Tuesday, March 20, 2012

You know what the BEST thing about Vetrolin is?

Ready to go play in the pasture!

The fact that after you've sponged off your rockstar of a horse with it, your hands smell SO good the rest of the day!;)

In the interest of making sure I had a horse willing to be soft and supple, I repeated what I did last week before our GREAT dressage school on Friday.  I opted out of riding bareback this time though, and strapped on the saddle.  Tied up my leadrope, and hopped on to go out and hack around for 30 minutes.  This time I headed into the back 15 acres where the mares go out.  The land is undulating, with lots of hills, and I AGAIN did not drill anything, just basically "trail rode" around the whole thing.

Tiki met a cow for the first time ... the neighbors raise longhorn cattle, and the pasture where the young things live border the back 15.  Tiki stopped and raised his head and pricked those ears BUT ... he did NOT start to shake lol!  He didn't even blow loudly.  He slowly walked up step by step and tried REALLY hard to touch noses through the fence.  I feel like if one of the cows had tried to run up to him or anything he would have probably tried to bolt, but since they were content to just stand and stare he was really brave:)

Today I rode with Gigi Nutter.  At our last clinic we worked on CONTACT.  She helped me get my timing right so that Tiki could flex at the poll and come down into the contact consistently.  The canter work was pretty sketchy, but by the end she was pretty pleased by the trot work.

Today, we were working on CONTACT.  Some of you may think I was frustrated by this.  I was not.  This time, it was a higher level of contact and connection.  She got onto me last time about being way too quick on the reins, not posting high enough, having my stirrups too short, and constantly throwing away my contact. She reminded me that even a quarter inch of give was making him inconsistent and not giving him the support he needs to maintain his connection.  He had difficulty walking on contact and wanted to jig, jig, jig.

Today, I had a horse ready for a higher level of connection because we'd worked on our homework and improved:)  We also worked on that elusive connection between the transitions; mostly on the downward from trot to walk/halt, and the upward to the canter.  Gigi had to remind me to post longer again, but maybe only 3 times;)  Also, to post between my elbows.  Right, I'd forgotten that!  Apparently I let my hands move a hair forward on the upbeat of my post, so she had me think "backwards" with the hands.  I did a GREAT job of not throwing him away, or of bugging him to death by fiddling with the reins.  He felt LOVELY and forward; I didn't have to nag him at ALL, which during dressage lessons I usually have to.

Once he really settled deep into the contact and settled in to get heavy, she had me concentrate on lifting my hands up and forward, and pushing him into a higher neck carriage, focusing on keeping the flexion at the poll, but lifting the center of the neck, and therefore the back.  Also, she wanted me to change to the wrong diagonal, then post the trot into the canter transition because it is easier that way to keep the aids coordinated.  That worked well:)  She had me trotting so big and forward and crazy that he was stepping into the prints left by his front feet:)  It was like a Janet lesson on speed;)

Once again, an hour flew by quickly!  The majority was spent at the walk and the trot, and there was nary a lateral movement to be found, but I completely and thoroughly enjoyed myself, and my horse looked completely different by the end.  The chatter of the "ladies on the rail" was "Wow.  He looks completely different!":)  Gigi said I was a good student, and she likes my horse:)

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