Wednesday, 24 August 2016

[Schooling] Pole Work Exercise

I have a diagram copy of the above pole work exercise saved on my computer but I'm not sure where I originally saw it :(. (If it's yours or you know who it came from then please let me know!). I've neglected pole work with Pea a bit lately or tend to do the simple four in a row so I was looking at a new exercise to play around with and decided to give this a bit of a go. I've altered it slightly as if I copied the diagram exactly then the lengths weren't right for Pea so I've had to shorten them a bit, hence why the poles don't match up completely to look like two C's. 

This is a really fun exercise as you can completely play around with it however you want depending on your horses ability and fitness levels. The diagram gives great ideas of using the outside two poles as canter poles, circles round them, bending exercises, etc but I mainly stuck to trotting them with Pea and mixing up various ways of approaching and using them to engage him. 

Pea is quite stubborn (as I'm sure a lot of you may have realised!) and hates repetitive work. I can't school him two days in a row as he'll get bored and naughty, but adding poles gives him something else to think about. With the above exercise, I incorporated lots of circles and turns to really get him guessing as to what we were going to do next. The middle of the poles form four trotting poles, but as they are the meeting point, it's slightly more narrow so it's great for working on straightness as I've noticed Pea tends to drift sideways a lot. 

I also used the end/side poles to work on straightness and carried out lots of figures of eights going from one side to the other to keep Pea bending and encourage more suppleness from him as he's currently being a bit tight bending to the left. The two poles at the side which are slight further apart from each other (either side of the middle four) are great for encouraging Pea to lengthen his stride a bit to meet them both on good strides as he tends to be a bit lazier with poles further apart and will stumble over them instead. These can also be used as canter poles but I felt they might have been a bit too short for Pea but if I lengthened them then the middle four would have been too much of a stretch! 

I will definitely revisit this exercise time and time again as there's so many different ways you can play around with it and it's perfect for keeping Pea engaged and guessing what we're doing next. 

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx

Thursday, 11 August 2016

[Monthly Review] July 2016

Horses never like to make life easy...! Pea has been, in general, going quite well this past month, however, he also decided it was time he had a bit of a holiday whilst we were having a heat wave and pulled a shoe off so had to wait a few days for the farrier to re-do his feet.

I was on holiday for the first few days of July, but came back with a few days before work so Pea got in a bit of hacking and schooling. With work, I find it harder to find time to ride or have the same motivation and at the moment there's a lot of holidays so some long days but hopefully it'll all work out. I think the minimalist work does help Pea a bit as he's slightly less ill-mannered. 

As mentioned, Pea gave himself a week off after pulling a shoe and then me doing a few 14 hour shifts but it seemed to have done him a little bit of good. We hacked the first day and he was reasonably well behaved other than spooking at very silly things (such as a patch of grass!). I've also decided to forego lunging him before schooling and hoping for the best. It does seem to be going well, he still has one or two arguments which are to be expected but I'm hoping we can push through this and start working on getting him more forward on his own. 

We've also had a couple of lessons where one started off badly (as in Pea decided to well and truly deck me) but luckily learnt his lesson and went rather nicely afterwards! I'm now hoping to get him a bit fitter and working a bit softer (he's currently decided that he'll behave but it will be more on his terms and as soon as I ask for a better contact he locks against me!) and work towards getting him out to a few winter dressage tests. 

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx

Sunday, 7 August 2016

[Lesson Report] Super Shiny Halo

After last weeks lesson where Pea rather lovingly decided to launch me off, this week he decided he'd best polish his halo and produce some top notch work!

He started out with a mediocre walk so we worked on half-halting to get his attention and then relaxing and giving a sharp nudge with my leg to get a reaction. When he didn't quite give the reaction I was after, it was backed up with a sharp tap from the whip. Before long, he was moving forward with a lot more energy and felt that if I put the slightest pressure on then he would trot. 

We changed the rein and worked the same on the opposite rein before moving into trot. Again, he backed off slightly so we pushed forward and got a much better trot. We worked round the arena a few times and did some transitions before changing the rein. Again, he gave a really nice trot so we did a few transitions and there was one moment where he napped near the gate but I lifted his head so he couldn't buck and turned him round followed by a swift nudge and he soon decided to head back into trot. 

As he was giving such a forward moving trot, we then decided to see how the canter planned out. I think this was one of the most relaxing canters he has ever given me! We were working in the top end of the arena and there's one side where he always plays up on either rein but this was never an issue through the lesson and not once did he back off or tense. 

We then came back to trot and worked on some 20m circles, again pushing for a forward trot when he backed off. We also decided to try the canter out again as normally Pea finds circles in canter quite tough but he was seriously being out of this world throughout the lesson. Again, there wasn't any tension, never once backed off and gave some of the nicest canter I've ever had from him. 

Fingers crossed this behaviour continues and hopefully we might head out to some winter dressage! 

Thanks for reading,

Laura xx