Last nights lesson went really well. First he had me warm Trax up just so he could see how I ride, how he responds and what we do and don't have going on.
What we have is a horse that cannot disconnect his body parts and who does all his moving on the forhand. He says this isn't unusual for a rope horse, and it can be unlearned but it is going to take some time and consistency.
After I rode for a bit with him giving me some pointers he oh so politely asked if he could "step up on him". He rode him for quite a while. He started by asking him to step across with his front while not moving the hind. Not a full spin, just a step or two. If he moved the hind he would correct him by pushing the hind back the way it came into place. Another thing he showed me was the exact opposite. Since Trax wants to move his hind, MK insisted that he did, really fast, and the second he crossed over on the front, then he released him. Then he showed me how to put him the wall and ask to have his front cross away from it, which give his hind end less places to go. It wasn't long before he was easily getting 2 or 3 steps across the front while the hind stayed in place. It is 3 different approaches to the same end, and completely different than what anyone else had shown me.
Then we talked about his face. MK said that horses don't really have hard mouths, what they have is hard bodies, and Trax's body is rigid. I can get him to flex at the poll vertically but asking for some lateral while moving forward seems to send him into a tizzy. So MK spent a good amount of time working on that. Large circles, while asking him to give vertically and laterally at the same time. It really took some work but pretty soon he was starting to get it. The hardest part was keeping Trax moving forward. He said that because his signal to stop has always been pulling on face, when we put pressure on the reins asking for flex, he is wanting to stop. What we want to teach him is that stop comes when leg pressure is released and seat position is changed.
After he rode for a while I climbed aboard and gave it my best shot. I had much more trouble with it that he did, partially because he had spurs to keep that forward momentum and I did not. I did get some results though. I also was doing pretty will on moving the front end. We worked for close to 2 hours, and he only charged me for one, but I threw in a little extra anyway.
What I really liked about this lesson, is that even though he had his own horses to ride, he didn't step up on them until he was done with me. All of his attention was on me and Trax and he was able to watch what I was doing and offer suggestions (and encouragement) while I was riding.
When we were done he got up on a mare he is preparing for some reining competitions. Holy Cow that horse is amazing! Not only was she drop dead gorgeous, she was soft and easy and had the most amazing stop ever. Just watching him ride her was a pure joy.
All in all I am very happy with my decision to get lessons from him. I think it will be worth every penny. One of the things he said to me is that Trax wants to be a good boy. He wants to get it right, and he will. He also said that even with moving on the forhand consistently he is amazing smooth to ride. Once we get him moving off the rear, it will be even more amazing.
Although he agreed that he will never be a top competition reining horse (I knew that) he feels that there is no reason why we can't get him to where he can be relaxed in the arena and hold his own in a ranch riding or ranch competition class.
I swear I came home with the biggest smile on my face!
Oh I forgot to add, that MK is a total gentleman. When I unsaddled he grabbed my saddle and carried it to my trailer, when I was leaving he jumped off his mare and ran over to hold the gate for me, and held the trailer door when I was loading. Who knew that there were still guys like that in the world? I told him it wasn't necessary, I felt bad interrupting his work out, just to have a gate opened for me, but he said he was happy to do it. What a nice nice guy.
The only stressful part was trying to back the trailer in the dark (I can see worth a damn) to get it turned around. I managed to do so with out hitting his pickup or anything else. I was smart enough not to have my pretty paint in the trailer while I did this. No sense ruining a horse that trailers perfect.
Tonight TC and I will go check out the other arena. Hopefully it won't need too much work, I am excited to get start on practicing what I was taught.