Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A week with Kathy and Quick "Brideless, Bareback Jump"

Often people see me doing something like the picture above and think it just happens, out of thin air I could do anything I wanted. In reality even after you have a black string you still need to practice proper preparation. So, I wanted to tell you the preparation that went into this picture:

We had the opportunity to teach at The Horse First Farm a few weeks ago, on our way in to the farm I saw the honeycomb jumps (3+') and thought "wouldn't it be nice to have a picture jumping that bareback and bridless". I knew I had a week to prepare Quick (we would be heading out by the end of the week), and I set myself the goal of building Quick's confidence towards jumping the fence bareback and bridless, not on actually doing it (this way I could be sure to put my principle before my purpose). Quick is already solid Level 3 in his skills and knowledge so I knew the important thing was to have his confidence in the environment and be sure he was tuned into me as a leader. Here is an overview of how the days of prior preparation looked.

Day 1: We went to the playground on line and explored all the obstacles playing traveling circling game on a 45' line. By the end of the session he was confident being away from his herd and confident with the playground obstacles.

Day 2: Review day 1, make sure he still had confidence today - check! On to our next step: After playing some follow the rail to warm up I rode around the playground freestyle and over a few of the lower jumps, we finished on a nice relaxed 'blow out' and I allowed Quick to eat some grass in the playground.

Day 3: Started On line with a few pre ride checks. Reviewed Day 2 for confidence and relaxation - check! On to our next step: I rode over the honeycomb jumps with a saddle and snaffle until Quick was relaxed, confident and 'seeking the jump'.

Day 4: We started at Liberty to get some connection. Then reviewed Day 3 to make sure Quick was thinking over the jump - check! On to our next step: I rode over the honeycomb jumps with a bareback pad and snaffle. This step was more to make sure I found my balance bareback and that I was able to stay out of his way while jumping :-)

Day 5: Again, we started at liberty, allowed him to get some pent up energy out and finished with some great stick-to-me! Next, you guessed it we started by reviewing what we had done the day before: I rode over the honeycomb jumps with a bareback pad and snaffle freestyle (casual rein) until Quick found relaxation. Then we slipped the snaffle off, made sure we still communication (turn right, left, upward and downward transitions, and of course STOP :-), and then we jumped the honeycomb jumps bridless with just the bareback pad!

I hope this sheds some light on the fact that even after you have a black string prior and proper preparation is still necessary. Even though it may seem like Instructors just magically can do 'stuff' often it is only after many hours, days, or months of preparation. As Walter says: Do the most difficult maneuvers with your horse so that he never knows they are difficult. That is what I keep in the back of my mind as I prepare Quick for my goals.

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