Friday, April 15, 2016

Achieving A Soft Feel

"They like what they do.  That's important."

Betty Staley, 7 Clinics with Buck Brannaman



Lessons are great, and I love them, but time alone with Leah allows me to tune into her and only her.  And, that deepens our relationship.

Today, I watched a section on Disc 3 of, 7 Clinics with Buck Brannaman, before I went out to ride Leah.  It was "Achieving a Soft Feel."  There were several things that impressed me, in that section, besides the timing of the releases:

1.) It should be fun for the horse, 

2.) Horses don't like trainers and we shouldn't aspire to be one.  We should aspire to be horsewomen (men), 

3.)  It's a dance. (So, try not to step on your partner's feet!)

Our dance today started out a little funky.  First off, while bending her head around, she started to move her feet.  I held the pressure on the rein steady until she stopped, but it took her about 2 or 3 minutes.  I was hoping she'd stop on her own, but I did end up saying, Whoa, real nice to her, and that's when she stopped.  It taught me something about Leah and myself--we're a verbal duo.  Good, bad, or otherwise, I'm going to start talking to her more.

From the funky, twirling dance, we moved to the walk.  Our next door neighbors have a bunch of sheep and baby lambs, so she wanted to look over at them.  What helped us was something my instructor taught me, always be "opening doors and walking through". It's just a matter of, "Here's a door, let's walk through.  Here's another door, let's walk through."  It gets her mind off the thing and onto the job.  

The last thing we did was trotting, and it was hard for me to get the softness I was hoping for because she and I haven't fully come together in our understanding, but I was able to get her to a pretty steady speed that was easy to post, and have her maintain it for half way around the arena.  On the side with the sheep, she'd speed up, so I did the going through doors trick, at the trot, and that helped her regulate.  We did a lot of trot work, and she started to show signs of fatigue, so we ended on a good note.

At one point, about half way through, she did act like she might stop and resist, I could feel her locking up and she tossed her head at the trot, but I gave her a gentle squeeze, and she kept going forward.  That was much better than what she did at our lesson on Tuesday.  I was PROUD of her!!

Towards the end of our time, I asked her to walk again and, as we walked, I petted her neck, and bragged her up. She seemed pretty content and proud of herself...and I think that's a good way to get to liking what she does.  I loved it!


11 comments:

  1. Yay for a good ride! I love the dance analogy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've heard that analogy many times, but today it clicked for me.

      Delete
  2. Well that post made me grin!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sounds like a very productive ride! I really think they understand some talk and incorporate it into my rides with the cues. And I also give mane rubs and let them know how pleased I am with their progress. I don't know if it means much to them but I figure it can't hurt and I feel it's an interaction between us. Blue doesn't seem to care because he's just too too cool of a dude but Dusty actually used to preen when I praised her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Leah seemed to really relax under the praise. I think, being so green, she doesn't really know when she's done something right, and that worries her. When I did the praising and rubbing of her neck, she seemed to be relieved that she had made me happy. I did praise her a lot throughout, too, so it may also have been the fact that we were walking and not trotting. :) I see why you loved Dusty so much, it's nice to get that reaction.

      Delete
  4. Yes, you definitely need those quiet times with just you and the horse. An instructor on the ground can see things that the rider can't, but the rider can feel things that the instructor can't see, so there has to be a balance. Pretty much every time that I stopped taking equitation lessons, it was because I felt like I needed more time to just think for myself when riding.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very true. The horse/rider relationship is always unique. Now that the weather is getting better, I should have more independent rides with Leah and that will also help me discover what we need to work on during our lessons.

      Delete
  5. Whoa, green grass AND dandelions already?! *jelly*

    I think you hit a nail on the head when you noticed that your partnership with Leah requires a lot of verbal cues & praise (though not all horses do). A spoken word can be a very clear & consistent cue that (delivered correctly) is just as good as any other training marker (such as a clicker, for instance).
    Plus, some horses just really ping off the sound of our voices.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I agree, some horses need it more than others. I would have liked for her to have decided to stop on her own, but she needed that extra verbal cue and I needed to stop going in circles. She has a tendency to work herself up and then she stops thinking clearly. When she's nervous, she wants to move. So, if verbal cues get her thinking, I'm going to start reinforcing them.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hello,
    You may want to go to McGinnis Meadows Cattle and Guest Ranch located near Libby, MT. Shayne Jackson is the instructor. He has helped Buck 300 plus times during the clinics. Buck actually comes to the McGinnis Ranch and holds a clinic there. Do a google search for McGinnis Meadows Cattle and Guest Ranch for more info.

    ReplyDelete

Please feel welcome to join our discussion--tell us about your own thoughts and experiences.