Danny and I had fun today! It was a beautiful gorgeous sunshiney day! We met up with Kelli and headed to the jump ring. Someone had set up a fun little grid exercise. It was two sets of two angled poles on a circle and then a long line of about 8 poles in a row with two poles perpendicularly set so that you could trot down the line of 8 and stay in the middle, or you could get on the circle, do the two angled poles, and then come across the long line of 8 poles and skip over the two. Danny did them all. And while he wasn't the most graceful about it, he did manage to stay on the path. Eventually. ;) Apparently we have some work to do on straightness and not be a clodhopper with your feet. :) No boots for him until he learns to pick up his feet!
So then we worked on our bending to the left. I was getting frustrated so Kelli offered to help. Thank goodness she did!! She pointed out that I needed to weight my outside leg, take up a bit more of an outside rein connection, and stop riding him like a greenbean. But nicer. :) And to try closing my knee (like Julie suggests).
She asked if she could hop on. I said YES PLEASE! At this point he was fairly tired as he's still fully coated and it was 70 plus out. So she was feeling brave. (Danny's never had anyone else on him in his entire life! Just me.... ) Well, right as she went to get on, we noticed that Eva (another 3.5 year old) was being walked around in the dressage arena. So of course Dan was on high alert. Hmmm..... Kelli got on though and Dan was good. Then Nikki brought Eva up to the arena. Oh crap! She very politely agreed to stay just outside temporarily. And Danny was fine. He didn't do anything with Kelli. No antics, though he was a bit sluggish. But she worked with him and really helped me out.
Danny's first rider that isn't me - Brave Kelli
So then I got back on him and it really did make a difference. So... it's pretty much what Cindy has been saying to me, but Kelli added a slightly different thought process which I think it was turned my brain around. Or it just FINALLY kicked in.
So... I need to make sure to keep my left leg at the girth and not back at his hips. He can't bend around my inside leg if it's back at his hips. (Cindy has said this repeatedly too). Then I need to keep a slightly firmer connection, take a little hold of the outside rein, and use an opening rein. (I believe Cindy has said this too but it didn't exactly sink in and I kept crossing over with an indirect rein. It took quite a few reminders from Kelli, so it's a really bad habit of mine). He has to turn his nose in to be able to bend around my leg. So start with the turn by using an opening rein, little bumps with the inside and outside reins as needed, and most importantly, push with my inside leg at the girth BUT.... (here's the part that I think made the difference) keeping my weight in the outside stirrup. In reality, I don't think I should have all my weight out there, but for the moment, it's working for me. I think I've gotten so obsessed with pushing him out to the outside, I'm collapsing to the inside and effectively pushing him into the inside. If I focus on sitting in my outside stirrup and think more of pulling him to me with my inside leg, it really helps realign me properly. And then Danny can cooperate. :) YAY!!! Thank goodness because I was getting frustating.
So... track left. Weight in my outside stirrup, close my inside leg the WHOLE WAY DOWN and even close my left knee if I need a little extra more. No spur, no kick, just a light press or tapping even. Opening rein on the inside and then soften when he gives. And it works. Despite him being tired, he did get it. And it's lovely because when I get his body lined up right, he naturally falls into this lovely soft frame and reaches for the bit. :)
So now, just to remember that and not fall into the old traps. Sigh. So anyways... We went for a fun hack afterwards and as Kelli exited the ring with Arwyn, Dan jumped into the canter and scooted off! Ha ha.. His antics returned. We had a nice hack and Danny was pretty good. Though he did spook at a stump, although it was right as I was thinking about asking Kelli if we could trot some. And then he trotted just fine. And then as we were walking past the hay barn some birds flew up inside and we could hear the wing flutter. And he bolted/scooted sideways and spun and then was completely fine and back to walking on the buckle like nothing happened. Hee hee. He's such a weirdo.
But I love my weirdo.
Oh, and then tonight, I was lasering Fleck and he put his head on my head and used it as a headrest. He's such a goof. But I was able to vaccinate him with two shots with no halter, loose in the pasture. Good, but goofy, kid. :)