Soooo ... :) Nicole finally rode my boy! He was SO good for her. I just love watching him go. I ALMOST love watching him as much as I enjoy riding him. I had a bit of a realization Monday, watching Nicole ride Tiki; it's not rocket science, since Susan the dressage trainer said exactly the same thing I realized. His trot work is SO much better; I mean, MUCH better. It's time to really concentrate more on his canter work now. I've killed myself working on transitions the last 2 1/2 weeks with no stirrups, and those have really improved.
Tuesday, I had a GREAT no stirrups ride. I did a lot more cantering than usual, and it felt really good. But anyway, back to Monday! Nicole did a wonderful job on the flat; his LACK of forwardness actually took her by surprise. It did me too, at first. That's why I wear spurs when I ride him. I set up a gymnastic down the center of the ring; 3 bounce cavs, one stride to a crossrail, 2 strides to a vert, 2 strides to another vert. Set the crossrail high, and the 2 verts at 2'6. He went through well. The hardest part was the bounces because they were set on a short turn. Looked good! Nicole did a great job; it's intimidating to jump a horse you don't know through a long gymnastic off a challenging turn.
I slowly raised the last jump until it got to 3'6 ... that magic number:) Nicole went through 3 times at that height, then was done. Tiki got to where he really raced through the first, low part, but jumped like a rockstar over the high part. Once I get my stirrups back, I'll work him over some LOW gymnastics, and really make him wait and not rush to get to the high part. He does it so easily. I was really proud of him and Nicole; they did a really great job!
Yesterday, I set the poles down as poles, and worked on steering, walking on contact, trot/walk transitions, and lots and lots of circles. Alternated reversing through TOTF, and TOTH. I LOVE a horse that moves off your leg. Makes me happy:) Walked through the pole gymnastics, then alternated directions off it at the trot, focusing hard on proper bending and soft contact. Picked up my canter on the straight lines, nailed the lead every time, and came to a halt/back. He has a bad habit of LEANING on my hands and trying to snatch the reins through my hands when I'm halting or doing a downward transition after he's gotten "woken up". By the end, he felt great. Soft, supple, and oh so willing.
Today, I rode him in a super comfy bareback pad and a halter. Went into the pasture and walked hills. It was the best he's been in weeks in there. He'd been spooky, jiggy, and a general butthead in the pasture the past few weeks. Today, he was as perfect as he could be. Tomorrow and Friday are my final 'no stirrup' days, thank GOODNESS! I'm ready to have them back:) Not sure yet what I'll work on; will update after I've done it!