Stewie is here for 2 weeks whilst his owner is on holiday. He is a lovely, gentle giant and we are really enjoying having him around the place!
He came for a 3 day Experience with his owner a couple of weeks ago, where we concentrated on helping him bring his head down for the Forward down in the standstill (this was quite hard for him). You may have also read about him in a previous post called From Non-Loader to Self-Loader http://www.elainecoxon-blog.com/non-loader-to-self-loader/– because he had some issues around trailer loading. We also looked at some Neutral Seat ridden exercises with his owner. As far as the gymnastic exercises were concerned we got as far as a nice Lateral Bending, Forward down and Stepping under on the circle and straight line and being able to stand in a haunches in position.
So it was great to have him back here to continue his education for a few weeks. The good news was he loaded into the trailer to come here perfectly – despite less than helpful weather! – and travelled well.
He has been with me for a week (5 days training, 2 days soak time) and in that time we have been concentrating on helping him become straighter through learning some gymnastic exercises to help him.
The standstill exercises and the LFS on the circle and straight line were feeling very nice so we have been able to progress his haunches in. Stewie is naturally left bended, with a dominant front right – so we started with the left rein to learn the haunches in because that is naturally going to be easier for him.
This has developed really well on this rein and he is able to co-ordinate himself well. In fact we have even been able to take this off the fence line and have the first few steps of half pass on the left rein.
The right rein was a lot harder – tough to shorten the long muscles and lengthen the short ones – and although he could bring his haunches in off the fence it was really hard for him to bring his inside hip. We have spent time in asking him to understand the twinkling of the whip at the girth area to ask for concavity. This has been time well spent. If you are finding it difficult to keep the concavity in the laterals it is really important to teach your horse this aid – indeed it will be an important aid as a ridden horse and the better they know it the easier finding the correct bend will be.
I am always amazed how quickly horses can work out these puzzles if we set everything up into small enough pieces. Of course it takes time to develop the co-ordination and the strength to build to self-carriage – but the understanding can happen very quickly if we are consistent with our requests, quick to acknowledge and reward a try, and congruent with our body language and tools.
If you are struggling with teaching your horse the haunches in – or finding you are stuck in your learning – perhaps I can help you.
In the meantime Im looking forward to continue with Stewie’s education in the next week and helping him become straighter and more co-ordinated and hopefully develop his co-ordination on the right rein to bring that off the fence line in haunches in too. We will see – I’ll keep you updated!