My schedule is changing around again, which is a good thing. It does mean that my man C-rage is adjusting to the slightly different schedule. I'm now able to work him more regularly, but I want to keep in the place the concept that was working so very well for him: time off and breaks. Instead of drilling and worrying about a rigid schedule, I want to keep things mixed up and easy to allow him to progress at the speed that works for him.
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In light of that, I wanted Tuesday's ride to briefly cover the same things without frustrating him and reward him for progress made.
We started on the lunge line. SOMEONE has been nagging me about lunging, and I figured that since she's been right about everything else so far, she probably had a point here. I still hate lunging. First I let Courage warm up w/t both directions. He giraffed around like nobody's business and I decided that was enough of that. I clipped on his harbridge martingale and we were off.
An aside here: I don't love gadgets in training. I do like side reins for horse schooled to accept contact, but he is not. Side reins do nothing for us just now, but since Courage is completely responsible for the action of the harbridge, it was worked really well for us. Today was maybe his third time in it, and it has definitely helped him understand how to stretch down and go forward without force.
I think his bodywork helped so much with allowing him to go forward that now it's becoming much easier for him. It was also the first time he and I have been comfortable enough for him to canter on the lunge line--up to this point, he just hasn't been relaxed enough in the canter to let small(er) circles be a training exercise.
I popped the harbridge off*, put the lunge line away, and climbed on. I didn't fuss too much about his upward transitions, and he gave me the softest, loveliest forward trot I've ever had on him, his head and neck stretched forward and down while swinging through his back.
I got off. Today, I spent more time grooming and doing his stretches than I did actually working with him. I am sanguine that he comes out tomorrow ever better. I compare it to the growing "unschooling" trend among non-conventional educators. There are certainly benefits to drilling and rigidity, but right now, for where we're both at, I really prefer the loose structure.
Other thoughts? Who holds to a schedule vs free handing the training? How do you think that affects the way you and your horse advance?
*Noted: You can ride in these, theoretically. I am REALLY uncomfortable with sitting on a horse that is restrained by a gadget I can't release, so I don't. I think by the time he's broke enough that I would be comfortable with it, he'll be well beyond the point where we need it. Your mileage may vary.