Thursday I had my first real day working with Laura. Since I'm a homeschooler, I can work during the day, which is awesome. This time I learned a lot about how Laura trains and had the chance to watch her ride so I could see her do similar things under saddle as she had on the ground. For the next week or so, I will be practicing groundwork, and once I learn those, I can apply them under saddle. Basically I'll be learning not just how to ride, but more in depth on training and why to do certain things. I'll be learning how to recognize when the horse is in balance and the other finer points of dressage and riding.
I started out my learning how to clip a muzzle. Laura had brought out BB, one of her mules, who I would clip. BB is a cute mare(she looks like a dark palomino). First, Laura demonstrated how to clip just the long whiskers on BB, only using enough pressure to take off the longer hairs and going toward the end of the muzzle. She showed how to clip the long, fuzzy hairs under the BB's head and little up the cheek, and then I tried. I shaved off the really long hairs to clean up BB's face and make her look nice. Clipping the face is not too hard at all.
I then put BB"s boots on and turned her out in the big paddock so she could run and play if she wanted to. Next, I got Moxie ready for Laura too lunge and went to watch her ride Dyna. What she does under saddle is similar to what she taught me when lungeing. She showed me at the halt the difference between the horse/mule that is truly round and one simply bending the head. A truly round horse uses his/her back and steps up underneath himself/herself. Staying halted, Laura applied just a bit a leg, and Dyna stepped under herself with her hind legs, becoming truly round. Laura always wants to ask as lightly as possible so the horse/mule is responsive. Laura is also using creating energy in her seat to go faster, and relaxing to go slower.
At the walk, she showed my how she flexes her mount's head slightly to the inside, then outside a few times to test how flexible the horse/mule is at the moment. She makes sure the horse/mule is in self-carraige(balancing with the weight shifted to the hindquarters without help from the rider) by putting her inside hand forward and patting her mounts neck. If the horse/mule stays round, balance, and on the bit, he/she is in self carriage. Then she trots. She does the same thing a the trot, flexing the horse/mule and then putting her inside hand forward to test if the horse/mule is in self carriage. She then canters a bit, doing the same. She then does the same thing the other way. This is really neat stuff that will take my riding to the next level. I'll be more in tune with the equines I ride, and someday when I much better it will be useful in training horses.
After that, she lunged Moxie. Again, she wanted him to become balanced at each gait, teaching me to recognize when he was balance. I recognized it a few times, but not every time. At the end of the lungeing session, though, I was able to see a clear difference in his walk from the beginning: he took bigger, more free strides, and his hind legs stepped underneath him more. She rode Moxie for a bit too, doing the same thing as with Dyna.
I really love be a working student for Laura already. I'm learning something new each time I'm there..