Monday, October 11, 2021

Messy Lessons and Restarting Clicker Training

Our jump lesson last week was... messy. It wasn't until then that I realized how "on" I've managed to be in most lessons with JT. Since this lesson over the summer where I repeatedly rode a 5 stride line the same dangerous way and got a bit of a stern talking to, I have been "doing something" pretty successfully in our lessons. But Friday... meh. I have a million excuses... upping the ante of the courses we're doing, pouring rain, some personal life stuff. In any event, I felt a bit overwhelmed and a bit like I was just riding by the seat of my pants, not in a good way. 

Long spot from a rollback turn

Nothing to do but try again though. I think JT's systematic approach has really helped me be able to continue riding and thinking through almost all of our lessons. She doesn't tend to overwhelm her students and has this amazing ability to read what they need in that moment. The position fixes have been one example. Each thing has been introduced, reminded, reinforced, and solidified for the most part before moving on to the next thing. 

1) Eyes - look at the jump. I cannot tell you how life changing this is. I know if we're going to get a long or short spot. I know how to make the turn. It is amazing how well this works and I swear no one has ever told me this before. Surprisingly, it hasn't tipped my head/eye down over the fences either. I'm not sure what witchcraft that is because she says look at it until you're over it basically, but in pictures I'm almost always looking up/ahead. 

2) Stretch up - self evident what this means 

3) Hands to the jump - the difference in his relaxation is amazing when I'm soft and relaxed with hands to the jump the last few strides. I've also regained a release I last had many, many years ago. Often in pictures I can see I'm appropriately pressing my hands into his neck instead of this nasty, floating, not automatic but not crest release either, that I'd developed. That often led to pulling on the horse's face at some point over the jump, so this is a massive improvement. 

Focusing on these items one at a time has really kept me from feeling overwhelmed. But Friday was an anomaly in which I felt completely overwhelmed. Watching the video it was a mess, but not as much of a mess as it felt. I spent the rest of the day Friday dwelling on how it felt, but I think I've wrapped my head around it and am acknowledging it is okay to have an off day. 

In other news, I finally restarted clicker training Yosh. He blew me away with how quickly he learned the cell phone alarm on a day I was lunging him in equibands. I forgot my watch so set a 2 minute timer on my phone - 2 minutes walk left - timer - 2 minutes walk right - timer - 2 minutes trot left - timer - 2 minutes trot right. By the 3rd time the timer went off, he halted himself to wait for me to walk up to change the line. A few WEEKS later I was timing the equibands under saddle to not overdo it. When my phone went off in my pocket he went from trot to halt with no prompting from me. Okay, okay, you're super clever Yosh. Let's see if I can do something productive with that.

So we started head away click and treat yesterday. I hadn't done this well in the spring, and he had more aggressive/pushy tendencies then anyways, so I had given up clicker training. But it took all of a minute yesterday before he was very clear on keeping his head straight and in his own space in order to get the treat. I started in the cross ties so he was somewhat limited and couldn't fully mug me, but he figured it out really quickly. Clever, clever pony. 


  1. oh man, while i understand the sentiment completely, i also 100% do *not* see the mess in that video haha. we are always our own worst critics, but i think you guys look pretty great esp considering the circumstances!

    1. Thank you! Maybe it was more mentally/emotionally a mess than truly coming out physically, because JT and my friend watching/filming both said the same!