On Saturday we had our normal jump lesson, but we kept it short and sweet. Laurie had us come quietly and rhythmically to the jumps, and really focus on relaxation and stretching down in between fences - especially when going by spook-worthy things. Overall it was a good lesson.
Laurie has been telling me that I need to be influencing Hemie more - more often, and more effectively. I am starting to realize that I've been an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" type of rider - mainly addressing issues rather than asking proactively for improved performance. Something for me to think about.
Saturday night I went to my 10 year high school reunion. Which was a fascinating, entertaining, and overall really cool experience. I'm glad I went.
On Sunday we went for a trail ride. It was a lovely day. The horses were a little up for no particular reason, and Hemie spooked and slid down a steep drainage ditch. We hopped up out of it fine and went on our way, but it made me realize that I finally have developed a seat for him - surely I'd have fallen off of him if that happened to us a year ago. Some horses are very comfortable and easy to stay on; Hemie is not.
After the trail ride, the horses were still a bit up, so we turned them out together to run around and play. After much squeals, rears, bucks, and prancing, they had some cute cuddle moments.
Hemie and Levi - BFF
Monday Hemie had off but Tuesday I did a flat ride. After about 20 minutes of solid work, TK joined us and graciously gave me some pointers. Hopefully I can make that a regular occurrence! Here's what we're working on:
- Continue to focus on connection to the left rein, no matter which direction we're tracking.
- Lots of transitions, changing direction, circles, zig-zags, random patterns, etc, to change things up.
- For now, when tracking right, let go of insistence on inside/right bend while connecting to left/outside rein. We're picking our battles here.
- To work on right bend, let go of outside rein and focus solely on hind end engagement and bending through ribs, not neck.
- When he gets behind the leg and behind the bit, change something. Do not start a fight by pushing and pulling at the same time. Rather, down transition to walk, or ask for stretch, or focus on relaxation. Figure out what gets relaxation fastest.
Pointers from TK:
- Keep Hemie's attention at all times; he gets disengaged when his attention wanders. He needs to be focused on me at all times throughout dressage tests, so I need to be more mindful in practice.
- Right now my releases to reward him are dramatic (I use uberstriken - inside hand comes forward to pat neck, rein flopping in the wind for a moment), but he needs that right now. Over time they will become more and more discreet until its just a softening of the elbow for a moment.
- Squeeze the inside rein, or open the rein, as an alternative to uberstriken.
- If he gets behind the leg, focus on getting connection - not necessarily stretch or roundness.
Hemie got a turnout before the ride, since he'd had Monday off.
Hack Wednesday, lesson Thursday, then unknown holiday weekend plans.