Monday, May 31, 2010

Ricky Quinn Clinic~ Day 4

When I got to the boarding facility on the last day of the clinic it was threatening to rain... more. It had sprinkled a little overnight and I was glad that I had a light stall sheet on Mercy because what once was her wonderful skylight was now a leaking hole into her stall. Not big time, but it had a good drip in one spot. Oh well, she was dry! And ready for grain (supplements...)!!!!

Throughout the whole clinic she was very tidy in her stall. She generally peed while she was looking out her door, so at least it was all in one spot. And she pooed everywhere, but she was pretty careful not to stir it in. For being in this stall for four days, minus the few hours we rode or did groundwork, it really wasn't too bad! If I remember correctly, I think I only put 2 bags of pellets in her stall too. That was OK with me; I wanted her as comfy as she could be. She's not use to being a 'stalled' horse, although I don't think anyone would have guessed otherwise- she was so good!
Anyway, time to head over to the arena! When I went in to sit down for a bit before the colt starting started, I found the grey arab and his owner were doing some groundwork to prepare for their first ride. She wanted to make sure her arab was hooked on and paying full attention to her. And only her.
When she asked him to face up, he compied. What had taken Ricky over an hour to do the day before, the owher had within minutes. The arab still wasn't 100% 'there' with her (notice the ear facing backwards...) but it was a VAST inprovement from a day or two before! What a soft eye:

Ricky sat in the audience for a while answering our questions and sharing stories while we watched her work the arab. Finally he got up and we got started. He tacked up the arab and quickly checked him out. Then it was time to ride! The owner climbed up and was told to just enjoy the ride for a while. She held onto the night latch once Ricky started maneuvering the arab around, just in case anyone got off balanced. Ricky asked the arab to give his hindquarters...

...and then his fronts. This allowed the owner to feel what needs to be accomplished in the saddle once they are really riding.
The continued this for a while and then Ricky handed her the lead rope. He instructed her to just move the horse out. He has to be moving in order to ask him to stop. The arab was taking this all in stride. His face remained relaxed and his ears were focused on his rider. Perfect!

Once she had him moving out, she reached down the lead and asked for a one rein stop.

They did this to both sides quite a few times. They were doing amazing work! It was soft and smooth, like they had been doing it forever! This was the point where Ricky asked her to trot. It took a bit to get the horse moving, but once he did it was all business again.

They worked once again on breaking the hindquarters over and getting the feet to stop but from the trot, not the walk. Then they were done. Their first ride was a great success! What a great way for them both to end the colt starting clinic! Congratulations guys!
After a quick lunch, I grabbed Mercy and headed to the arena to practice hobbling before our last ride. As you can see, she was so thrilled! ;)

I put the hobbles on and off three times, all in different parts of the arena, and she next tested them. Yes! She was thoroughly bored with the whole hobbling business, but she participated like a champ! I can't wait to pick up a pair of hobbles soon so we can continue this training.

Once we were done with that, the round pen opened up for us to use. Mercy really hadn't had a chance to move around since being at the clinic, so I let her loose and asked her to trot or lope around for a while. Of course all she wants to do is hook on and stop. Normally that's great, but not when I want her to move! I kept it interesting by asking her to change directions and changing her speed. I finally asked her to hook on (no problem, lol!) and then I discovered an interesting issue. No matter what way she is going in the round pen, when she stops she always places me on her left side. If I tried to walk around to her right side, she would move her whole body to the right to keep me on her left. Hmmmm.
So, I sent her out again and asked her to stop. The same thing. I worked her for a little to see if I could do something to help her, but I ran out of time. Ricky and the other participants were gathering and we needed to get going. I finished up by asking her to follow me and then breaking her over her hindquarters... all without her lead rope. She's so good with that.
We all rode out into the arena and gathered around Ricky, ready to start. We all thought we would jump right back into our exercises and maybe do some more drill, but since there were only three or four of us left (it was Monday and most had to bail because of work, boo...) he said we could work on more individual issues for each of our horses. Each of the participants were going to get some one-on-one time with Ricky to work on what every we wanted. Here is what Mercy and I did with our personal 'Ricky time' the last day of the clinic:
He asked me what I wanted to work on, individually, and I replied loping. So he sent Mercy and I into the round pen. I had been having issues with bucking (way in the past, but it comes up every now and then, briefly) and loping in general still isn't great... Mercy is VERY unbalanced loping to the right and sometimes it takes quite a bit from me to get her going. Once going she tends to take charge and not listen to me when I ask for speed changes or directional changes. Ricky told me to just make trotting uncomfortable for her; that eventually she would break into a lope... making it HER idea. I was not to guide her in any way at first, only hold on to the night latch and give her her reins. I would ask her to trot by leaning forward slightly and gently kick/urge her forward into a trot. Then I would ask her to speed up by gradually increasing my leg actions, making them faster and bumping harder as she got faster and faster into a trot. The second she took a lope stride I was to quit everything and pet, pet, pet her, all the way to the stop. Then keep petting. Ideally she would find the middle of the round pen- this could be one of her 'quiet' places. There we would sit for a while.
Additionally, Mercy was having issues going from a standstill to just moving straight forward, even at a walk. She would immediately want to step to the left or the right when I urged her forward. I have no doubt this is from our reining training. She always thinks we are going to spin from the standstill, so she takes control and doesn't listen to my cues. This exercise helped her find the 'track' on the outside of the round pen. I worked going to the right, correcting her direction only if necessary but otherwise never directing her intentionally. Over and over we found the lope and the track. For over an hour, I urged her forward and pet her the moment she loped. She not only loped out with little effort from me by the end, she also felt incredibly balanced and round! That's where he had us quit for a short break.
While we were taking a break, Ricky had me to maneuver Mercy around so he could evaluate her a little better. We did hind quarters, moving the front left and right, side passing, backing straight, backing circles, etc. I had never asked her to back circles before so she was pretty confused, but otherwise she was solid (to my surprise too!). He said next spring when he comes back to bring a bosal to fit her into! WHAT?! How cool! I thought she would be in a snaffle forever! I never imagined he would say something like that- at least not while I owned her. How neat! I can't wait until next year!
When Ricky asked us to return to the round pen I made the mistake of assuming we would be right where we were when we left the round pen... so I asked her to lope with too much energy at first. She got really pissy and made it clear it was too much too fast- we were still just 'getting it.' After realizing I needed to start over, I asked very softly and again gradually increased the pressure. It only took maybe 5 minutes for us to be right back to where we were the first round pen session, both going to the left and right. That's where Ricky had us quit for good. My take-away message from this whole thing is that I was constantly picking on Mercy's face and never letting her 'just go!' She needs to realize that now I will not always pick up on her, she can move! Just go for the ride!
What an amazing experience at the right time! I highly recommend going to watch or participate at any of his clinics, if you can. I will have Mercy ready to go for next year's clinic for sure! I can't wait!

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