Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Breakthroughs with Bodi

Let it be known that today was the very first day that this guy did four whole strides of canter on command in the round pen. I am so proud of the little dude.
Cantering champion, as far as I'm concerned.
I don't know if he would have done more or not because as soon as he started cantering I immediately dropped everything and was like "Yes! Good boy!" and went and gave him attention, then stopped the round penning for the day. I have this whole week off so I'm going over to the barn every day to help out. I can try teaching it to him on the other side tomorrow, and maybe play around with the idea a bit. But for right now I'm just stoked that he got it.

Yesterday was a crapshoot in the round pen. I'd been round penning him with a dressage whip since the longer lunge whip was cumbersome when he tried to come trotting up to me repeatedly. There was no way to nudge him with the long one when he was that close- the whip is almost as tall as I am, so I switched to the shorter ~3 ft length one. That worked for awhile, however now that I'm trying to get him to canter the short one means all the energy I'm displaying is way too close to Bodi for his comfort. (And to be honest, I'm too close to Bodi for my own comfort.) He started pinning his ears and flailing his head and feet around and getting frustrated. It seemed to be him saying "I'm trotting as fast as I possibly can, what do you want?! What is that kissing noise?! What?!" And then he'd throw a tantrum and everything would fall apart. I asked Barbara if she thought I might be getting too close to Bodi in the round pen and she said yes- he probably felt like I was challenging him with my physical presence instead of encouraging him to try something new. So I switched to the long lunge whip.
In the beginning even the long lunge whip didn't make Bodi very happy.
Here's him being the grumpiest while I redirect him to the outside
so he can't cut across the middle towards me.
Granted, I probably didn't have very good form here either.
I'm still learning strong but calm body posture.

Good grief, it was like night and day. Bodi went out immediately, transitioned wonderfully from a walk to a trot and then back again, and switched directions better than he ever had when directed from up closer. I was no longer trying to close a path off, I was showing him where to turn. I was also calmer, because I wasn't staring down a grumpy horse. I could create energy from a distance to get him to canter without making him feel like I was chasing him down.

Not as naughty as he used to be. :)

I recognize that today was probably also just a random good day, but hopefully now that we've had a good day with the lunge whip and staying further away and cantering, it's more likely that he won't be as confused on a less perfect day. Tomorrow we'll see!

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