Once I did get Storm listening to me on the ground, I would move on into riding him. Then I would stick to the same thing, walk work and trot work only.
In the beginning even putting my leg on the horse to move him laterally made him want to break into the trot. Luckily for me the horse responds well to the word, "No." Even with that Storm seemed to get much more easily he shouldn't go from a walk to a trot than he did from a trot to a canter. Still I didn't even ask him for a trot until I had gotten some very solid walk work out of him.
While he was gone the horse did not forget the cues for moving laterally off my legs. I suspect that's because the cues I used for that work were never applied so they did not get muddied. They just remained in his horsey brain unused. I got a little resistance the very first day when I applied them but that was pretty much it. From that point forward if I asked the horse to flex, bend or move laterally, he did fine, at the walk anyway.
If you remember from the Wendy Potts clinic, the horse was not capable of flexing or bending to the outside at the trot or the canter. That's why Wendy got on him in the first place. I think she thought I was not cuing him correctly. She found she couldn't get it done either because the horse was that physically locked up. It was then she suggested I go back to the very basics and pull the horse's head to my knee allowing his hind end to spiral out and around.
With few breaks in the weather, it seemed like each time I was getting to ride, it had been days before the last ride. That meant the ride was another first ride of the week with the lighter schedule. Even with that Storm was making some kind of progress. He still wanted to speed up whenever I put my legs on him but he was beginning to get more flexible. Before long I found I could flex the horse to the outside and he was actually able to bend.
It was easy to tell that the horse was getting to that kind of flexibility. When I would pull his head around to my knee, the horse was no longer responding in exactly the same way. Instead of just following his nose around in that circle, Storm was beginning to move through this exercise with his shoulder requiring a block with the outside rein. It was nice to see the progress.
There was another thing we struggled with on these intermittent days of work. Storm would be so excited he was not really paying attention. Even when I would get his attention on the ground, I would loose a portion of it when I got on his back. The way this manifested itself was I lost my "whoa."
Now, I know the horse knows the word "whoa." He just didn't think he needed to listened to it. I had to spend some significant amount of time putting the "whoa" back on this horse so that it was there when requested instead of when he felt like giving it. Not a fun thing to be doing with a horse that has about three years under saddle.
To be continued........................
The look on Storm's face in this picture, I have seen many times over these past few months as he tries to figure out what's happening to him.
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