Usually when I ride Roxy, I just hop on, go through the paces, and do a gymkhana pattern. On Thursday however I had an extremely rough day at work. We had 8 babies instantly, 4 were teething, 2 were new (so they were fussy, confused, and wanted their parents). Believe it or not, I don't do well with crying. I know it seems crazy for an infant toddler teacher to not do crying, but I just don't. And usually our class has minimal crying. However, Thursday was madness. So what was going to be a day off from the ranch turned into a necessary day on.
Instead of the usual workout I chose to really do some training. Roxy did some reining work, and she loved it. Roxy is SO forward, sometimes I just want to lope, not hand gallop, I just want a nice little lope. However, Roxy interprets 'lope' as 'run as fast as possible without falling down'. So after warming her up really well I did some reining exercises.
I started by loping a spiral. Starting with a 30ish meter circle, and winding down to a very very sharp circle, under 10 meters. We ended with a slide, and did it in the other direction. She did great! The idea behind this method is that she physically can't run in a small circle. So as we continue to lope she is forced to take smaller strides and to collect.
After that we did small slow and large fast circles. I think giving her the cue to speed up is helpful, because she understands that a hand gallop is something that has a cue. Here is the exercise:
I used a barrel to mark the 'bottom' of my circles. Both circles had the same 'bottom'. The first circle was just the width of my arena, which I am guessing around 50 feet probably more, the second circle was about 1/4 of the size. I had her start at the small slow circle, repeating it on a loose rein until she carries herself nice and collected. Then, at the barrel, I asked her to speed up staying in a lope, just an extended lope. I only let her do one or two of these circles before asking her to collect again.
Now let me back up for a moment, I started her at the trot. We jogged a small circle, then trotted a fast one. I didn't focus on trotting it for very long because Roxy knows the difference between a jog and trot quite well. If your horse has issues staying consistent at the trot you'd want to start this exercise at the trot.
Tomorrow I plan on doing some pleasure work with her. Lets see how she does with that!
What exercises do you love to do? What issues are you trying to work through with your horse?