We had a brief lunging warmup, in which he was dang near perfect, then worked in the arena at all gaits. I don’t know what to say about him, other than that he is just feeling more solid, a lovely thing. After arena work we walked down and trotted and cantered back up the hill.
Then he got a walk out and a rinse and some more peppermints.
I brought her in from the paddock where she allowed herself to be easily caught. We worked in hand in the arena for about 20 minutes where we discussed the idea of focusing on me and not everything else. We did this by going forward and coming back multiple times, and she clued in quite quickly, and then started putting her head down and licking her lips.
Then I tacked her up, insisting that she stand still with her neck down. She actually did quite well with standing still, but had to be reminded several times to keep her neck down. That’s pretty good!
Under tack she did quite well in all gaits in the arena.
We went out with Kristen on Sif. Archie led for the first half of the ride in all gaits and he was very good. In the second half of the ride Kristen led and he was very good with just one moment when Kristen cantered off and he got a little strong. He didn’t do anything naughty and settled quickly. Very good day.
I rode him out with Kristen on Sif. She needed to work on her horse leaving another horse on a trail ride and her horse being left by another horse on a trail ride, so we got a lot of trotting and cantering in, as well as waiting around while she went away, during which Leo got to eat some nice prairie grass.
In our forays away, we addressed right lead canter, which is a little harder for him, so he tends to ignore the aid for it as if he doesn’t hear. Probably a fitness thing. It works to put him in haunches in, or one could think to remember to use the outside leg to hold the haunches steady. Attention to keeping the outside seat bone back also helps.
We worked in the indoor with Archie and Megan for a while at walk and trot. Then we went for a walk hack down to the end of the gravel road. Then we had some walk, trot and canter work in the prairie. I see what you are talking about with the right lead. He would rather take the left, so even if your timing is right, he waits a beat and takes the left. I carried a stick (ok, a boxelder branch that I snagged) and used it once lightly behind my right leg on canter depart for right lead and then he was spot on.
I worked with Leo on the flat with Kelly on Elsa and Megan on Archie. We worked in all gaits and Leo did well, though he mentioned that the load of hay that was standing in the middle of the arena looked delicious! Then we went on a hack around the meadow, using all gaits and he was great. On the way home we all stopped and let them graze. I took off his bridle and let him eat a bunch and also hand-picked him some for enjoying back in the stall. Nice day for all!
Training tips rom the U. S. Cavalry Manual of Horsemanship, 1936, and still holds true today:
1. Be systematic. Before beginning work, fix in the mind a definite program of exercises for the day. Be sure that the exercises for the day are in proper relations to the work of previous days.
2. Be patient. Do not destroy the tranquility of horses by demanding a performance that is too difficult, or by demanding it too early in training.
3. Be tactful and resourceful. Take advantage of the most favorable conditions for teaching a horse a new lesson. Never try to train a fresh horse. Undertake nothing new when the horse is excited or frightened. Do not try train the horse when his attention is distracted. Do not give a new lesson to a resisting horse. Do not send the horse to the stable in the midst of resistances or with a lesson incomplete. Finish the lesson first and then send the horse away calm and tractable.
4. Be moderate. Begin with the simplest movements and exercises. These understood, proceed to the next, less simple. In the early training introduce nothing complex or difficult. Use continuously the same means to bring about the same results, thus aiding the horse’s memory. Ask little but ask it it often; it is by repetition that a horse progresses. Nevertheless, do not let a horse continuously execute a movement incorrectly or in a dull, lifeless manner. Demand attention, correctness and a carriage and action gradually increasing in style and manner, then allow a few moments of complete relaxation. Never strain the attention or tax the strength of the horse. Require no position, attitude or movement which in itself causes the horse apprehension, discomfort or pain.
5. Be observant. Do not attribute every resistance of failure of the horse to inattention or stubbornness. These are often due to ill fitting bits or saddlery, to a poor rider, to lack of condition or approaching unsoundness, to noises, unaccustomed surroundings, or even to the weather.
6. Be exacting. Do not be content with the simple tracing of the riding-hall exercises and figures. Every such exercise or riding-hall figure has for its object to teach the horse the aids and to know how to handle himself in doing so. Accordingly, before taking the first step of a movement, the horse should be placed in a position which favors the simple and natural execution of the movement. The movement will then be executed more easily and correctly.
7. Be logical. Do not confuse the means by which an end is obtained with the end itself. Practically all of the exercises and riding-hall figures are the means for which the horse is rendered easy to manage during ordinary riding. Accordingly do not use riding-hall exercises as a proof of training or routine drill movements as a means of training. The first are the means by which the horse is trained. The second constitute the test and the proof of training.
8. Be liberal. Permit the riders to ride the greater part of the time at will, or, if on the track, without regard to the distances. They then have a greater opportunity to really control and to correct the attitudes, positions and movements of their horses. It also permits the horses to assume their individual natural gaits and avoids irritation by forcing them too soon to take regulation gaits.
9. Be tenacious. Never provoke a struggle which can properly be avoided.
10. Summation. In the horses’ training, great attention should be paid, first, to their conditioning; second, to their tranquility; third, to their training, properly speaking. ANY SYSTEM OF TRAINING THAT NEGLECTS THE CONDITIONING OR WHICH DESTROYS THE TRANQUILITY OF HORSES, IS DEFECTIVE.