Monday, October 20, 2014

Griffin lately: A Photo-journal

Let's start with this comparison.
April 2012 on top and October 2014 on the bottom.
Saddle, pad, and horse are the same.
We've been doing a lot of work with cavaletti and tiny cross rails that are the same height as the cavaletti would be if at their highest setting because I like having lower building to one higher. Currently, Griffin is hesitant to uncertain with his feet over the first cavaletti, more with it by the second, and solid with the third, fourth, and fifth.
We're currently working with a line set with 3 cavaletti at 9" 1 canter stride apart, 1 stride to 9" vertical, 2 strides to what begins as a 9" vertical and is sometimes advanced to an 18" vertical at the end if he's doing well. We're using this setup in part because it's what I was using for Q earlier in the year and I'm too lazy to alter it, but also because with the spacing I've set everything up at it is very easy to incorporate a lot of circles, figure eights, and serpentines into our work using the cavaletti and jump standards as guides. Without help to move jumps around, I tend to favor a setup that is very versatile because moving things around on my own is tedious and something I tend to do only on days I don't ride at all as there is no safe place to tie the horses in the field while I'm moving jumps.
Griffin LOVES the canter above all other gaits. He has always been this way. Even when we were starting work under saddle he was like this. When we started working on the trails exclusively, he'd always try to canter before he would trot almost in a LOOK AT ME LOOK WHAT I CAN DO way. He has the most naturally uphill and collected canter EVER. He would like nothing more than to canter through ALL these recent exercises. I ADORE his canter, but totally get that he needs to develop his trot, so we've had many conversations about "Easy, trot, trot, easy, easy, trot." And he's grasping that whole trot thing better every time, but still...CANTER. lol
Even when I move the cavaletti to be half the distance apart, he wants to canter through them. His natural inclination over the cavaletti is to do a gymnastic bounce-like exercise at the canter. You've really got to talk to him and convince him that slower is better and is the right answer right now. I'm thrilled that he has so much EagerGO in him as I much prefer it to having to urge him onward constantly. However, his overeager nature means that even ground poles are reason to jump as if it were something of more consequence. He'll calm down, certainly, but his behavior reminds me so much of kids on a playground play-acting they're professionals at their sport of choice - even though their actions are a fraction of what a pro does, in their minds they're doing something much bigger and this is just practice for that day in the future. Anthropomorphizing, I am.
If he's done well with everything else, we advance to do the 18" vertical. This is a photo of one of his very first attempts over it.
Most of his workout sessions lately are 45-60 minutes. The first 15 or so are all lunging. Then we do 15-20 minutes with bending and turning and only low pole-structures. Then if he's executed things with success, I'll bump the back pole up to 18" for the remaining time we work. 45-60 minutes is a good threshold for his head right now. His attention is kept pretty well, as is his patience. The worst he's done re: impatience and acting out is shaking of his head in argument to a request he doesn't agree with or he'll start acting really spooky and wiggy over ghosts that only he can see. I take his hints into consideration as well as the work we've accomplished thus far and then determine how much longer we'll keep going - no matter what, we always end on a good note!
Good ponies get to partake in their Favoritest of All Activities after a good workout effort: water play. Key thing for the rider (me) int his situation? Keep his head UP! Otherwise there is far greater risk of submersion as he makes attempts to roll. Silly horse.

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