Last Thursday morning Spring Song had a lesson with Alex Reinfels. She was tossing her head. This is something she did when the cap on her tooth was irritating her. She hasn’t done it for a while. Alex kept a close eye on her and figured out that she’s playing with her tongue on the bit. He said when we find the right bit, she’ll be fine.
He explained (and I’ve already forgotten all the details) how tapping on the outside shoulder when that hoof hits the ground along with any aids I’ve have taught the horse for the canter (at liberty for example I say, “can….TER”) will help the horse strike off onto the correct lead. We did this from the walk and from the trot. She understood it clearly. The canter to the right was not her usual unbalanced mess which is almost always FAST. It was amazing to sit calmly on her and quietly ask for and get the canter. Her canter was very easy to sit. My most recent cantering experiences (on Zelador and on Zeloso) are quite different. When I rode Zeloso his canter was at the stage where he was covering a huge amount of ground in one stride. Zelador was uncomfortable from ulcers and would either RUSH to the left or not easily pick up the lead to the right (the horse’s stomach is on the right side). With Zeloso the vision of cantering a twenty metre circle was never crystal clear! With Spring Song I can see a twenty metre circle in our near future!
For her second outing we toured around the farm. We went into the round pen and walked here and there. We also went to the small paddock on the south side of the lower barn. Then to the front paddock where one horse spends the morning and another horse enjoys the afternoon. This made for interesting poop piles and their accompanying smells. I had her off lead in all three areas. In the front there’s a marsh that tapers to a narrow wet spot, then leaves the paddock under the fence along the 15th Sideroad. I walked around the marsh and she followed me. Just before I crossed the wet area I gave her a small piece of a stud muffin. She came happily through the “ditch” which has TALL vegetation that brushed against her. She received another piece of a stud muffin. I walked around a bit and approached the ditch from the side we’d exited from. She followed me through the wet stuff.
I’ve seen three other horses attempting to cross that ditch, all were under saddle. Pax wasn’t amused! Zeloso thought it was a silly idea and Zelador was quite pleased to do it. I don’t know if any of them would have followed me at liberty. I’m very proud of Miss Spring Song!
Friday Sue Parker came to Winsong Farm. We took Spring Song and Zelador to the arena. This is the third time we’ve asked Zelador to demonstrate something to the filly. He takes this job very seriously. He demonstrated the Spanish Walk, the piaffe, sitting on a bean bag and the jumping sequence Spring Song needs to do at liberty.
We set up a barrier to place Spring Song behind (very much like the barrier we create when we have a fundraiser. Zelador was a complete gentleman and did not go to play with the filly. He was at liberty and stayed with me for the demonstrations.
I placed the jump at the lowest blok level. He and I walked together over the jump, turned right, back over the jump, turned left and halted before the jump. We did this twice. Then I stepped to the side and Zelador did the sequence without me moving with him.
Now it was Spring Song’s turn. I did keep her on the lead line. She did everything nicely.
After Zelador did the Spanish Walk Sue commented, “When he demonstrates for Spring Song he lifts both front legs very high. Normally he lifts one a bit higher than the other. He does like showing her how to do it.”
Spring Song figured out that the Spanish Walk involves the hind legs last weekend. Today after watching Zelador she was pretty much perfect! Amazing! Allen Pogue (www.imagineahorse.com) always says the horses learn by watching each other and he’s right!
Spring Song improved her piaffe, too. She’s at the stage where she alternately lifts her hind legs. Allen Pogue told me about this approach. He has dvds by Albert Ostermaier including one on teaching the piaffe and another on teaching the passage which I follow quite closely.
This is the second time we’ve presented the bean bag to her. Last time she wasn’t comfortable placing both hind legs against the bean bag. Today this was easy for her. The next step is for the horse to move the front legs closer to the hind legs. She did this. The next step is to lean into the bean bag. She did this! We stopped and told her she was wonderful! Next session we’ll once again call on Zelador to demonstrate movements and I wouldn’t be surprised if Spring Song came really close to sitting on the bean bag.
I just received a DVDof the Cowboy Dressage tests. I’m looking forward to analyzing them. Once I figure out all the movements I’ll turn to Zelador to teach me how to ride them, then I’ll relay that information to Spring Song.