April 27, 2010

Kasane had her first real ride today

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Sylvana, an awesome natural horse trainer (and mentor), met me at the barn after work to help me with Kasane. Sylvana and Chris, the barn owner, have given me tips and suggestions for working with young horses using natural horsemanship methods. I’ve always done traditional training methods and always enjoy learning new techniques and methods.

Sylvana watched me work Kasane. The Bay Wonder Mare Junior was frisky at first: she bucked at me a few times when I asked her for a canter with the saddle on. I had to get after her so she realized it was easier to do what I asked then bucking towards me.

Sylvana showed me some new ground work to try with Kasane, including encouraging her to give to pressure on her nose so she would arch her neck when asked to back (instead of bracing against the pressure). Kasane picked it up immediately. When she backs and she is doing it properly, her entire frame rounds and looks like her back lifts and she glides back (instead of looking stiff). Such a smart girl.

We did a lot of neat exercises: backing while releasing to the the pressure on her nose so her neck arched, one-rein stop, teaching her to give way to pressure on her side so pivoted on the forehand or the haunches. She picked it all up within a few minutes. I was so impressed. Sylvana was too — and mentioned how much she loves working with Arabs.

Once we had Kasane more relaxed, we asked her to canter around the ring again. She looked stiff again — so we pulled her in and did some more ground work to relax her. We tried a one-rein stop (which she did very well, “textbook” Sylvana said) both directions. The one rein stop allows you to disengage the horse’s hind end so the horse will step over. It gives the horse something to think about — and is a good way to diffuse problems.

Sylvana tied the rope to the rope halter and I got on after expressing (and then letting go) of my nervousness. Every other time I’ve ridden Kasane someone has lead her. So… this was a big deal. Kasane stood perfectly while I mounted. She’s been very good at that so far (so long as I’m careful not to push my toe into her side she doesn’t seem to mind).

Sylvana had me encourage Kasane to bend around and touch her nose to my riding shoes (she bit my boots 🙂 heh, just like Isis does). Kasane did that both sides. I asked her for a one-rein stop withg some pressure on my right leg, and she moved around nicely. After doing that both directions, Sylvana asked me to encourage Kasane to walk forward. And she did. 🙂 She figured out that the pressure from my legs and me saying “walk” meant the same thing. After a few minutes, she understood leg pressure for left and right (turning the butt really, not turning her, not yet), rein signals (all done in a wide, gentle motion to be clear), and associated various signals with the voice commands she already knew. Smart girl. Very smart girl.

Sylvana also asked me to take up more contact with the reins and hold steady pressure. When Kasane gave to the pressure, I released contact immediately. So she gave nicely to the pressure on her nose after a few times. She also figured out what back meant.

I was so pleased with her. Yay! So I’ll be riding her more this week. 🙂 Maybe with Sylvana again on Friday. I told her I’d be happy to help her with her four year old gelding.

What a great way to end the evening!

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