Thanks in part to fuel prices, my summer plans have adapted to focus on training, rather than competing. Ledger is well-positioned to continue physical conditioning while broadening his training, and Bellalunaa is just blossoming from blank-slate status.
I have time for a solid session with one horse nearly every day. Sometimes, I can fit in a second lesson with the other horse, even if it's just a quick one focused on a single exercise. Alternating between horses is working pretty well for everyone.
Making it happen, of course, involves flexibility. I'm presently exploring:
I'm also training with a more deliberate strategy than I've used previously. I'm working through the Downunder Horsemanship Method. I'm watching the videos and applying the exercises, in order, as best I can without complete facilities. (What I'd give for an arena, some days!)
I know Clinton Anderson isn't for everyone. He isn't even for me, a lot of the time. I like his earlier work, such as one finds in the classic training series. His more recent "ego-tude," as I call it, rubs me the wrong way -- but that doesn't make his Method invalid.
I do think there’s risk associated with applying a canned method to every horse. Rote application of prescribed exercises regardless of the individual will work...sometimes. Other times, it'll just piss the horse off.
Clinton acknowledges that "feel" is important, and I think he means more than just the appropriate timing of a release. I'm pretty sure he means that each horse should be approached thoughtfully, by a trainer as willing to learn as she is to teach. It seems to me that the exercises can (and should) be applied somewhat differently depending on each horse's physical, mental, and emotional status both overall and during a particular session.
Anyway, I'm pleased to be learning the Method properly after having been exposed to it in bits and pieces for years. Ledger is the second horse who has come to me after being started in this way, and I must say I like the solid foundation and clear "buttons" it puts on a horse. It's a good fit for me right now.
For those of you who are familiar with the Method and interested, here's where we are:
Bellalunaa is a little more than halfway through Intermediate on groundwork. She's almost done with Fundamentals under saddle. Her strong points are retention (seriously, she has the most amazing retention!) and softness. We're still working on a tendency to crowd into me when sending or circle driving outside the round corral, as well as picking up her hind feet.
I don't have an arena (or any land flat enough to create one), so we do all our work either in the round corral or on the trail. Around home, "trail" means mostly rural roads and canal banks. It's not always ideal, but if we let that stop us, we'd never progress at all.
It's gratifying to watch both horses improve day over day, and I have no doubt that all this work will pay off when we get back on the endurance trail!
Thanks for dropping by! I'm an endurance rider in the northwest region of the United States. This blog is about distance riding, training, and the practice of being my best self for my horse. I hope you'll come along for the ride.
The Sweaty Equestrian