The past month has been a mixed bag with Cruise. After we had a nice test and score at Intro C, we started working on Training 1 and the wheels kind of fell off. He got slower and slower, more crooked, and occasionally kind of explosive for him. I fiddled around with Mary Wanless concepts. I started doing the Balance Through Movement Method ground work again and applied the under saddle concepts. Both helped but I still was frustrated with the eternal question. Why the F#$@ won’t this horse go forward? And I have found the answer.
My contact has been too heavy. I’ve been unknowingly toddling around with the hand brake half on. I’ve never had anyone explain to me how truly light the following contact should be, that the horse should always be seeking the hand except on the buckle, and that forward riding to that connection is the key. During a moment of frustration, I found RS Riding on FB and was intrigued by Rien van der Schaft’s background but even more by the emphasis he places on correct connection, focus on riding the body of the horse towards the head, looseness, and forward impulse. I bought the Solid Foundation course for less than $75 and it has been such an education.
I’ll leave more details for another post, but just know the first time I went out, got on Cruise, followed his mouth wherever he went with a very light contact, and bump bumped him with my legs to march forward, it was on. He stretched right out to the contact within 2-3 minutes and had the best, most ground covering walk I’ve ever gotten under saddle. When I picked up the trot on the same type of contact and used big circles to slow him instead of any backward hand the trot got fabulous rather quickly. It’s been a revelation how much I was truly not riding my horse back to front. Early days, but so far I am loving the simplicity of this system and how Cruise is responding in such a positive way.