Some days things just work. I used to have days like that pretty often with Cash, my retired eventer. I have them pretty regularly with Red, my husband's horse. But this is the first time I've ever had a day like this with Saga.
We did the usual walk outside warm-up, then headed into the arena. I worked a lot on 10 meter serpentines up the center line, as those seem to help Saga bend and move away from my leg. I noticed he was much more able to change bend quickly, and was even in both reins for a few steps in the middle of each serpentine, which is new (and good!). We did some trot on a loose rein and he was a bit sluggish but at least wasn't rushing. We also did some canter in the warm-up, and the transitions weren't quite as disasterous as they were on Tuesday, but they were still pretty crummy. I have GOT to tell my right leg to stop creeping up on the left canter departs... today I was pointing my toe so badly that my calf cramped. See, my body knows when I'm wrong even when my brain is sending the wrong signals!
After a walk break, I picked up the reins and we went in for some serious trot work as usual. I really focused on being steady with my left hand to the right so he would have something consistent to go into (amazing what our horses teach us, no?) We did a few 20 m circles both ways and a few changes across the diagonal, and I focused on keeping him soft and forward and keeping my seat soft so my leg and foot wouldn't go all tingly on me again. And then I noticed... he wasn't setting his jaw, left or right. He was standing up straight in the corners, both directions. He was taking rein contact equally in both reins, especially when changing directions. And suddenly, instead of feeling like I was riding on my horse, I felt like I was riding with my horse. What a beautiful thing!
After that, the most fabulous trot I have ever had with him (even Fuzzypony said it was nice, so you KNOW it had to be at least halfway decent), I thought about calling it quits, but I did want to get in some canter work. The transitions were messy but not as bad as they have been, and the canters were fairly nice. We kept getting one or two nice strides in here and there, so the pieces are there, it's just a matter of practicing them. After that, we took yet another walk break, and then I put him back to work for just a few minutes to work on walk. We actually had a decent shoulder-fore both directions (not so hot to the right, but at least he did it), and a few steps of leg yield both ways. To the right, we had about three steps where I really felt him cross over and where he was soft in his poll, so I count that as a huge success. To the right, I tried to really relax my left thigh to keep from blocking his motion, and I think I'm getting better with that - which shows because he's actually moving left.
Of course, I may have a completely different horse when I ride tomorrow morning, but that's what keeps this fun, right? :)
8 week updates...
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