Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Leslie Law Clinic

Another weekend, another adventure with Baby Z!

I was a little trepidatious when I headed out Friday night. She's in a growth spurt and a little unbalanced right now, and Leslie Law is definitely the kind of person I would want to put my best foot forward!

She loaded into the trailer much better this time, after my friend Ruth really got after her last weekend. She found the same thing I did when it comes to Zahra-- she's not phased by being forced to back up quickly (as in "you don't want to walk forward? Fine! Let's try backwards!!). Its almost like she thinks "Ha! couldn't get me over the tarp / in the water / in the trailer, so I win this round!" And, obviously, that's not what I want her to learn! If you keep the pressure on her, she relents, and then, not only does she relent once, but she will then march right through the water / on the trailer / over the tarp over and over again. You get this girl once, and she says "Ok, you win." But you have to earn every one!

This theme came up again when on Day 2 of the clinic, there was a LIVERPOOL!!! Throughout the session, I kept trying to stand next to it and let her sniff it, hoping she'd be ready to tackle it when the time came. Well, I was wrong. Leslie had us first just walk around it, as close as possible, and then walk away and come at it in trot. She got no where near it as soon as she realized I wanted her to go over it!! We used leg, a guide rail, the crop, a lead horse, and a lounge whip before Leslie finally said "I'm not sure I can get her to do it either, but I will try." And then he got on.

I felt a little justified that at least he had to work for it! She would stop, crow hop, and generally refused to go over it, but all the while, he was reinforcing a set of aids to make her actually do it. And eventually, she did!! After the fifth time over it, she no longer even cared about it! She started stepping on it with her back feet, which while not ideal, is a step in the right direction!

So, what did Leslie do differently?

When I came to the Liverpool, I came in with a "we're going over this come hell or high water!!" attitude. She would NOT turn away, the only way out of the problem was to go forward, over the Liverpool. So, direction first, forward second.

Leslie on the other hand allowed her to run off from the tarp, and let her run into the wall as an alternative. He wanted her to go forward when he asked, regardless of direction. So, forward first, direction second.

Of course, "direction second" still means he was in control of where they were going. If they didn't jump the Liverpool, they ran into the wall. And on their way to the Liverpool, he would make her bend one way, then the other, but ALWAYS going forward! Leg was king, for sure. Hands just decided if they would go left or right with that forward energy. Once you stop, they're useless. As Leslie said later in the day, "A stop is a disobedience of the leg. I never get into my horse's face after a stop, because they did not have a disobedience of the hand."

This was such a good clinic. I'm going to try my best to ride with him again as soon as possible!!

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