As a working student, I will help take care of her mules for her, brushing and tacking them, and maybe lunging them before she rides in exchange for lessons. I may even be a groom at shows. I will be learning almost constantly, and not just when riding. I'll learn the really important but often overlooked details of caring for the horse and being on the ground with them. I learned that from the time you take the horse(or mule in this case) out of the pasture, you are training him/her. Laura believes in setting the horse up for success and n asking the horse as lightly and subtly as possible, only increasing when needed. One really important thing she stressed as we talked is preparing the horse for anything you do, whether that means leading the horse, stopping, or riding. She demonstrated how she can lead the mules, halting or speeding up, using only her body language---mainly changing the way she breathes(inhaling deeply when going faster and healing to slow down) and creating more or less energy as needed. These things are small, almost imperceptible to people, but horses and mules notice them.
|Laura and Moxie|
After demonstrating this with her mule, she let me try. She told me to focus on a spot, the walk purposefully to that place, creating energy as I prepared to go forward. I also walked back and forth, alternating between going slow, fast, even trotting a bit. It's something that takes a while to learn, but I was starting to get it. Personal space and respect are also very important things she mentioned, and Moxie is really good about it. To back an equine up, she simply walks toward him/her, adding energy if needed. There's no need to yank the lead rope.
Next, she showed my how she tacks up. Again, she stressed the importance of preparing the horse,(mule) running her hands down the legs before putting the boots on. She also showed me the way she places the saddle so that it doesn't restrict the equine's movement. She taught me to feel the scapula(point of shoulder), placing the pad and saddle a bit behind it. This way, the shoulder is covered by the saddle. Then, she taught me the way she bridles, by gently turning Moxie's head toward her, lowering it a bit, putting the bridle one. She showed me where the noseband should sit, two fingers under the cheekbone, and also where the brow band should be, by the indent over the eye. She taught me how to put the surcingle on, the showed me how she lunges.
|Moxie and I.|
To start out with, I'll be going maybe twice a week to work. I can tell I'll be learning a lot. I will be taking lesson on her 17 year old mare(not a mule), but more in depth on that later as this post is long. I'm really excited about this!