I had the best lesson yesterday.
We started by warming up with an excellent, forward trot. Kip has such a great rhythm, and is so willing to work. He really is a joy to ride. Then Anne had us show her our turn on the haunches. In our last ride, Kip got confused and frustrated when we were practicing this so I was a bit leery. I did make my self as clear as I could, and let him know I was not going to ask for a canter — that is really what throws him, when he knows (or think he knows) a canter transition is coming up he does not want to listen or do whatever little exercise I am having him do to prepare for the canter – he wants to canter Now. Now. Now! Anyway, I asked for a few forward steps, left leg at the girth, right asking for sideways movement, and he gave me some great sideways steps for a turn on the haunches left. Good — now to the right. He stiffened up and counter-bent a bit, but I was able to get him to wrap around my right leg and relax a bit, and he finally believed me that this was different then asking for canter, and he gave me a very solid turn on the haunches right. I need to practice this with no canter transition until we are solid. Or do it at the walk a bunch, and then ask for a canter on the last one.
We then did some circle work, getting him through the bit, lifting his back and really reaching under himself to the left. He has a lovely bend going left and is really starting to stretch though his topline. This trot is much slower but more connected than the working trot that I have been schooling; now that he is stronger I can ask for him to carry me and he is getting it. So nice. Again, the right is a different story, I am mostly asking for more action from his hind legs, and for some flexing in the jaw, and move the shoulders to the outside — much stiffer this way and not quite as strong, so going to the right we are working on finding the pieces rather than putting them together, like we are on the left.
We were in the indoor arena because the weather was terrible – this spring has been really wet and lots of hail–no fun in a metal-roofed arena – so we did cavaletti work on a figure eight. I am finally feeling confident enough to let him canter at his working speed, which feels really fast to me, but he is able to carry himself better than at the speed I want him to go. When I get it through my head that he is quick, then I have a much better balanced, more in control ride, even though it is fast (really fast!!) But his canter is developing into this great uphill bouncy thing that is really easy to ride. The main thing I have been working on is to keep my leg on, and to steer and adjust with my legs and seat (step in that outside stirrup!!). I can only concentrate on one thing at a time, so now that my legs are doing ok I need to start concentrating on my hands — my release leaves a bit to be desired. I’m not dragging on his face, but I am also not giving him the freedom he needs to use his neck and shoulders. So this week, I will concentrate on that. Onward!