Full of Pluses
Patrice Edwards was delighted with Tucker's progress. She said his whole musculature had changed and all that's left are two mucles at the base of his neck that should change as he learns to carry himself and his slightly sensitive sides--still some tightness there.
Evidently, I have been riding him right. Yea!
She was also pretty complimentary of my seat, posture, etc, although I need to learn to make my legs "softer" on the inside to accomodate my sensitive horse and to keep my elbow "heavy" and down to maintain the proper kind of contact. As well, with all of this, I have to put my seat where Tucker will have to carry me.
It's a lot to think about, but we're getting to the finer points of developing a horse here, so I can get a handle on it all.
We did a ton of shoulder-in work, getting me to position him correctly by positioning myself correctly so he had to carry me on his inside hind leg. One of the exercises consisted of shoulder-in, go straight in the direction of the shoulders, back to shoulder in, etc. doing only about three strides in each position.
We discussed Tucker's stopping, and Patrice said she has seen many horses like him. They are very sensitive souls, with a bit of "feral" blood in them which makes them very sure of themselves and not the kind of horses who can be forced into things. They will be willing partners as long as the rider is fair with them. They need to understand what the rider wants them to do and they need to be "asked" rather than "told." She said when you ride a horse like that you need to "prepare, prepare, prepare." When I told her that as a youngster, Tucker had reacted to my kicking him forward with an explosive buck and then told the animal communicator that it was because I had be "rude," she said, "Exactly. You can kick him when it's the right time, but not to force him to do something." Curious that when I spoke to Tucker the last time and said I might have to send him to another trainer, he insisted that force was not a good method of training.
Patrice thinks some of the stopping is due to that resentment--which I already figured out since it happens if I overcorrect--, some due to confusion on what he's supposed to do--in which case he kind of keeps moving but not in the right direction--, and some do to lingering physical tightness when he just can't seem to figure out how to move. I did note that sometimes I do just pick up the reins and put him in a frame and ask him to walk off because sooner or later he will have to understand that, and she agreed that it was an OK approach.
We also worked on developing the lengthened trot mostly with my seat working into that "You must carry my weight" position, so he had to engage his hind end correctly by flexing and rounding his back instead of just rushing.
On the left rein, Patrice had me hold the pommel of the saddle with my right hand to keep my "floating" elbow deep and establish a good steady contact.
She also wants me to carry my hands a little higher so I feel the rein contact on top of my fingers instead of under them, making a better line from the bit to also take the pressure off Tucker's bars.
We also lengthened my stirrups one hole and I will probably drop them again as I soften my leg more. Guess I need to ride without stirrups again for a while as that always helps.
So many little things go into training a horse. It is an endlessly fascinating experience. At least I know now that the last few months have been on the right track as far as Tucker is concerned. He is never going to be an easy ride, but he certainly is capable of good work.
I always have to laugh. Years ago, one of my trainers said, "I don't understand it. Every week you come for a lesson and your horse is always better trained and yet, you can't ride him right."
Oh well, there are "riders" and there are "trainers" and where I'm concerned, "Never the train shall meet....." *G* *sorry about that, couldn't resist.*