Today was my first lesson with Cibolo. I decided that since Cibolo has felt a little distant that before the lesson, I'd do a focus exercise.
Usually I do two things I learned from a woman who almost bought Canyon from me over a year ago. I really picked up some good tips from her - she is a trainer that works with kids mostly, but is really keyed in with horses. She never uses bits and does amazing things on horseback. Here's her website.
Anyway, she told me to check your horses brakes and willingness with two tests. One, take a fingertip and pull down on your horse's halter below their head, near the lead rope. Your horse should easily lower it's head to just the slightest pressure . Do it from each side.
Second, back your horse from the ground with a fingertip to the chest/front shoulder. You should be able back the horse by only pointing to the chest.
So I always, always, do both tests on any horse I ride. I've found that sometimes it's clear that my horse isn't very responsive and needs some ground work before moving on.
But sometimes groundwork isn't quite the right thing. Sometimes its something else. The only way I can explain it is that the connection is just missing. And ordering Cibolo around in circles doesn't always bring the connection.
But so far, the focus exercise does bring him around. Today I tried the same thing I did yesterday. Just a little wiggle. It took far less to regain and retain his focus. And when I got it back, it was amazing. I felt that connection again. In my mind I think "When you look at me, there is peace."
It works. He actually ends up dropping his head into my lap, practically.
So it was a great time for my first lesson.
We worked on a few things on my list. One was working on turns. I couldn't tell how I was messing up my signals to Cibolo, but something was definitely off. He kept side passing. Which is darn ironic, don't you think?
So for an hour the trainer helped me figure out what was going wrong. As it always is, I was missing one cue to keep him from side passing - a little bump on the outside leg.
It was great - he was flexing into the turns. It went so well I decided to try this exercise from John Lyons. It was fantastic. Cibolo floated his hindquarters over as I worked on "steering the tail."
Then it was time from my nemesis. POSTING.
I can't two step and I can't post.
But I did today.
Okay, it was twice and for about 15 "posts" total. But I finally felt what it's suppose to feel like. I think I can find the rhythm again with practice.
Then, to top it all off, Sierra and I loaded both Cibolo AND Lily. By our selves.
I loaded Cibolo fine, but I wasn't really up to trying Lily. But the trainer insisted. Darn trainers. They take this whole "teaching" thing a little serious, you know?
With Sierra at the window and with some persistent tapping Lily was in. And then I closed the door!
I almost passed out I was so amazed.
For my next trick I'm winning the lottery. :)