Monday, October 12, 2015

Roscoe's First Lesson

After postponing due to the tropical storm last Saturday, Roscoe and I finally managed to have a lesson. I was torn because my instructor is my farrier's wife and she decided to ride with him when he came to the barn. We do the lesson while he works, all good right? Not quite. Normally I pull shoes and then clinch and finish the shoes, so doing a lesson would take me away from that. My farrier takes about $50 off my bill when I help, so I needed to be able to still do my part. So I agreed to the lesson if the horses would be okay in the stall until I could finish them. My farrier said that would work and the lesson was on.
I pulled Dottie and DaVinci's shoes before getting Roscoe ready. They were in stalls ready for my farrier as we headed down to the arena. My farrier told Mom to go watch the lesson since he could handle the shoeing. Of course little did we know the other red boy would cause some havoc. Comrade decided to open Dottie's door, so my poor farrier had to get two horses out of the stall before he could get to Dottie. So he also ended up finishing her completely since he did not want her outside with raised clinches. Bless him, he never even came to get Mom.

Meanwhile, Roscoe and I were going through our paces. We started at the walk. She told me to make sure he was active, not just over stepping. Then she had me start adding halts. I explained about his recent loss of forward. She said that green horses started as 3yr olds start out gung ho, but as 4 yr olds decide to begin to test the boundaries. My battles are just beginning. Hopefully with occasional lessons I can win.
Roscoe did not understand why he could not socialize with her when clearly she was talking to him. Moving on to trot, his lack of straightness was apparent. We also had to figure out a working pace for him. Soon she noticed that his bit was hanging a bit too low. Roscoe even had his tongue over the bit. So she raised the bit and he was happier. Not straighter though. I don't think we managed even one straight line. I have to remember to maintain contact and boundaries, but if he makes mistakes, correct and forget.

Next we did a series of baby lateral exercises. Starting with turn on the forehand. She helped us work through the movement. For me the use of taps versus steady pressure was good advice. The time it took for Roscoe to figure things out was less and less each time. She helped with turn on the haunches, a couple steps at a time. Roscoe's shoulders are a problem area. The last was side pass. Surprisingly, we actually did a few steps once he got the jist of it. I was really amazed at how Roscoe took the time to think about what she or I was asking before reacting.

We did have a moment of distracted stallion when another horse walked by the arena, but a turn on the forehand helped regain his attention. Well, then she said "How about canter?" and I said "No I don't think he is there today." Of course she was like ok we shall canter. And we headed towards the right. The last time I asked him to canter, he wanted to travel right but canter left. So she helped me set him up and the transition was better and it was the correct lead. Around the short end where he was bulging his shoulder, she had me slightly counter bend him to keep his balance. Such a small movement that made a big difference. The left lead was rougher and not a great transition. She had me get after him, then forgive and move on.

Overall the lesson was positive and I have lots of homework. She said there was so much she wanted to say. I almost felt bad because I can only afford one lesson a month and she seemed to want to make the most of the time.
My take aways:
1. Make sure he is active, not just over stepping
2. Straight, lots of straight practice
3. Soft, but solid contact
4. Tap with the leg for lateral so he can't lean into the pressure
5. He can drop his head, but not too low
6. He will have more tests for me
7. Sit light for downward transitions to help discourage hollowing

So, I am going to share the videos. Fair warning they are kind of crazy. My mom got distracted by watching and forgot to follow or got lost zooming.

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