our online warm-up and working on those two things along with the weave.

I saddled up and headed to the round pen. After doing pre-flight checks, I mounted up and off we went at the walk. Renegade was a bit "sluggish" so I decided to play with our go button. Turns out our session was focused around this through walk, trot, and canter. I set a goal of transitions on phase 2 or less and using quicker phases to get snappier responses. Oh what fun we had!! At the end of the session, Renegade was offering walk, trot, and canter, and stop transitions on phase two or less. I was estatic and Renegade was doing lots of licking and chewing.

A couple of times, when asking for canter transitions, Renegade was headed towards running my knees into the panels (he's done it before and it's his way of changing the game and my focus). Since he would head nose first to the rail then run my knee into the panel, I decided to either turn him into or away from the fence and do a circle or change direction and hustle him back to the rail. It worked like a charm...three repetitions and he decided to follow my was easier!!

Interestingly, by upping my leadership in the saddle, once I dismounted and unsaddled Renegade, he really wanted to stick with me and tonight, while we were hanging out, he was nibbling grass near by but checking in with me frequently. He moved off about 6 feet and decided to lay down and roll. I moved over to him and while he was down, rubbed on him for a couple of minutes and gave him a cookie. He stayed down for a couple more minutes, then got up. Renegade generally doesn't stay down when I approach him but something was different tonight and I love it!!

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