Watched Some Lessons
Stacie had lessons with Patrice Edwards Tuesday and Wednesday. I went down to watch on the second day.
Patrice's entire focus on riding is about how the rider influences the horse, and she spends a great deal of time establishing the rider's position, balance, weight, aids, etc. to create a round, engaged, balanced horse rather than more "active" methods of getting a horse on the bit.
In this case, Stacie worked both her horses-- a big warmblood mare and a smaller warmblood gelding, mostly at the walk for the bulk of her ride time. Both horses tend to be a bit crooked, so the main issue was working on her seat until each horse began to step straight. This required Stacie to sit perfectly level, no matter how the horse tried to carry her. It was interesting to watch how each time she "found" the right way to sit, each horse started to reach for and work on the bit.
The gelding is a bit stiff in his hind end, so they used repeated leg yields to loosen him and by the end of that ride he was flexing his hocks and using hid hindquarters. He still needs a lot of work finding his balance at the trot, but that too should improve over time.
One interesting concept I picked up is that, according to Patrice, a horse cannot learn both physically and mentally at the same time. So, when you are doing exercises and training, your prime goal is to get the horses's muscles to work in the correct way. So, if you "teach" leg yield, all you are doing is getting the horse to move its legs and body in a lateral direction. It is only after the horse has time later to process, "Well, I did that a nothing dangerous happened, so it must be OK to move that way," that the horse's mind grasps the concept. If so, that makes perfect sense to me. What I have so often found is that an exercise that is extremely difficult to teach on Day One is often no problem to ride on Day Two or Three. It makes me think it's a good idea to give the horse some time to think between training sessions so his brain can process what his muscles and body have done.
The whole concept of riding is pretty complex, after all. Riding with Patrice does not make it any easier until something clicks in the rider's brain--humans can think and process physical movement at the same time--and everything falls into place that is starts to become simple.
Now all I have to do is get on my own Boys and apply some of that "simplicity" to get them going again. At least the lessons inspired me to try.
Although it's going to be hard with 4-6 inches of rain on the way! (Should soak in a lot as the ground has been rained on several times over the last few days.)