Monday, April 13, 2009

Lesson with Russell Higgins P.1.

Russell Higgins and I had a three hour lesson today. I got up early so I could pick up the poos so the paddock would be nice to ride in, and to give the boys some hay. He arrived on time at 9am and we started with Maraschino.

Maraschino and Garbo body searched him for treats and told him lots of secrets while we chatted about all three. Coco stood back and was not too sure if he could come up to me with a stranger next to me, but later in the day he did.

Russell asked me to play with Maraschino a bit in the middle paddock, we did some touch your nose on that, and some circle, and some yo-yo. Then he asked me to ask him over a jump - of course he just stepped right over it. Russell said he looked very confident.

Russell said there are 4 yields - back, forwards, HQ and FQ. He also said backing up cures biting but I think we have that nailed now - he is such a fast learner. We worked on using the carrot stick and string each time on the circle send for three times in a row to improve the send, aiming for an imaginary line of where he shouldn't be by the time the string lands there. We got some lovely trot but the 12ft line was a bit short at times. He said initially not to drive him out if he floats in, and not to use the carrot stick to keep him out if he heads in (all things I have to now do with Garbo, until he gets the basic "I'll train my human to stand stand still". So it was sharpening up his send and he said to also create a little positive stress is ok. I guess I was always worried of his reaction (as it can be quite RB) but Russell said "you can tip toe round a horse for 10 years"... he also said motion can cause emotion and that I should try and do more with him in trot and canter now too.

After doing some driving FQ and HQ seperately, we worked on drivng from Zone 3, which initially Maraschino just wanted me at his head especially on the far side, then we incorporated both and walking beside Maraschino, I would yield his FQ 180, then swap the carrot stick to my other hand and yield the FQ 180 (in the same direction of the turn) and so we would end up walking along the same line - in the same direction - kind of a moving driving FQ and HQ while driving from Zone 3. Initially Maraschino was not keen at all - I asked Russell to demo what he was meaning and Maraschino thought that rearing would be a much better idea than yielding his FQ away from the CS up in the air. But within only a few goes he was calmly doing it. What I learnt from that was - if you are doing a pattern or whatever and you get a reaction - just keep focused on what you want rather than on reactiong to the reaction - that's what Russell did.

Maraschino learns so fast. Russell asked when I planned on starting him and I said in a year or so. He agreed that would be a good time as he could still see his joints were open. He also said that there is really nothing I can't be doing with him on the ground - and have I thought of doing an Audition with Maraschino? I hadn't!

Russell told me how to use the 22ft rope to mimic the girth, and to do a bit of driving, circle and yo yo as well as friendly each time I play with him. He suggested I start and finish with friendly but to challenge him each time - not to just do the easy stuff that he feels comfortable with. That way when I do ride him, nothing will be a surprise. or ecxample he got me to drive him with the carrot stick by holding the handle at his shoulder and the tip near his nose - that way we were getting him ready for carrot stick riding.

So - it was a big day for Maraschino - he did alot of licking and yawning and thinking - and he learned alot too. It's also given me ideas for advancing what I have been doing with him. I'll just work through the patterns.

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