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Extreme Mustang Makeover – Leela Week 5
 By SuperLevi   •   26th Mar 2016   •   1,432 views   •   0 comments
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This week my mustang, Leela, was becoming more and more proficient at her walk, trot, and canter in the arenas. Not only is she transitioning between gaits well but she’s also learning to hold straight lines and circles. With that said, I’m having to do a lot of work to keep her in a circle since her shoulders tend to drift out. It’s unfair to expect her to canter a perfect circle at this point – Leela is hardly able to do a perfect circle in the round pen, let alone out in the open arena. This will come together with time and more conditioning.

In addition to learning better transitions, I worked a lot more with her learning her body parts and isolating different leg cues. This will help me have better control of her shoulders, ribs, and hindquarters, which will benefit us in everything we do undersaddle. For example, circles would certainly be easier for the both of us if I could hold her shoulders and create bend with my legs rather than using as much rein. High up at the girth area is where she’s learning to move her shoulders. To teach this, Leela has been started on baby pivots that will eventually be a spin by time the makeover comes around. I’m also having her do a lot of changes of direction and figure eights to feel when my leg ask for her to turn.

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Hindquarter control is equally as important as shoulder control. Far back on her barrel is where I cue her for her hips to move. She is learning to turn on her forehand at the moment but in time that will build to a haunches in, help with lead changes, and having malleable hindquarters will assist her to understand backing up in figure eights. But those maneuvers are still weeks down the road, for now a turn on the forehand is plenty.

More centered on her barrel is where I’ll eventually ask her for lateral movement and to ultimately bend. Lateral movements would include maneuvers such as side passing and leg yielding. I always start training a horse to move their shoulders and hips first before moving their ribs. A green horse can easily become overwhelmed with too many new cues at once so it’s important to introduce a gradual progression of new ideas.

Although the most important part when in a trail class or obstacle course is getting over the obstacle, in a judged event there is always ways a rider can increase their score against their competition. Since I knew that my little mustang could cross the cowboy curtain, water, and bridge, one of the things I worked on improving was her straightness. Approaching and exiting away from an obstacle in the center gives a cleaner look as opposed to a horse and rider pair who still go over the obstacle equally as well but drift out to one side at the end. We also worked on maintaining fluentness and confidence to minimize hesitation at the obstacles.

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The straightness and fluid motion that we are working on with the obstacles translates perfectly back over to our arena work. Together, Leela and I are both learning the basics of the discipline of Dressage. A foundation on Dressage will only expand our horizons regardless of the directions we might go in the future, so I’m very grateful for the opportunity and learning experience. There is much to be done and improved on before the makeover competition but I’m pleased thus far with how much progress has been made in such a short time.

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Extreme-Mustang-Makeover
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