Thought I would continue from yesterdays blog. This was all done yesterday as I stated but thought it might be interesting to outline the tasks in the freedom course for you. We will begin with the 12 ground school tasks.
1. back up sending energy down the line. That is the lead rope line. It is telling the horse to back up by jiggling the lead rope with the least amount of energy needed to get the horse to step back and keep stepping back until the line is played out. A+ for both horses
2. back up sending energy with my body. That is without the lead line telling the horse to back up just by my body language using the least amount possible to get the horse to move. A+ for both horses
3. Back your horse out the gate. This they both do no problem just directional changes to get them lined up and going out the gate. I give them an A
4. send- no problem at all with this getting them lined up parallel with me and then sending them around me.
All of these exercises teach the horse to respect my space. The rule of thumb is whose feet move first is the follower. So I want to move their feet not mine when I am doing these exercises. Then they learn to respect me and follow my lead, that will be tendered down to the minimal amount of feel to get the job done. What I am after and pretty much have with these horses is a real light feel, ounces of pressure and they move.
5. saddle, the way Reis shows. I do it this way anyway and the horses stand still.
6. Lead- a horse isn't broke to lead unless you can move all the body parts in whatever direction you want when you want. And they move with the slightest pressure, they follow on the side I put them on and move as one with me. I can move their shoulders, the hindquarters, back up stop, just by my body language. Thus, they are not tugging on me nor running over me. I give these guys an A+
7. Send horse between you and fence- I call this the squeeze play and it measures the trust the horse has for me given that they are naturally claustrophobic. One might not think this is that big of a deal, but it is really huge. You never know the tight places you find yourself horseback and you want to have that control in tight places. This reminds me of the times that we as people are put in tight places, where we cannot wiggle free of the financial pressures or the relationship issues and we just have to learn to trust the Lord. Prov. 3:5,6 says alot about this. The horse learns by this exercise that tight places are not all that bad, and we do to. My horses do well at this. On the other hand I still have a lot to learn in my walk with Him.
8. Send around the arena- this is on a lead and free, I think. Again it is an issue of foot control. Changing directions is a great way to get a horse to respect you and follow your lead, this one my horses do well. They turn to the inside or outside according to my body language. You can judge resistance/rebellion in a horse by how well they are willing to change directions and with what attitude. What I am after is a fluid movement with no throwing of the head, just a relaxed change of direction without slowing the gait or stopping or speeding up.
9. Desensitization- this is tossing the lead rope all around them and even using other things to desensitize them. This teaches them to stand relaxed no matter what is going on around them. Dennis just uses the lead line for this task. my horses get an A+
10. Leg yield- this is from the ground on a lead. THey cross over one foot in front of the other while moving forward. A+ for mine
11. Lateral flexion- this is bending the horse side to side, getting them to free up the head at the poll. Lateral flexion is necessary to achieve the next task,
12. Vertical flexion- this is oftne called collection. It makes it possible for the horse to round his back and carry out the manuevers from horseback. Think of a weight lifter lifting a heavy weight. He has to get in the right position to lift the weight. He doesn't bend over and try to lift with his back alone. He uses all his body to lift. Teh same is with the horse, if he is collected then He can feel you on his back better and be in athletic position to carry out the movements you ask for.
As for my horses, they do both of these with no problem. So the ground school tasks are passed with what I would say are 9's and 10's.
Later I will talk about the mounted and mounted refined tasks. But this is enough for now.