SO, what has been happening on session 4 with some consistent CZT?
Well, we took our techniques and relaxation to another part of the field and repeated everything, working towards widening our CZ to another area still in the main field. This day we not only tested our relationship in an area we’d not been working in for a while but also with barefoot ‘boots’ on, which isn’t normal, AND just before dinnertime so it was getting to be twighlight-ish…something we rarely do SO….we’ve pushed our CZ in three new ways from the beginning of the week!
This is huge progress, it just felt right to do it and the circumstances allowed for it as I started off trimming his feet in our Agility arena area rather than where we’ve been feeding them recently SO this was a change of area already and I used this opportunity to start here rather than go back to where we’d been working beforehand.
We did quite a lot of ground work to start with and were together from the offset. Checked his relaxation by circling around the field using transitions and changes of direction (COD) all the time, this helps me see if he’s still with me and checking in to my requests or ignoring them because he’s switched off or focused on something else. Popped him over a few jumps to check willingness is there and then some fig 8’s around some thistles which checks flexibility on both sides. All went well. To check true impulsion I asked him to do halt to trot and halt to canter transitions going onto some circles and he did them really well SO I could see he was listening, relaxed, willing, flexible from front to back and on left and right sides……a good time to praise well, treat for effort and saddle up.
The riding was very good, our impulsion was much better and our connection through breathing and focus was much better on my part too. What I compromised on was not riding away from our ‘base’ too far, so we did lots of transitions, turns and fig 8’s in a smaller area than normal but that was a good compromise as it felt the right thing to do as Solly has not worn his barefoot ‘boots’ for years and it only takes one thing to be different sometimes with him.
So…all going well so far with our CZT. I will do a couple more days in this ‘new’ area of the field, maybe cover the whole base area too and then it’ll be time to incorporate the field gate and outside of the gate into the next field on our next 7 day session.
The last couple of weeks CZT has been positive and progressive even though the sessions haven’t always been the same amount of time. Our connection has been getting better, Solly’s impulsion has been getting better, communication and willingness have been going really well and we’ve managed to move from one small area in and around a round pen to over half the field all by doing the same techniques with the same feeling and with the same requests of timing, energy and a balance between fast/slow, left/right, energy/stops and my ideas/Sol’s ideas. Slowly but surely we’ve become more harmonious together and from working regularly, albeit not for long, Solly’s impulsion is improving due to him getting mentally, emotionally and physically fitter and ready to move. Sessions 2 and 3 were roughly the same but with session 3 we had a bit more time and extended the area we were working in a bit more….keeping it positive and progressive.
Here is our second ground session work video….
And our second riding session…..
What I also realised is that it depends on your horse as to how much time you put in. If quite a worried horse lots of small good sessions work well, do a few sessions per week and allow a couple of days off to think about things. Slightly less worried horses can have fewer but maybe longer sessions with a few days to think about things. The ‘thinking’ days are a great way for your horse to think things over and often they come back to a new session with more understanding, confidence and curiosity. Those ‘thinking’ days also help you to figure out where to go next with your CZT, to retreat a bit, to progress a bit to go over what you’ve done or to go over what you’ve done quickly and progress a bit…the last one is where I try to be each time 😉
In this blog category I am going to go through the steps of how I approach, retreat and re-approach with a sceptical horse into an unfamiliar environment. I call this ‘going out of our Comfort Zone’ and by doing that carefully we can retreat back into our normal safe haven and re-approach the scary place as often as we need to until it then becomes a part of our now bigger comfort zone.
I hope to show how I help my horse find relaxation and thereby confidence when we go to a place he, or I, am worried about. Everything will be done through ground work first, then a combo of ground and ridden work and hopefully more and more ridden work to show the progression of opening up our comfort zone.
Today was our first day and we worked on getting back our ‘ground work connection’ – which we had lost a bit because of me being away and not training for a while – through moving feet, mentally and physically being in the moment and trying to become harmonious in our movements together. Here is the video of the ground work.
What did I learn from this session?
Well, our connection was not bad at all really. he was pretty willing but his impulsion was low and he tried to avoid doing some things by putting in his own ‘fun bow’ move which he often uses to try to distract me from asking him to move more. Funnily enough the riding session that I didn’t manage to film due to the camera battery running low, was similar!! funny that!
What will I try in the next session?
From this first session I will now use consistency to do the same training techniques in the same area 3-7 times in a row. Each time, if all goes well, I will progress in some way, either by extending the CZ area a bit or upping the energy levels or working for a longer time….whatever it is will depend on how the horse OR I am feeling can be extended at that time. If things are a bit sticky or unconfident then I will do what I did the day before and always end on a good note. I take each day as a new opportunity to progress and prepare myself for that but I am not going to progress out of our CZ if things aren’t going well. On that note, if I feel unconfident with the riding side I may press through with gaining more CZ progress with ground work to at least not stagnate.