Our final day at Summer Camp was a fabulous one. The relaxation of being someplace for a few days already made all of our work that much easier and gave us some opportunities to dig a little deeper with our goal of "relating socially."
Sometimes when I hear myself regurgitating Summer Camp lessons I can hear myself sounding a little "woo-woo," But having gone through it, I know that it's less about buzzwords and crystals, and more about just figuring out how to behave (consistently) in a way that makes sense to our horses and allows them to learn well.
I don't want to get into the Parelli debate on here, but I recognize that Parelli himself was a pretty impressive horseman, and I think his theories make quite a bit of sense. Of course, I also think that some of the cult-ish followers have absolutely no clue what they are doing, or why they are doing it. There is nothing magic about a carrot stick. Nor is there anything magic about Buck's flags. Nor does chasing your horse with said flags make them "join up." Having an impeccable feel of when to increase or decrease pressure is what gets your horse tuned in. Good observation skills, good timing, and control of your energy is more important than what implement you use to assist you. Cowboy Man uses a lunge whip to make his presence and energy bigger. I use the same (because I have one), but I'm sure you could use a cone, or a rake, or a ribbon or whatever works for you.... (tangent)
Anyway, my point being that I have a hard time describing what we do there and aptly conveying how simple, easy and effective it is. Back to Sunday - we repeated all the stuff we had been working on, standing, snacking, leading, yielding to "social" pressure, etc.
P2 was being great. I worked her over a few obstacles (bridges, steps, logs) and did a lot of hand grazing while we watched other horses work in the arena. Hand grazing is such a great opportunity to practice all our stuff because you don't have to "make a snack" there just is a snack, everywhere. I was mindful to deliberating asked Prairie to raise her head and move her feet every few minutes so I didn't inadvertently get dragged around by a lawn mower...
Finally we went in and Cowboy Man had me work Prairie free for the initial join up session. It took (no joke) like 20 seconds. She galloped around the ring like a loon for 2 laps, then came right back to me like "what are we doing today? where are the snacks?"
So then I led her all around stopping for snacks and moving her at my whim. After a few minutes of flawless work, I left to go tack Prairie up. Cowboy Man had informed me that he would be removing one of my reins (crap).
in fairness, he didn't remove it entirely, he just tied it up so I couldn't touch it. Then he handed me my other rein (singular, solo, uno) and set me off. at first I stuck to the rail of the ring and worked on my walk/halts with no rein contact.
Prairie was surprisingly responsive, so I started getting cocky and doodling around the ring. Walking over poles, piles of sand, and around barrels. Basically anything that tested my steering. It was... better than I expected. After working with Cowboy Man a bit on our starts and stops he turned his attention elsewhere and I started playing with some "lateral" work. It wasn't super pretty but we got some good leg yields on the rail, shoulder fore and haunches in that really wasn't that much worse than when I have both reins and use them freely. I made a mental note to perhaps drop one/both reins during our next dressage test. can't hurt! (much).
After testing P2 to see how comfortable she was with me flipping my rein around her nose to switch sides, we wandered out of the ring and stomped around in the pasture for a bit. When she was still licking and chewing 10 minutes later I slid off the beast, called it a success and we were done.
Here's a short clip I forgot to upload. but it's from the first day with P2. This was the first join up session so Cowboy Man is working a little closer and a little slower, but you get the idea. Basically he's looking for Prairie to be relaxed and readily following him, here you'll see her looking a little confused/leery. You'll also see him wait for her to soften before she can shove her mouth full of carrots. :)