Archive for November 18th, 2012

Making Strides

amywink November 18th, 2012

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It has been a very busy 2 weeks since my last post. I’ve manage to breach the plateau I had been on for a while and have made significant strides with both Lily and Blessing –and Lily and Blessing together (more on that in a minute!).

First of all, Lily has had a great deal of fun in the last two weeks. Her progress on her “slide adventures” has been phenomenal and she has manage to teach herself how to go up the slide as well as down the slide.

She has also learned “over” and she is now working on (in dog class) learning to zip through the agility tunnel (gonna have to invest in one of those. it’s too much fun!)

At the beginning of November, Lily got invited to the barn to visit while a clinic was going on. She behaved very well in her public appearance and I used the opportunity to work with her on her “barn behavior”. She watched the clinic very quietly from the sidelines, showing herself to be a very well behaved dog when it came to being around horses and she listened quietly to the discussion of whip-handling as well.

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We took a few breaks to check out Blessing in her stall–she had the day off–and Lily worked on being inside the barn while I did other things.
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This is all important work for her and I was very pleased to see her progress!

Last weekend, I made my own strides with Blessing, finally making a breakthrough in the amount of contact she needs to respond correct. We’d been having some issues with counterbending in her turns. I had been using what I felt was very light contact but since we’d switched to my leather reins, that amount of contact turned out to be fairly heavy (for her). Last week, during my Friday lesson, I learned that instead of a slight movement of my hand, all I needed to do was squeeze the rein between my fingers without moving my hand at all. It’s about the same amount of pressure I’d use to hold a pencil.

The change in Blessing was dramatic and we manage to turn each corner perfectly bent. I’m working now on my consistency and maintaining the light contact at the trot as well as the walk–Blessing is doing fabulous with the change and I feel like I’ve made a huge breakthrough with the contact using the leather reins. I was able to have back-to-back lessons on Friday and Saturday to cement the new contact level with her and this led us to adding a new element to my driving life: a carriage dog. With Francine’s guidance, we began introducing Lily to riding up front so that by the time Blessing comes home (in a month), I’ll have a carriage dog who can ride along with ease.

So, for our first ride up front, Francine drove Blessing while I managed Lily, helping her learn to balance herself on the moving carriage. After a bit of adjustment, she settled right into place.

Is this a happy dog?

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And this week, we kicked it up a notch. I drove and Lily sat in her soon to be regular place. We are going to have to work out a few details but after a little confusion, she rode like a professional.

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