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April 17, 2013: Little Horse, Big Plans

Goodness gracious. Yesterday morning I had a good yoga session. My classmates and I learned that Dori (the instructor) had over the weekend been to a yoga class where she had come to some important self-realizations. (Imagine it, your yoga instructor having a yoga instructor!) One of the most important realizations was that core work should include the thoracic area, not just the abdominal area. This, coincidently, was exactly what I also needed to hear. I tend (for example) to stiffen and fall forward when I ride. I need to instead have my building blocks in order. The thoracic area is one of these building blocks.

Yoga Studio
Yoga Studio

In the late afternoon I took Raudi out, first using Siggi as the pony horse. Both enjoyed this, it was like I was not even there. Then I took her out alone. Raudi started out sluggish. I wacked her a few times with the crop and she swished her tail and attempted to turn back in the direction of home. I did not start out using the clicker because I wanted to instead adhere to the ten rules of shaping, one of the foremost being one shape at a time.

Maybe this was not such a good idea. Maybe best to at first reward forward motion of any kind. Well, Raudi picked up the pace a bit and I clicked, using my tongue, and like the day before, the little light bulb went off above her head. I then had no problem getting her to trot – we did trot/canter transitions all the way home. What Raudi was (again) attempting to teach me is that non-adversarial teaching methods work. Yes, follow the path of least resistance. And keep working at making the physical/mental horse-rider connection.

This is so very different than the way most big horse clinicians work. It seems to me that much of it involves “correcting” what appears to be off. What you see is what needs to be fixed. Right then and there. I’m of the mind that clinics need to be considered to be just one piece of the puzzle.

Here’s what I did with Raudi: I ponied her all winter with Signy, who maintains a trot. I did body work. I got a new saddle. And here’s what I’m going to do with her. I’m going to alternate riding and ponying her, continuing to use Signy. I’ll ride her on the homeward portion of our ride, so that she gets the idea I like her to be energized. In time, we’ll work over poles and around cones in the driveway. All this before heading out on the trail. This, in absence of an instructor who might work with us.

This is Raudi. What about me? Going to keep going to yoga, and maybe start doing a home practice. I just wrote down a long list of things that I’d like to see happen. I will pull one out a day and then either act, or give the matter more thought. I feel absurd even writing this down. But I’m going to do it. Wait, okay, so I took the list and I made a few calls. We’ll see what happens.

Today, this is what’s important. Going to first ride Signy and pony Raudi. Then ride
Raudi and pony Signy. This way, Raudi will have it reinforced that when ridden, she should be energetic and forward moving.

Next: 108. 4/18/13: Just Another day at the Okay Corral