On Friday, I had intentions of riding Bentley with Linda since Linda wasn’t able to ride at all over the weekend. I got out to the barn, brought him in and started grooming.
By the end of curry comb, I was starting to get pretty sore. After using the body brush, it was obvious that the pain in my back was going to be too much to ride. So I put Bentley in a stall and went to text Linda that I wasn’t going to ride.
Well she had got caught up in something and couldn’t ride that night either.
Since I had already gotten myself to the barn and I didn’t want to go home just yet, I brought Maverick in to do some easy (for me!) groundwork.
He was very good at playing follow the leader and would go forward, stop, and back along with me. I was very happy to see this! It makes things so much easier for me not just from a training perspective, but I also didnt have to use too much pressure that can hurt my back.
Once I had gotten to know this, I moved on to asking him to move sideways away from pressure. With my hand, I pressed lightly against his side. No reaction, so I gradually increased the pressure. At about half my top pressure, he started walking forward. Since it wasn’t the response I was looking for, I continued increasing pressure on his side while asking him to halt with his face. This was a lot harder than i thought it would be, since I am having difficulty with my left side. So I adapted this exercise to let him walk forward and ask for more of a leg yield by continuing the pressure on his side. As soon as he had the slightest criss cross I rewarded him.
Eventually we got it so I was using much less pressure to get the sideways movement, which made it easier for my back to prevent the forward movement. I wasn’t able to get much more than a shift sideways before the forward movement, but I was happy with the progress. I tried putting his nose into the wall, and it just seemed to make him uncomfortable by removing his escape route, so I dropped that idea.
I moved to the other side and the response was much quicker. He seems to be quite logical this way and can adapt one side to the other quite easily. Very happy with that!
From there, I started working with him in circles. I don’t think my body is ready to lunge quite yet, so I kept him in close where i could reach from his head to his side with only walking small circles myself. I asked him to move out from his side, allowing him to move forward, but keeping his head in towards me. For a while, it was pretty jagged as he figured out exactly what I was asking. Eventually he picked up the circle and was crossing his feet nicely. Only complaint still was that he was bending from the base of his neck and not through the rest of his body.
We worked both directions, once he had gotten the basics, I asked him to drop his head and try and flex a bit more. I was able to get him to flex a little more through the body but I could tell it was still very difficult and I couldn’t ask him to hold it for too long. So brief bend, reward of going straight, and ask again. We will certainly be doing more of this activity in the future!
So pleased with his progress, I called it a day, gave him a massage and turned him and Bentley (who had at that point finished his dinner and discovered that if he banged the stall door, it would swing out and back in what must have been a fun way, and was really bugging all the girls trying to groom) back out to the paddock.
A good day’s work!