Saturday, September 25, 2010

Advancing Liberty Workshop with Berin MacFarlane 09/25/10

Advancing Liberty Workshop with Berin MacFarlane 09/25/10
Berin started everyone out online, checking the 7 games and whether our horse was acting like a partner. It’s important to also check the quality of the games: is my horse light and responsive, is there slack in my rope, am I still getting opposition reflexes, does my horse want to be with me or leave at the first opportunity? Get the connection online before going off-line!!
Observe, Remember, Compare: observe what you are doing, remember what you get, compare results
Think in different lengths of rope vs. 12’, 22’, 45’…even a 45’ can be 38-3/4’ if need be
Building positive patterns online to establish communication and foundation that will transfer to liberty. Liberty is not to prove what we can do with our horses, it’s to show how well we’ve prepared online.
Allow vs. let = awareness: if we allow rather than let it implies an awareness of what we are doing in each moment, each action/interaction with our horse.
Positive reflexes vs. opposition reflex = yield (less that 4 oz., light, polite): positive reflexes are light, responsive, less than 4 oz. and yields are positive reflexes indicating confidence and acceptance. Opposition reflexes indicate horse has not accepted or doesn’t have confidence in what you are doing.
Really good hq yield = better everything else: the better your hq yields are the better everything else will be at liberty.
Pay attention to quality of everything while warming up online: softness, lightness, acceptance, confidence, positive reflexes, your phases, consistency. Remember, life up is first phase.
Do point to point to get consistency first before doing downward transitions (you will end up in zone 3-4). This is to establish impulsion (forward, controlled movement) because without impulsion you won’t get much else. You can tell when your getting good impulsion…you will start ending up in zones 3 or 4. Beware adding too much variety or downward transitions too soon or you’ll lose impulsion and cause confusion, get consistency at the point to point first.
Build at walk, get consistent, get good in all zones then can move to trot, get consistent, get good in all zones, then canter…once that’s going well then increase distances. When working in close, be safe especially if your horse gets exuberant…don’t get kicked if they “give you the hoof”!!! Safety first!!
Life up, Life down: be aware of phases, for starting or stopping it’s life up or life down as first phase!!
For a Smooth COD Online:
rope in outside hand
cs in inside hand
prepare for turn: swap hands passing cs UNDER rope (rope to inside hand, cs to outside hand)
slide stick back to hq
yield hq, draw fq around
be ready to direct on other side
Hang in there a little bit longer for consistency: sometimes we get bored and want to add or change things to keep it interesting but the horse needs us to stay with something a little longer to help them really “get” it. Look for signs of relaxation: stretching, blowing out, head down, softness, etc.
Positional Truth: always be aware of body position and what your asking for: disengage hq = game over and come in, partial disengage = bring your eyes to me, be ready for something else, shoulders perpendicular to rail = helps horse stay straight and I’m not pushing him into or pulling him off the rail.
Quality online
Observe, Remember, Compare
Think in different lengths of rope
Building positive patterns online
Allow vs. let
Positive reflexes vs. opposition
Confidence and acceptance
Really good hq yield
Life up, life down is first phase
Consistency first
Safety first
A smooth COD online
Hang in there
Positional Truth

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Introducing a Soft Feel Workshop w/Berin MacFarlane 09/11/10

Introducing a Soft Feel Workshop w/Berin MacFarlane 09/11/10
Started the workshop off by saddling up our horses then out to the playground to warm up a bit, move them around a bit, then a few minutes of quiet time practicing having horses stay out behind us, staying put and not creeping up on us while Berin covered the concepts of the workshop with us. Then Berin asked us to observe a moment of silence for the victims of 9/11.
Berin had us play a bit more online, then had us mount up and FTR (in both directions) at a walk until our horses were relaxed and acting like partners, maintaining gait and direction on a loose rein. Once that was going well, we moved into trotting FTR until horses were following the pattern. Once FTR at trot was going smoothly and horses could maintain gait, direction, and impulsion Berin had us begin introducing a “soft feel” on the reins.
To introduce the soft feel we had to move our arms in an exaggerated way, like when swimming: arm up and over at the shoulder then down in an overhand motion to the reins close to the mane then combing the reins in an upward motion with a bit of “drag” on the reins. We repeated this pattern, alternating arms/hands until we felt our horses give a little bit. Once our horse gave a bit, then we were to let loose of them (stop combing the reins) and just follow the rail for a while – give them a release!! The longer it took for them to give…the longer the release, then start again. If your horse wants to come off the rail, make sure you’re not causing it (sitting crookedly, putting more drag on one rein than the other, etc.). If you need to put them back on the rail, just increase the drag on that rein for a bit…do it sooner rather than later…when you first feel them start to drift off the rail!!
Berin said quality was not important right now, that all we were looking for was the slightest try. He said some horses might go behind the vertical and others might root their noses out a bit but that was o.k. for now as long as we were getting a bit of a downward give. He also said we might feel our horses raise their back a little as they stretch down and into the bit and that’s what we want…it’s a GOOD thing!! The other thing Berin said was o.k. is if we felt our horse pull on the reins a bit, not a jerk the reins out of our hands pull, but a pull as in them taking up contact with the bit, it will be more gentle…NOT a jerk!!
When you start combing, make it fluid and alternate arms in one continuous fluid movement. When you are almost done combing with one arm/hand, make sure you are ready with your other arm/hand to take up the combing so it’s continuous and not jerky or so that you are not giving a release with each change of hands. Make sure you put enough “drag” on the reins when combing, especially in the beginning until the horse gets the idea. We are exaggerating to teach at this point, refining it comes later.
Berin recommended doing this exercise in the confidence snaffle. He said it’s possible to teach it in the cradle but it makes it more difficult and takes longer, the snaffle is easier and they get the idea quicker. He also said this exercise is better done at the trot…your horse must have good impulsion before beginning to teach this, if not, they will keep stopping with the pressure. Also…the trot is good for us because we have time to think about what we are doing and we should all be pretty good at FTR at trot by now!!
Terri added.... I remember.....More drag when the horse is having difficulty and less or very light drag when he is getting the idea but you just want them to maintain it a little longer.
Also we have to sightly lift out of the saddle and round our backs and shoulders the way we want them to stretch as we are combing the reins in the freestyle swim motion. Soreness might set in the next day for both us and the horse as we are all learning to use our bodies differently.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Carrot Stick Riding Workshop with Berin MacFarlane 07/03/10

Carrot Stick Riding Workshop with Berin MacFarlane 07/03/10
Saddle and warm up your horse
Do three cinching
Is horse acting like a partner? If yes, go ahead and mount. If no, continue warm up
Phases for carrot stick: out to the side at 90 degrees, out to the side at 45 degrees big overhand circles, closer to zone 1 small overhand circles, touch zone 1
When using two carrot sticks make sure to only use one at a time – DON’T MICRO-MANAGE by holding your horse’s zone 1 between the two sticks.
After using carrot stick, make sure to go back to neutral and do lots of friendly
Use the reins if necessary to reinforce/for control, but try to leave them alone
Make sure your friendly game with carrot stick is good in all zones, rubbing, swinging, tapping noises, etc.
Check lateral flexion in both directions
While doing FTR you can pass carrot stick back and forth between your hands to get comfortable with tossing it, handling it, feeling it, knowing where it is, etc.
Carry carrot stick in neutral (on shoulder or straight up), FTR at a walk and when that’s going well, stop riding, ask for flex towards fence using phases
Horse should flex zone 1 toward fence and stop. The idea is to just flex zone 1 but if horse turns body that’s o.k. for now. Eventually just want zone 1 to flex without moving feet.
When FTR and flexing to stop is going well at walk then can try trot then canter.
Eventually add in a barrel in the corners, FTR at trot, when get to barrel slow to a walk, come off the rail and circle the barrel, come back to the rail and leave at a trot. Do the same at each barrel and do it in both directions. This is beginning to build for simple lead changes. If at canter, come down to trot, circle barrel, come back to the rail and leave at the canter.
Do weaves in both directions at walk, trot, canter
For Renegade, long lines to build impulsion, not a lot of circles – they stall him out
While doing long lines, point to point, when we arrive at the target point, give him a long rest
If Renegade dives for grass, reach carrot stick over shoulder and tap him on the bum, don’t change my focus (so don’t look back at his bum…get eyes in the back of my head!!) – keep my focus and keep it strong!!