09.05.16: Straightening the Storm

I haven't had much time to work with Storm since the joust, which is frustrating. I did get a couple long rein sessions in, but I discovered that for some reason I was having a bit more trouble with the long reins in conjunction with the bridle than I did with the halter. The first session wasn't too bad, though I could tell that Storm was doing some really odd things ahead of me. He was not moving forward as much as he had in the halter, and that he was doing a lot more squirming around than he had in the halter. The second time we worked I had Nancy watch, and she gave me some pointers, though I ran into some trouble after a while when he really started to put up a fight. I finally got him to go forward a little bit, so we quit there for the day.
Since I knew that Storm was crooked again, this time to the right. I guess he decided that since he was crooked in one direction, it would be good to be crooked in the other direction. He was actually so crooked that he was picking up a left lead canter on a circle to the right (which was only 44' round, I might add....). That's ATHLETIC! Jeffra was here and kindly reset him and he did really well. She actually heard his back pop when she did the adjustment. She did some other work on him, and was pleased with how he had developed muscle while I was in Florida. Now if only we can figure out how to keep that...
He grazed for a while, staying right at the distance of my long rope, which was really respectful of him. Jeffra came out and sat with me after a bit, and we chatted. He eventually stopped grazing, and just hung out with us. I was pleased that he was doing so, he was still processing the adjustments and things. He started fussing with things and picking up my stick and the ropes and such, and I started to play with his mouth a little bit. She stuck her fingers in his mouth and scratched the inside of his lip, which made him happy. I picked up the stick after a while and tossed the string over his back several times, and he became very quiet. Apparently he just wanted a little bit of attention. Before we headed down to our lesson, she scratched his withers a bit, which made him very happy.
We headed down to our lesson, and got started with the long line work. I explained some of my challenges to Kirsten and we talked through them and realized that part of the challenge that I was having is that Storm was actually getting behind the bit, which was causing him to lose forward, and it was coming out in his shoulders as the motion went out sideways, which meant that I was losing the feel on the reins. Kirsten took him for a bit and helped him to work through some of it, and we concluded that I was having some trouble because I was putting too much contact on the bit in an effort to match the contact that I had from the halter when I first did the exercise in the last lesson. Once I lightened up on that, and helped to keep him moving forward he improved a lot. He was also coincidentally working over ground poles, which were helping him to engage his hind end even more. Kirsten recommended that we keep working on that.
She asked if I was riding him, and I said yes, but I wasn't prepared to do so today since the horses were a bit squirrely, and I didn't have all my stuff together. I was a bit bummed about that because he was doing pretty good, and riding would have been nice.
She asked if we had been doing any of the longing exercises, and I said that we had been doing some, and so we decided to go check it out in the round pen since that is easier for more support to not have to worry about the lines and him bracing against me. I turned him loose and asked him to move off at the walk. He started off fairly relaxed, and then got a bit impulsive when I asked for the faster gaits. He took off in a canter, which was not relaxed and eventually he worked his way back down to the walk again, and found the relaxation again. Kirsten helped me to give him the right cues at the right time to help him find relaxation at more than just the walk. He began to improve at the trot, though he was still fighting some. He also spooked when Kirsten made a couple sudden moves as he approached that side of the round pen. It just gave him an excuse to take off again, after he jumped backwards quickly. He settled back down pretty fast, and I was able to make more progress. She recommended doing the exercise series with him for at least 15 minutes in each direction, and working on the long rein exercises to help him develop straightness at the walk. I hope that over the course of the next 2 weeks before she is back for our long clinic that we will be able to get a significant amount of work in to help develop these two things so that during the clinic we are ready to do more riding.
We finished up just before a small rainstorm came through, though it ended up not raining that badly that time. There is more coming in tonight, though, so the horses are in for the night.

Next Page: 09.05.26: Three Days of Storms