That was me: Missing In Action. I took last week off from work and sort of avoided the computer for the duration. As a result I'm way behind on keeping up with my fellow bloggers. My apologies, I'll catch up this week.
As for what happened last week: Monday I had my first ride on Scout since my last lesson on him went bad. I apologized to him for how badly that last ride went and promised that it wouldn't happen again. Fortunately he seemed to accept my apology and the lesson went really well. He did try to spook at random things and counterbend all over the place in the beginning, but I asked him to do some jaw flexions and he soon forgot all about his usual shenanigans. It really worked!
On Wednesday I climbed up on Gwen again. She was fine, if a little on edge. We walked down the driveway, she ate a bit of grass, and then we turned around and walked back to the barn. I asked her if she wanted to stop and graze on the way up but she didn't. She got up to the barn and said, "okay, you can get off now." So I did, and gave her a hug for her effort.
On Thursday, Kate G. came out and worked with Coriander and me. I asked her to help me with jaw flexions and teaching him the pose. When I told her what I wanted the pose for, getting him to lift his back and engage his abs, she told me a different tactic would work better. Instead we did some microshaping with him- we focused on watching for a tightening of the pectoral muscles without having the legs move. Most of the time this leads to the horse rocking their weight back, by focusing on the pectorals first you can eventually get the horse to engage the abs and lift the back.
So we stared at his chest for a while, which worked and he seemed to enjoy it, but she wanted to give me a different method to get him to raise his back. She asked him to back into a solid barrier, the wooden section of the fence, and once he was against it she asked him to back again. Since he couldn't go backwards anymore he was forced to tip his pelvis and raise his back. She cautioned me to ask for very little at this point, he's not used to it and could get very sore very quickly.
I think this is really cool, I now have two good methods to help get his back and abs stronger. For those of you reading who don't clicker train, you don't need food treats to do the second method, but it helps ;-)
I really need to get some video to show the jaw flexions, they're kind of hard to describe without seeing it. There's a good article here where you can read more about it, though you might need a membership to see it. Let me know if you really want it and can't click through the link.
The dentist never made her visit Thursday. Between schedule conflicts on her part and me freaking out about getting Gwen next door during the forecasted severe thunderstorm we decided to reschedule for August. Now I've got a few more months to get her used to being next door and I have more time to play with her and the bit.
Phew! I think I'm all caught up now. For anyone who might be wondering about the mysterious hip-shoulder-shoulder exercise I've alluded to before, this came in my email this morning: John Lyons hip-shoulder-shoulder exercise part 1, part 2, and part 3.