In terms of this week's training, Rain Dance has made heaps of progress. This week I've spent a lot of time working on lateral Flexion/softness, and leg yielding. It turns out he is actually quite sensitive to leg pressure. I ended up spending more time getting him to control his response to my leg, i.e. getting his reaction to my leg to match the amount of pressure I apply. He still needs some work on this to be more consistent, but he has made great improvement and will only get better with time.
Lateral Flexion was the other basic we worked on this week. Starting with getting him to give to pressure at the walk at the most basic of levels... taking the slack out of the rein and giving it back when he gave his head. I did this at the walk, repeating the same direction several times before switching and going the other way. This was how we started every ride this week. By mid week we moved on to the trot, and today the lope. Also, by today, I began to combine his improved lateral flexion with our leg work to begin getting a basic lateral step that can eventually be turned into advanced maneuvers.
In the midst of our work on lateral flexion and leg yielding, I have continued to expose Rain Dance to obstacles at the farm, on the trail, and at a neighboring cross country field. Around the farm we have worked with tarps, barrels, cavelettis, ground poles, and some small jumps. On the trail, I reinforced lateral work and leg yielding steering around the closely spaced trees of the tree farm. And in our neighbor's cross country field, we went over a few cross rails, and practiced stepping off of a ledge/embankment. The great thing I have found with this horse, is that he wants to please. Even if he gets wary about something he has not yet seen, he takes cues from his rider as encouragement to overcome obstacles. This bravery and confidence in his rider will allow him to be capable of many things in his future.
Check out some photos from around the farm this week. And be sure to check out our Facebook page for video of his experience with the tarp, and an updated riding video in a few days. Have a great week everyone!