I think I’ve been too nice to PJ. I watched Bridget ride him and whenever he got behind the leg she let him have it with the whip. One very big whack. Now, I often give him a pretty big whack but not like she did. And I think he needed it. She confirmed what I knew – he generally ignores both my leg and the whip.
I ask him to go and when he doesn’t, I escalate my aid to what I’ve always thought was a big step, but after watching her, I realize it wasn’t. Of course, PJ didn’t react to my upped aid because it wasn’t enough for him. I always looked to me – maybe I was off balance or had my leg in the wrong spot or…, so I didn’t really get after him.
I need to learn to not nag but to ask and then demand. Period. No questions. To me it seems like I will be going from extremes – nice aid to very very (very) big aid – but my slow increase in the aids just taught PJ to ignore me. This will be hard in lessons where I’m not only “listening” to my horse, but I’m listening to Barbara and trying to do what she wants. For example, when she asks for me to drive, I usually just increase my driving aids. Instead, I will need to ask him to go forward and then immediately make him go forward if he doesn’t listen, even if it disrupts whatever we are working on.
Bridget and I are working on a plan for when this second week of her riding him is over. On Friday, she’s going to get on him first and then I will. Maybe she’ll ride him once a week (expensive if it’s in addition to my 2 lessons a week) or maybe I’ll have one lesson with her and one with Barbara a week. We’ll see.