The first order of business for Dragon and I now that we are back under saddle is learning single rein riding. It’s not something I’ve done before – all my riding lessons were dressage lessons where I rode on contact and “channelled” the horse between my reins. When I first started Dragon he responded consistently to my core at the walk, but as we became more “serious” and I started using more rein and leg, he didn’t understand. And his enormous Friesian trot made it more difficult to communicate. He didn’t understand how to balance beneath me and use my body as a guide or a frame for his own.
With the single rein riding, instead of pushing or pulling your horse into position (or more likely, off-balance completely), you turn from your core, and use your reins in a “v” formation, the outside rein lifted from the buckle and the inside rein anchored on the saddle to make yourself into a “post”. Your horse decides to bend with your body and follow your core because it makes any other choice difficult. When they begin to follow, click/treat and release. As long as you remember to “think turn” from your core the moment before you use your rein, your body becomes a cue for your horse. Very elegant!
See our third attempt at this exercise below. This is also called the “Why would you leave me?” game under-saddle.
Looking at this it seems like such a subtle movement. Who knew Dragons could respond to such a delicate process!
I may need to exaggerate the turn a bit more through my shoulders and then fade the cue a bit. I am truly infinitesimal compared to him…