Sigh. Another week has flown by. This is the FIRST weather we've had since ... May, where the temps have dipped below 70. We have had a couple of GLORIOUS mornings:) Joyce thinks Muffin has been enjoying those;)
Had a nice ride yesterday. I did some "field dressage"; last time I did that he was super fantabulous-amazingly so! Yesterday, he started out pretty stiff in the neck and jaw and was pretty tail swishingly fresh. Testing out a head shaking theory, I coated him in fly spray, and tucked the forelock under an ear net. I was feeling sort of silly and cheeky, so I used my sparkly/satiny ear net. It is completely ridiculous and I would never use it in public, but it made me smile:) I have decided, unequivocally that it is his forelock hitting his ears that is causing the head shaking. He has a little bit of a shake as an immediate reaction when I bridle him. He also has a little bit of a shake when he's showing "attitude". But the incessant, irritated shaking is due to ear irritation, I'm sure of it. The only time he tossed his head out in the field yesterday was when flies completely ignored the liberal application of Repel-X, and latched onto his neck anyway.
Star was not cooperating, and was grazing about 50 feet away from mine and Tiki's work space. There were cars driving down the road. Susan's horses kept running around their pasture. Distractions GALORE! I'm so glad I finally recognize what it feels like to have him correctly working in a dressage frame; 6 months ago, I probably would have accepted what I had in the first 5 minutes as "pretty good!", and not gone further. Instead, I circled, flexed, ASKED, kept my leg on, and he got with the program. He did not buck or otherwise act up. His head would 'giraffe' every once in awhile, and he would overflex his neck to the right and drift left towards Star, but outside leg/outside rein fixed that problem. I trotted for about 20 minutes, both in small circles, and in a nice track around a corner of the pasture, and following the fence line, then cutting way across. Basically, I kept mixing it up.
For safety's sake, I kept the canter both directions on a 20m circle. I didn't trust him not to be a little turd, and his canter has been HUGE in the dressage saddle lately; to the point that I have been having difficulty SITTING it. He actually felt pretty nice and uphill, and even though I could hear his tail SWISH SWISHing, he seemed to be happy enough. I finished with a canter figure 8; 2 10m cicles with a straight line simple change through the walk. Must have done that literally 20 times. I just KEPT on going, until my transitions were clean, straight, and prompt. I'm trying to refine his contact THROUGH the transitions; I tend to drop him and not support enough. He tends to hang and pull me down through the downwards, and lift his head and hollow his back/neck in the upwards. Also, my transition from the walk to the canter was consistently slightly disorganized; I quit when I got 2 straight up WALK to CANTER transitions and NO trotting. He does those transitions perfectly in the ring when we're jumping;) Now to apply those to the dressage ring!
Tomorrow I will probably take my stirrups off the cc saddle and work on me a little bit. I would like to hop over a cavaletti or 2, and work on my posting trot. Will probably wing it, and work on some sort of flat pattern to get him bending and relaxing his jaw. Regardless, y'all will read about it here after it happens!