I mentioned a couple of posts ago about working on PJ reaching down during up transitions. This was just one hole in his training. Today we working on another.
For a while I’ve known that I can’t push him deep into corners. I thought he just wasn’t listening to my inside leg, which is completely true, but the not listening to my leg caused him to lean on his inside shoulder. He would motorcycle (lean) around the turns instead of step with his inside hind leg.
To fix this, Barbara had me do squares. First we did quarter turns-on-the-forehand at the walk. Then we did quarter turns-on-the-haunches at the walk and a very slow trot. The point was to get him to independently move his shoulders and hind end, respectively. The result was better balance and reach with the inside hind. It was difficult to make the turn and not allow him to take an extra step, causing him to lean on the inside shoulder. Other problems included him swinging his hind end, trying to use my outside rein across the neck, and me not positioning my body to the inside to help him make the turns.
I asked Barbara about his lack of desire to go forward versus this very slow trot we were doing. She said that it is all connected – latitudinal flexion and longitudinal flexion – but sometimes you have to “pick your battles,” so to speak. She thought that once we regained our balance that I would be able to send him forward again. Being able to make a balanced turn will help set him up to shoot forward after the turn.
I’m sure that someone like Bridget doesn’t create holes while they’re training, but I understand why I have them. It’s all a learning experience, and while I hope to have PJ a long time (I hope I didn’t just jinx myself), what I learn on him will hopefully help me to avoid having these same holes if I were to get another horse at his level.
And the holes I fixed in my last horse(s) have helped with PJ. If this was easy, everyone would be doing it.