July 15, 2012 1 Comment
Derby and I have finally broken through a plateau, and I’m really excited about my lesson tomorrow night. Last week we finally started producing a show-ring quality trot with real bend, roundness and connection. We’ve just passed our one-year anniversary together, and we’re putting in some good work – finally.
Saturday and Sunday I rode on my own (not in a lesson.) I swore to myself that I would build on my progress over the last week, focusing on maintaining energy and roundness simultaneously. I’ve also been working on sharpening Derby’s responsiveness to my aids, which takes a lot of very deliberate and focused riding from me.
I got out the barn early on Saturday. All the horses were inside due to some storms that rolled through earlier, and Derby had quite a bit of extra energy to burn. I actually considered longing him at the outset, but then decided that I needed to work on dealing with extra energy, like I have to do at shows. Could I get him to focus on me, stay on the aids and work correctly?
The answer is yes. I put Derbs to work immediately, instead of walking around on the buckle. I loosened his jaw, poll and neck, moving him around and flexing him right and left. We stretched down. We spiraled in and out. We did serpentines. And pretty soon, I had a nice, responsive horse. Once that was achieved, I focused on the trot work, riding lots of patterns and maintaining the energy and forward, while also working in some torture in two-point and some sitting trot too. Derby’s back was up for the most part and things felt pretty good.
Sunday I was tired, and I’ll admit it, a bit hung over after a late night out with some friends. The sun was beating down and I wasn’t very motivated, but we ended up having a really good ride. After warming up inside, I took Derbs to the outdoor, to see if we could replicate our work outside, in a different and more distracting environment. I put him straight to work in the outdoor, not taking a minute to walk around and look at things. We didn’t have the energy we did on Saturday, but it was hot as Hell out there in the sun, and I settled for round, steady contact, and we achieved it pretty quickly. We did several laps and some excerpts from some tests, and Derby’s back stayed up, and the contact was steady. Between the heat and the deeper outside footing, I didn’t push it. We hit the showers after accomplishing what I set out to do.
It’s been a process to get to this point. And now that I’m starting to get correct work, I know the next steps will be to take the time to build the correct muscling that will enable Derby to carry us nicely into Training level, while building the trot and then repeating everything for the canter. So, a lot remains to be done, certainly, but the path doesn’t look as steep and bumpy as it did three weeks ago.