Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hope's lost affections never hurt the brave

Yesterday was a mess. Literally. Pony was muddy, pony was also a wreck under saddle. After an 'educational' lesson, it was a bit of a letdown. I think maybe I was expecting too much of him-and undoubtably, myself. Sore, stiff and tired, it was pretty messy.
Disspirited to say in the least. And that I tried to ride with a dressage whip made it even more majikalfuntime. Eagle, for the record, and crops don't mix well. Traditionally, it's just 'no'. Don't even go there.

And so I was thinking I'd smarten him off my leg and use it to help in bending and moving off my leg. Sigh. He moved off my leg, alright. With his nose in the air, locked against the bit and just HAULING forward.


Today was mom's lesson though. I was sulking about, not really wanting to go and let her (and Diane) see the trainwreck-to-be. Mom takes lessons with Diane, incidentally. But I eventually dragged myself out to the barn and..magic!

My horse was already groomed for me. :D I could get used to that, I think. Most of my tack was already downstairs, too. So I just had to grab saddle, girth & pads and then tack up and I was set to go. I had been bracing myself for another hour-long demuddifying session.
Didn't happen! I was thrilled.

My conscious experiment today was to ride without a standing martingale. My first show of the season will be a dressage show at the end of April (Gack. I'm going to hell...) and I know that martingales are a nono. So I took it off.
Normally (Or previously) I hadn't bothered because he didn't need one. I fell into the habit at school when they were all "MUST.USE.KTHNX". and then after, he was being head-flippy-obnoxious at the canter.

So. I thought I'd give him a chance.

And contrary to expectation (Murphy's law..) he was actually pretty good. My main focus today was half-halts. I've always botched them. I tend to pull when I'm 'up' instead of sitting (at the trot) so I brace my back and lock and pull.
I was talking to myself "Up, down, up, down" and only halfhalting-one single, fast, HARD halfhalt out to my hip, when I needed one, at the time I said 'down'.

It worked.
Surprise surprise.

We also got much better trot-work for that. The one thing based on that that I'll have to work on is to keep contact on the inside rein even as I halfhalt with the outside.
Also: Need to work on keeping him from the wall. Little git keeps having a love affair with it, and I will not tolerate being rubbed against a wall!
Well. No, not really. He just drifts left. And doesn't respond to the left leg well. (Might re-try dressage whip thing once I get brave enough. Ergh.)

But the true triump today was a canter. Cantering to the right was blech. We just barely got everything settled then I went "K, good, we'll stop there." His head was flippy and up and obnoxious. I hate flippy heads.


Do not poke your nose up in the air to avoid my halfhalt, you little jackass. Don't you dare.

So I was frustrated with that (and at the time was the only person in the ring. Yay funtime!)

And then I did some trotwork again (I always try to have time between canter work because Eagle has as "CANTER? YAY! WE CANTERED ONCE. NOW WE'LL JUST CANTER FROM NOW ON THNX." mentality) and worked on downward (and upward) transitions with those halfhalts.
I was looking for smooth downward transitions that made him step light in front and rock back on his butt. Not just crashing onto his face. And do it instantly, not just get a "I'll think about it. In another 15m, k?". Upward transitions, I'm trying to keep smooth and calm-not just 'launching' into a trot.

So we get to the left lead canter. Decent transition. Really fast, starting to get unbalanced and blah.
I keep turning him. Not on a circle but I Let him go straight as long as he was being good and then would turn and halfhalt him at the top of the arc-hard, fast to the outside hip and rocked him back onto his butt.
I also was soft in my legs, not pinching with my knee but holding with my thigh and upper calf. And just softened my back.

It was there. I was so happy! Even better, Diane and Mum both saw it. That was my true 'success'.

And then downward transition (and it was right when I asked for it with the halfhalt, and balanced!) and then we did some stretchy trot circles-working him down and out, loose in his back while coming down into the bridle without coming back with his nose.

Then I proceeded to hop off and let mom get on to cool him down.
He needed a little 'reminder' at the block-he's good for me, for the most part, now. But Mom's a new basket of beans. Bah, humbug.

He's also starting to get reluctant walking up to the block. So I might just start walking him there, standing, give treats, walk away.. Repeat. And then get on.
I don't like his reluctance to move forward next to it. Sigh.

So turned him around in circles, and held him over for mom. He tried to walk off the isntant she got on (something he's finally stopped doing to me). I made him back up. And then she just walked with him.

"Mommy" complex showed up. He kept turning back towards me, and she let him. It's kind of cute, he looks to me for reassurance and to know that it's 'okay'.
Funny: She asked me "Is his walk always that big?"

He was stepping over a bit-maybe an inch or two.
His normal is four+ inches. I told her she was holding him back, actually, because she was tight.
Made her talk to him (About how ridiculous I was being, sigh.) and that really relaxed her and got her laughing.
And he started stepping through completely.
It was nice.

Mom untacked, cooled off and groomed.
My horse?
We're getting there. I just have to keep going forward. No room for "Should have done"s.
No use looking back.

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