We are now up to 26 minutes of walking. Let me tell you, it took a lot of self-persuasion to do Kingsley's walking tonight. After whole day in freezing cold all I wanted to do was go back home and jump in a hot bath!
However, I thought that in the end it's easier to just keep going as skipping days will just lead to more skipping days and we might as well not follow any programme at all.
So off we went to the arena.
Up until last Thursday everything was going really well. Then on Friday I took him down the road and back through the woods for 10 minutes then into the arena for the remaining 10 minutes. He was very excited to be in the woods and marched with rather grand power all the way back to the yard. The moment I went into the arena he calmed down and relaxed a little. A few laps around though and he stopped all of a sudden. I asked him to move on and he put his ears back and refused to budge. I sat doing nothing for a moment, then gave him a tap with a whip onto the side and as he was wearing his exercise sheet it made a bit of a noise. He moved off straight away and continued very well until the end.
Saturday - P. rode him and he started off well on the left rein but the moment she changed the rein he started balking. I ended up walking by his side for 24 minutes and he still tried to stop (nap?) several times.
Sunday - similar scenario but this time he reacted to a tap and walked OK.
Today - back to a good pony! I walked for 26 minutes and he stopped 4 times but it didn't feel as definite as last week and he moved off the moment I touched him with a whip. His walk felt really good but I didn't insist on any particular outline in case some muscular tension was causing discomfort and resistance. I just focused on my breathing as I remembered being taught once and made sure I planned each step well so I could keep him as relaxed and supple as possible.
He did resist with the neck several times but I just kept moving him forward ignoring his giraffe like head carriage and he settled after a few steps each time.
Because of his voluntary stopping I only asked for a few halt transitions and focused on forward movement instead.
Possibly due to his weaknesses I started to notice how enormous effect every single rein aid has on him. If I only go slightly rigid through my arm or hand his back muscles block (feel like they stopped swinging) and he "loses" his hind leg. The moment I consciously give through my arm and soften through my back he regains the swing. I actually did it on purpose today to check if in fact that momentary (and I mean a second) hold/resistance through my hand/contact was causing him to lose leg sequence and the answer is yes.
I don't know if that's the only reason why he stiffens through the back but the moment I made sure I yielded the pressure quicker he walked fine.
Plan for Week 13:
08/02: longer turn out, no ridden work
09/02: longer turn out, no ridden work
10/02: 26 minutes
11/02: 27 minutes
12/02: longer turn out, no ridden work
13/02: 28 minutes
14/02: 29 minutes
15/02: longer turn out, no ridden work