Another great ride today! In just two rides we are already making improvements and Rudy learns extremely quickly. The picture above is to show what we are riding in. You can see he is just wearing his halter and I have tied one longer lead rope to the sides of his halter to act like “reins”. I tied a second lead rope around his neck and that is what I predominantly use (besides seat, leg, and voice) to control him during our rides. The goal is to take off the halter and “reins” and ride bridleless in order to improve our trust in each other, increase Rudy’s independence, and decrease unnecessary aids that I am unknowingly applying constantly.
There were many improvements from our last ride. Our transitions from a walk to a halt were much more prompt. We worked on halting straight and it still can use some work. I think the straightness is more due to my own crookedness and uneven seat/leg pressure. We walked a series of 4 raised poles I had set up earlier last week as trot poles. Those helped with straightness and our halting afterwards.
When trotting we still had to make many changes of direction and small circles. However, by the end of our trot work we were able to go all the way around the ring twice both directions while maintaining a relatively consistent pace! Small victories are what counts!
Onto cantering…To the left Rudy was tremendous. I was able to continue using just the neck rope and cantering completely around the ring a few times with a consistent rhythm. He responded well to half halts through my seat and even circled and listened to my turning aids.
Going to the right is a little more challenging. I believe it’s actually my own weakness but he feels slightly less balanced when travelling right. I have to use more outside rein to keep him straight through the left shoulder. When I tried cantering to the right with just the neck rope he would build and get faster very quickly. I didn’t make a downward transition but rather just picked up the lead rope reins and worked to the right using the halter and lead rope. We had already made a lot of progress today so I figured I would save cantering on the right lead for another day. But one thing that amazed me is how he felt immediately upon me picking up the “reins”. It was like he immediately when onto the “bridle” and lightened his front end. So it appears our “bridleless” work is already paying off and promoting independence and self carriage!
Next exciting news…we jumped again! I usually only jump once or twice a week, but the other day I literally jumped once off each lead. Today I jumped the brick wall once off each lead and then jumped the blue and white gate pictured above once off of the right lead. Eek! I am having so much fun. I should jump without tack more often. I felt myself effectively use my upper body before the jump and really felt tight in the air.
I hope Rudy is enjoying himself as much as I am!
I am taking my good friend from college on a trail ride tomorrow. Rudy can enjoy a leisurely hour-long walk!
Now if you need a good laugh…here’s a barn cat napping in a water bucket.