Wednesday, March 17, 2010

SHV Clinic with Janet Manley

Miss Awesomeness struts her stuff around the arena before the real work begins!

Acknowledgment after grazing. "Hey muther! Don't think I can't see you sneaking up on me with that little camera! Oh, eep, that sun is bright...." Look at the shiny coat! I missed that coat!

Sunday Greta and I went to a Sporthorse Versatility clinic with Janet Manley, a British Horse Society Level II Instructor who now works at HyCourt Farm in Austin. Beautiful facility, very knowledgeable staff, very well-kept horses.

The clinic consisted of a ground work portion in the arena, and under saddle portion in the arena, and some application of lessons learned in the arena out on a sporthorse versatility course: an obstacle course. Greta came to clinic very chill, and was content to graze on her hay and slop around her water (I need to get footage of how "neatly" she munches and drinks, we'll just say she takes after me when it comes to eating! She doesn't just eat, she feasts!) while I saddled her up and hung around with her and the other riders and horses.

The arena already had some obstacles set up, not necessarily for desensitizing, but more as a physical embodiment of some more abstract concepts that the rider learns how to help their horse deal with, like anticipating how your horse will approach certain tasks, better control of the feet through the aids (the very beginnings for learning the flying change and then the tempis), utilizing a horse's curiousity about new objects to help them overcome any fear of it, and overall feeling your horse and understanding how they interpret things and want to handle them.

On the ground, when I led Greta through obstacles such as two poles set about two feet apart that you had to walk through (not over; they had several variations of this, all of them had flowers or flags on something of the like on the poles to make the opening seem closed), a tarp, a mattress (yes, that was a doozy, because it felt different under their feet), and other obstacles. Greta went over all of these with flying colors. She was a bit tentative about the mattress, but because I was leading the way, then she figured it couldn't be that bad. She was absolutely amazing.

Under saddle, things were put in a different perspective. Because I wasn't leading, then Greta figured she had a bit more freedom. She didn't have to do it. This was really apparent going over the mattress. She was definitely not afraid of it, she just didn't want to have to handle it head-on, just go around it. Janet said this was a good lesson to help me help Greta take things head-on, not try and avoid them. Greta would let me get right up to it, then she make a very big side-step off to the side and go around it! So I had to be quick and anticipate what she wanted to do. If she planned to dart to the right, I opened my left rein and put her right leg on her, telling her that she definitely cannot go right, but she's not trapped. She was allowed to go some to the left, but if she went too far, then I did the opposite. Eventually, the only way that she didn't encounter resistance was to go forward. It sounds funky, I know. It sounded better when Janet explained it haha! I had to be quick with my aids and not let her push through them, and Janet was quite impressed with how quick Greta was on her feet and how responsive she was, "You can really do something with that footwork!"

Once we figured the mattress out, it was no problem, same with the other obstacles. Out on the outdoor course, the same rules applied. Because we were out of an arena setting, Greta was a bit more alert, so it took some more tries, but eventually we made it through!

Monday was her day off, but I did go out and groom her and graze her, since she was in after a long day of being out to pasture because it was supposed to rain Monday night, which it did! Today we did some good ol' walk-trot-canter work, nothing new! Though I must note how our canterwork has continued to improve!

All and all, Greta still managed to spread her sweetness to all who met her, including Janet Manly, though she did get a bit cranky with some of the geldings she was penned next to. She got over quickly once her hay bag was reloaded, though (like I've said, she only has eyes for the haybag!) I think she's picking up my occasional spastic behavior now, along with the eating habits. What a lovely goob!

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