Starting to polish some edges
March 21, 2012 Leave a comment
Christy put us to work tonight on some easy patterns, so I could start working on timing and polishing our many rough edges while also getting back into shape. As we walked, she reminded to me to move “hips to hands” rather than bringing my hands back toward my hips. “Hips to hands” creates following contact. “Hands to hips” constrains.
Moving into the trot, Derby felt pretty good and we got to work doing a simple pattern consisting of a 20m circle on the long side and then changing rein across the diagonal. It’s a good exercise and revealed some weaknesses on my part – I need to work on those trot diagonals.
My indecision about when to change my diagonal is reflected when Derby starts to wriggle and stray off the diagonal. I’m trying to change from immediately changing my diagonal to doing so as I go into the corner after my diagonal is complete, so I can concentrate on generating a solid trot across the court. Old habits die hard. This will take some work. I also need to work on changing diagonal standing, which Derby appreciates.
The 20m circles were pretty good. I’ve been working with Derby on responding quickly and correctly on the ground when I ask him to step over. and I cue him by giving him a very gentle poke low on his barrel, where my spur would touch him. When I’m on a circle and Christy tells me to get that inside hind underneath, I’m able to get a quick response. The quality of our circles is getting better.
The next pattern Christy assigned was a flat figure 8, bisected by the centerline, and requiring a tighter turn onto/off the centerline at each end. She also had me throw in a halt for good measure. This exercise really made me use my half halts – in the corners, on the turns, and into the halts.
This exercise revealed that I need to really work on engaging Derby’s hind legs. Connection is essential to executing the more precise turns and the ensuing halt. And to have good connection, you need a good trot. And to get a good trot, you have to have those hind legs in gear.
This pattern was a great exercise and I was pretty happy with how I’m riding, stamina aside. I do need to keep improving my reaction times, catching Derby before he hollows, bulges a shoulder or gets strung out behind. But that timing and feel will come back with more time in the saddle.
After we were done, we walked outside and strolled around the outdoor arena to cool down. It was a beautiful evening, so our little hack was followed by a quick shower and some grazing. Derby was, once again, a total star. It looks like we’re going to go to a schooling show at the beginning of May, and then another toward the end of the month, to get some more show miles on Derbs. I will be riding Intro at the first and very likely the second – we don’t have a canter at the moment to speak of at the moment. We’ll start putting that together again next week but strength is an issue at the moment. Getting out at training still remains a goal for this summer.