A Freisian’s Journey on the Path I (3)

Because some of the slow, intense and close work can build up tension in a horse like this, after his break, I decide to work at greater speed with a greater sense of space and liberty. Ideally, the horse should move enthusiastically and joyfully. This requires the horse to release his tension and braci-ness. At first I send him in a circle, with more energy and enthusiasm than I showed previously. Without proper understanding from the intitial work, a bracing horse might just become more tense when you add more action to the request. The Freisian moves rather nicely, first yeilding his right hindquarter to circle clockwise; then I reverse him by asking for the shoulder to yield, and immediately turn to work on the left hindquarter as he comes off the rail.

Now something peculiar happens. He comes off the rail rather willingly, but in this session I am asking for more enthusiasm, so I throw the rope to touch his left hindquater, and the horse is somewhat startled into attention. This causes the following reactions

1. He counters by bracing in the right shoulder and right hindquarter at the same time.
2. He throws his left hindquarter out into a brace.
3. With his left side braced, the right side in a sense “falls into” his left side, and he stumbles sideways.

The good news is that the horse moves off of this blunder rather softly by first, releasing the bracing in his left, and then yielding nicely in the hindquarter– which is what was asked of him at the beginning of the sequence.

The entire episode seems to have brought up some of the natural enthusiasm of the horse, as he breaks into a canter from an expressive trot in a balanced and entusiastic way along the far rail. You can hear his owner’s happiness at witnessing this. You will then see he trots nicely down the near (right rail) since he is now working without tension and bracing.

When he stops and I approach, his habit returns, and he turns away from me, bracing with the left hindquarter. He is quite insistent on keeping this between me and him, and so I turn him by moving his right shoulder couterclockwise– which exposes his left hindquarter to me, without getting into a fight or fuss over anything. It all happens quite naturally and effortlessly. This is at 1:36-1:49 in the clip. As he moves off, you can now see me alternating back and forth between the hindquarter and the shoulder, so the Freisian doesn’t “rest” on a braced limb. A few trots later, he again braces in the left hindquarter, so I once again turn him with implied pressure on his right shoulder, once again, exposing the bracing left hindquarter. The next move is wonderfully soft– as all the bracing disappears from the left hindquarter, and the horse moves gently and softly to face me.

He trots off to the rail, and there is a sense of bracing in the left hindquarter– which is his habit when he puts himself on the near (right rail). But happily he turns softly by yielding off the rail to face me. A real breakthrough! which he repeats as I approach him an turn him around, completely off and parallel to the rail.

I end with an experiment of putting implied pressure directly in front of him– which the horse did not respond to.

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