Thursday, 5 February 2015

Day 36: Measuring improvement...


I like to search for cat-like qualities in horse's movement - the elasticity, the soft bounce, the fluid weight distribution between each limb, that joint softness and rebound . Every horse will have some degree of those qualities and when improving movement I like to observe how much of a cat a horse can become ;)
I don't know how long I will work with Joker for yet but regardless of where he ends up I decided to stick to my gut instinct and continue working on his suppleness first before I spend more time on top of him.
It's so easy to spoil a horse, so easy to encourage braced, hollow back and due to chronic nature of Jo's issues, he has way many more bracing instincts than release instincts.

Remedial schooling is like a turtle on a mission to get to the sea ;) Painfully slow, sometimes you stand still, sometimes you go backwards. Sometimes you question yourself every moment whether you should push harder or back off, prioritise activity or ease of movement, ignore certain behaviours or react upon them.

I generally trust my gut feeling nowadays. If I listen to it I usually end up somewhere closer than farther from the right spot. To fine tune that feeling, I stay open minded and learn every day. There is not a single horse that I could think "oh yes, this one is identical as that one so I know exactly what to do here". There might be similarities indeed but all issues are as individual as the horses are.

Following a very, very slow and tiny improvements in Joker's work, today the incremental jump was much larger. He was more expressing, more focused, more elastic even if in his terms this still doesn't mean a huge deal. However, I was very pleased and mostly happy that he showed more joy from the work.

The video below is a short footage that Helen took on her phone as I forgot my camera. He shows some negative emotions through his tail at the start but rest of the video is quite a true reflection of the general theme of his work right now: some nice steps with soft, relaxed neck followed by braced steps.

When changes are so small, I prefer to measure improvement by the level of enjoyment the horse has from the training. Today, he was awesome :)

My plan is to do some gentle lateral work in-hand tomorrow.


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