Sometimes it's easy to forget there are four savvys. Because it seems our Freestyle is far from perfect, and Liberty is not our strong suit, we have been stuck playing in Freestyle and Online. Today was the day to break out of our rut.
Kristie Smith's Finesse clinic last weekend motivated me to begin teaching Dreamer to collect naturally. That is to say 'collect' her mentally, emotionally and physically. Mentally, Dreamer has become willing and trusting. Emotionally, I think she is more calm and confident than I thought possible.
Today we used the Figure 8 pattern to warm up. She was NOT paying attention at first, continually missing the cone and blasting through the cue to change direction. I could tell she KNEW she was supposed to circle the cone. I broke it down, pushing her with a bigger cue, disengaging her hind quarters, pushing her shoulder out, drawing her after she circled. The Figure 8 quickly looked better and Dreamer started blowing out air and relaxing. She forces me to be a good leader!
Last time we rode, Dreamer was stiff laterally, both right and left. Today we did a lot of lateral bends during our online warm up. I realized I had become lax in ensuring she stayed flexible and supple. It paid off because she was light and responsive to the bit today.
In the January 2007 Savvy Times article, "Collection Naturally, A Level 3/4 Concept" Linda Parelli says, "Instead of just 'collection', you need to think of a collection of words that might describe it, words like "intimacy," "fluidity," "harmony," "grace," "accuracy."
What a beautiful picture that paints. The four steps of achieving collection naturally are: relaxation, longitudinal flexion, latitudinal flexion, and suspension and vertical flexion. Today we worked on relaxation and longitudinal flexion using the Fluid Rein and Snakey Bends. For the first time in many months, I put the Cradle Bridle on Dreamer today. She really likes the C2 bit and responded to my communication. Many months ago, I stopped using the Cradle because my hands were too heavy. I hadn't earned the right to communicate with her via Finesse reins.
While I plan to continue refining MY skills via Freestyle riding--either with the Confidence bit or hackamore--it's exciting to begin playing within this savvy, too.
In closing, Linda says, "As when teaching your horse anything new, do only a few minutes at a time, don't make it a drill, stop before you bore or bother your horse, and always check your own Fluidity before blaming the horse."