long, low, loose and forward
There's a schooling dressage show next Saturday. When the date was finally set, I admit I rather hoped to take two horses and ride intro B and Training 1 or 2. But you know this training other people's horses thing, it isn't a straight line. Ok, so training horses at all isn't a straight line, but trying to work out what is best for the horse, while working toward your training goals, while working inside your own parameters and the owner's parameters. You have to ride the horse you have today and yet work toward the horse you want tomorrow, and frankly you don't always know who they want this horse to be, and you don't always know what this horse is capable of anyway.
Anyway. Jin. You know, I would have hoped she'd have been more advanced by now. But she isn't. Whether that means I'm not any good or not, I am not sure. I do know that in the process, I'm at least not hurting her. So there's that. I'm also being stretched, learning, trying things, so there's that too.
I'd pretty much already given up the idea of being able to ride them both in the show because, well, because. And Jin wasn't suddenly getting a canter so even intro C was out. And a week out Jin's owner says, "If you think she can do it, you can show her." Well, of course I think she can do it. I don't know whether she WILL or not, but she can. And I take her up to the arena with the specific idea in mind to ride through A and B just to test us.
However, on the first attempt at that there are horse eating chairs sitting outside of the arena and riding the horse I have today meant that it was an accomplishment just to eventually walk around the arena on a long rein almost but not completely relaxed. And also an accomplishment to lead her to within 20 feet of those threatening plastic chairs. So that's what we did.
I wondered the next day if it would be different. The tarps the chairs had been on were still there but at least the chairs were gone. It was worth a look but not the flat out right brain introvert panic of the night before. We went in the arena and it was fine. After working some with another horse and rider, I rode those two tests. Intro A went fine, but it is rather . . . ummm, boring. I saluted for intro B, went for the corner and immediately got her kick out, piss ant, I don't want to do this attitude showing. To which I responded first with a firm "no". And maybe a little bit of, oh-you-want-to-kick?-I'll-give-you-something-to-kick-about.-I-didn't-think-you-wanted-to-kick. But then I loosed the reins completely, to the buckle, and asked her just to trot forward, because when she does her little kick/buck thing, forward is what she so isn't doing in that moment. Completely around the arena a couple times with some circles both directions. And of course in doing that I also had time to think.
Yes, probably in thinking "dressage test" and "show" I had asked for more collection, more connection, that Jin can yet handle. She just isn't there yet. And in asking for that, I got that kick/buck for an answer. Which as I would have told my kids is an inappropriate response, but, ok, I understand. The answer here is that she can't kick/buck and I can't ask for that much collection and that forward will always be the right question and answer for now. I need to ask for connection, but softer, looser, never sacrificing forward. Not Pierre is wrong with two things: She doesn't need to be shorter, even for short periods of time, quite yet; and connection will come from the butt so that isn't enough trot for now -- what she needs is more forward, forward is always the answer, and that will eventually get us to canter. If he heard me say that he would probably say that is what he's been saying but it isn't.
Long Low Loose and Forward. If I can remember to do that, if I can ride that no matter if she's scared of the judges stand or whatever, long low loose and forward without too much driving leg either (dear right brain introvert you always have an escape! it just happens to be in front of you and it happens to be in the shape of this test) long low loose and forward and if she can stay as relaxed as she can stay under whatever her circumstances are that day, it'll be a good test for us.
Long low loose and forward is how success is defined this week.
Also, Parelli moments. Non-parelli-ites might wonder what all the equipment is for, why play with a pedestal. It's just circus sorts of tricks, after all. I mean, I thought those things so I would assume I'm not the only one. If the pedestal isn't in the arena now, I will usually put it there (and that ain't so easy) because I find that working with it just relaxes Jin in particular. The ball can do the same sort of thing -- I love it when both the ball and the pedestal are available to play with, and I find that I use them in the most serious "lessons", as a break, as a lesson, as a reward, as a change of pace -- but somehow they are more than these things too. Maybe horses just like being "circus" animals. Or maybe it is different enough for the human to really change things. I don't know, I just know that it is a real resource to be able to play with them. Anyway, Jin is now fairly good at getting both front feet on the pedestal with just an offer. Today I asked that she move her back feet up closer to the pedestal (in prep for eventually putting all four feet on at the same time). And she did of course. Just two steps, one with each rear foot. She gets a bit of confidence as a learner with each step.
Then we walked over those tarps on the way back to the barn.