Finally Summer!

Good morning, Friends!

Wow, a long Winter’s nap we had!  While I was glad to have gotten an early start to the season tune-up in February, the long, overcast days had me setting aside my motivation for blogging, so here I am, catching up my progress!

With preparation started, Whiskey and I attended the Brandi Lyons Horsemanship clinic, a four day “vacation” to reconnect and push progress further.  I had not been on Whiskey for a year, and, while I live with him at home, our progress got sidelined with Smokey and her progress!

Settling in for clinicDuring tune-up preparation at Angela Tanner’s, a certified Brandi Lyons instructor, Whiskey was taught the hip over for mounting up.  I love this for focus!  He was also started on the lay down.  Horsemanship has evolved over the years to encompass these skills for a well rounded horse and partnership.  These skills are a combination of cues that are taught and then combined.  For example, the lay down starts with the head down cue given in the saddle.  This has taught both Smokey and Whiskey to ride with a loose rein.  Power steering comes from taking up one side or the other rein, using the outside leg with the inside rein for your directional aid.

Another “new” skill is the shoulder over.  Whiskey and I need to work on this for better trot-to-canter transitions on a circle.  He needs this for his Cowboy Dressage, but more importantly, for control of his front end and feet.

Shoulder over starts on the ground after basic bridle work is started, and progresses to the saddle.  Whiskey and I did a lot of this in clinic.

As mentioned, while Whiskey is a seasoned show horse, it seemed to be a trigger to be at a “new” arena!  He was quite ramped up at the start of the clinic!  And to be fair, I had not taken him anywhere for a year, except for Angela Tanner’s facility, where he had a chance to relax in the new environment!  My goal is to have him be relaxed no matter where we may find ourselves!

Because of his excitement, I remained on the ground doing bridlework for warm-up on Day One of the clinic.  Everyone else was mounted up, even though their horses were also displaying signs of being somewhere new!  However, I saw no need to be in the saddle until things calmed down and we could be better focused!

After observing everyone, Brandi had a few words for each of us.  She very graciously complemented me in staying on the ground under the “pressure” of everyone else being mounted.  I’m willing to do what my horse needs and seems appropriate at any given moment.  We all have to deal with the horse that presents right here, right now!  By the end of the day, I was in the saddle and we were on our way!

Terri

 

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Reconnect With Whiskey

“No heaven can heaven be, if a horse isn’t there to welcome me.”

~Author Unknown

Snow and ice and frigid temperatures!  But. . . .it is February, the time we want to be at the arena tuning up!  We’ll be ready as soon as it melts off!

I’m reconnecting with Whiskey after a season off.  Work and life distractions, let’s sweep what we can under the carpet and get back at it!

Whiskey has been in the barn at Angela Tanner’s for a couple of weeks before I started integrating with him.  I’ve started with lesson time, and also participated in a Saturday four hour workshop.

It starts with the bridlework.  Rein hand to your buckle, other hand with the dressage whip as a MOTIVATOR!  To TAP the side of the horse, like a TICKLE!  NOT a stick, NOT a whip.  If Angela sees you be too heavy handed, inadvertently of course, she will come over and remind you!  I cluck to Whiskey for the forward cue, and only lightly tap if needed.  It doesn’t take long for Whiskey to move forward with the verbal cue only.

From bridlework, we ask for a disengagement, and for Whiskey, wait until he relaxes his neck and head, then ask for a back, with a soft rein.  Say “whoa” and release.  Relax.

Relaxation is the key ingredient for Whiskey.  While he was bred to carry his head high, he is after all, an American Saddlebred, I am helping him be relaxed in his work and carry himself in a relaxed frame.  Each horse has his own translation of relaxed frame, as it applies to their conformation.  Find where this is for your horse! That is my goal for him.

Continuing the bridlework, we add the shoulder over.  Take five steps straight, then take five steps promoting the shoulder over.  I turn my body to an 11:00 position, and Whiskey needs to angle over using his shoulder to move away from me.  This will translate into the saddle.  I repeat both sides, using the 1:00 position alternately.  Often!

Angela comes to check in.  She reminds me to not lean on Whiskey, as this creates brace.  He needs to step out of my way and move his shoulder over.  Whiskey’s right side, or shoulder over to the left, is not as smooth, so we work on that side often, until it becomes as easy as the left side, or shoulder over to the right.

Whiskey and I also practice our relaxation at the mounting block.  There is a big wooden one in the arena.  We have been practicing our hip over, for easy line-up.  Whiskey is becoming nice and relaxed with this!  This is a new skill for him, and it’s lots of fun to learn new skills together!

How have you started your season tune-up?  I’d love to know!

Terri

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