Saturday, April 5, 2014

Positive Progress!

Look at those shoulders!  Learning to not lean forward :)

I know I'm a fairly decent rider.  I'm certainly no genius, but I'm perfectly competent.  I'm learning that all my years of riding alone has caused me to develop this nasty little habit I don't even realize of pulling ... and leaning.  Hmmmm.  Event trainer actually often rides with other trainers to keep her skills polished and on pointe.  She has been working with me to stop going for the reins FIRST, and to think more of using my legs and seat. I take what I learn on Wednesdays, and then turn around and apply that to Jade.

This past Wed, I had the best lesson I've had yet on Kiara.  She tends to get a little stiff in the jaw and inconsistent through the contact, but by really using what I learned riding Pluto, she stayed so nice and soft for me!  Trainer's thing this week was to really think about ELBOWS.  Outside elbow bent and superglued to the hip, hand down.  Inside elbow pointing to the inside hip, think thumb "out", like a hitchhiker.  Inside hand never pulls back, it can lift slightly, thinking forward, but shouldn't come backwards.

We jumped a crossrail, just thinking about rhythm and not MOVING at the jump.  She had me really focus on staying with her in the approach, then WAIT and let her jump up to me.  It was very eye-opening because I feel like I generally don't jump ahead, but I am ... marginally.  She then set some barrels and said Kiara may look, and to be ready, but she was perfect, as usual!  I was prepared with my crop, but all was good :)  That was it.  Simple, but effective.

Nice, soft mare today :)

Today, I rode Jade and thought about shoulders back, and ELBOWS the entire ride.  Lo and behold, the mare was the BEST she's been, EVER.  It's so nice to start having all these good rides because it means we're making forward progress!  There was NO popping of the shoulder, NO dragging to the rail, NO bucking, NO sassiness whatsoever.  She was willing, obedient, and so soft through the bridle, it was lovely.  I concentrated on NOT pulling, at all, and I never used both reins at once.  I concentrated on posting slowly if she got a little quick, and tried to plug in my seatbones and really connect with her back on the down beat of the trot, which was something else Event trainer worked on with me Wed.  What a good girl!  S was out watching and took a few pics, and she was just so pleased to see her be so good!

She was just a little bit NQR behind, so we took it easy, with mostly w/t and I walked a bunch of poles.  She was so good and quiet I moved up to trotting poles, and it was just so good!  At the end, I decided to let her have a little break with lots of pats, and decided to try a little left lead canter.  It. Was. Perfect.  The transition was nice and relaxed, I concentrated on SITTING and keeping my elbows superglued, and not pulling, and we cantered an ENTIRE lap around the ring without touching her mouth.  I had her on contact, but I didn't have to pull or half halt at all, the entire time.  WOW!  She hadn't been to that point with me yet, EVER.  Right lead, the transition was a little bit sticky because she wanted to pick up the left lead instead, and she tried to pop that right shoulder just a hair, so I did have to help her a LITTLE bit, but it was still the lightest I've ever been able to be with my hands.

Overall, she was a superstar!  It's been a wonderful "mare" week, I have absolutely NOTHING to complain about :):):)

Superglued elbows!

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