Took It Easy on a Warm Sunday Afternoon
It was up near 80F today in the sun, cooler where there was shade. Supposed to be the same tomorrow and then some rain to break the heat on Tuesday. Ridiculous for October.
I rode Tucker first with a little bit of ring work. I have decided to simply try the flying changes without worrying whether he is in a frame and all together, mostly because his canter is so easy and balanced. As well, years ago when I didn't even know the word "dressage" I taught Russell R. to fly the change for the hunter shows/jumping and he certainly wasn't collected.
So, after a short warm up at the trot and then canter, I went for it. First time was right to left. I started the figure eight on the right rein, made a slight left half pass move which starts to displace the shoulder towards the right. Then I changed the bend and asked for the change....nothing, but I continued on the counter lead to the corner, tapped with the whip and with a bit of a buck, he changed the lead. Since I'd ridden the attempt pretty badly, I took that and continued on the left lead after giving him a lot of praise. This time, I crossed the diagonal trying a slight leg yield to the left, got the counter canter going into the corner, asked for the change and this time, he offered just off my strong leg aid and a change of bend.
This kind of combines a lot of principles. I found with PJ that the best technique was to start a half pass, say, right lead from centerline, keeping his body really straight rather than in right bend as is correct for the half pass. At the rail, I'd give his body a good lateral push, then change the bend as his inside hind was starting to step under and he'd change to keep his balance for the new direction.
Lockie Richards had me simply take Toby on a figure eight, and ask for the change on the centerline as we changed directions. Later, I developed the change by using counter canter on the long side and asking for the change in the corner.
The horse needs to be totally confirmed on both leads and be willing to change leads through the trot reliably. You can work it down to a one stride trot change, then go for the canter change. Some trainers insist the horse be able to change through the walk, with no trot strides in between first as well. The big trick is to get the hind end to initiate the change which is how the tap of the whip comes in handy. Just about all the horses I've taught will give a buck now and then when they are learning, but that's fine as it gets the hind end engaged and elevated so the lead can switch. You also need to have a well confirmed counter canter which you can lose for a while once the horse learns to fly the change.
After the ring work, I took Tucker out on his favorite woods trail.
I rode Toby for a few minutes in the ring and used the poles and jump combo I had up for Tucker the day before. Toby did the little set up with nice quiet confidence and a good steady stride. The biggest issue was some little white flies, the size of gnats swarming all over the place in the ring near the "C" end. They kept flying up his nose and into my eyes and face as we passed there. Annoying little critters. After the little session, we too went out on a short ride through the woods where it was lovely, cool and bug free!
When I got back, Chance insisted on hanging out at the gate to the woods with a longing expression. I promised him we'd go out as soon as he was better.
Then I fed the Boys and went back out to clear some of the fallen trees and overgrown branches off the two parts of the trail nearest the barn. All the while, there was Chance hanging over the gate with that same longing look. It was his first choice of activity after finishing his dinner. He didn't come back to the paddock until I put out the hay.
Guess I owe him a few trail rides.
Oh yes, I mowed the lawn too. Riding mower.