2016.05.21: In Spite of it All

In spite of the fact that I only squeezed in one session since our last lesson, and in spite of the fact that it was raining (again, more....), and in spite of the fact that the barn yard was still torn apart with equipment and a paddock with half the fencing missing, we still had our lesson. Kudos to Kirsten to being so steady and level and continuing to encourage me onward. And in spite of all of that, Kirsten was highly complimentary of his progress. Maybe she tells me that so I don't loose all momentum and drive, but he really does seem to make progress in spite of ME.
I headed out in between the rain drops to catch him, and he came willingly to me, even though I had fed him breakfast only an hour and a half before. We headed to the barn and I brushed him off a little (whatever good that did since he was pretty soaked), and tacked him up. Kirsten suggested we simply work in the barn yard in the available space, even though the ground was rugged and the new fencing lay out meant a smaller space than before. It made him (and me) work harder.
We started to the right, where I found that I had to be particular about my timing and my position to get the best result from him. Nose tucked behind = more activity from the hind end. He needed to continue to step forward to help find his balance. After it took a bit of adjusting to figure out how to maneuver in the tight and unbalanced space of the barn yard, we got the hang of the circle, and he started producing some really beautiful steps. I finally feel like I am beginning to sort of have an idea of the fluidity of this technique. It is beginning to feel a little less like I am all thumbs, and a little more like I have an inkling of when to apply the pressure, and when to simply wait and let him figure things out.
We switched to the left, and I discovered that he needed more trot time in this direction in order to find his balance. Kirsten reiterated that under using the right hind means over using the left front, which means that in order to actually really make a change and get off of that leg he needs to really move out. He trotted a lot, but finally began to stay at a walk when I asked for more activity from the hind legs, instead of jumping forward in order to move.
He began to struggle a bit more as we worked, and Kirsten noted that he was pretty tired even though we only worked for an hour. Quality seems to make all the difference in the world. I took the tack off of him right in the barn yard, and as tired as he was, he didn't want to go anywhere. I had to encourage him to walk back out into the pasture again. In spite of all the things that could have made it worse, it went very, very well.
Next Page: 2016.06.06: Like a Florida Duck
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