Three for Three
The weather took a mighty turn for the good. Temps dropped to the 60's F at t night and the humidity flew away on a nice breeze. While I should have ridden really early, I waited until 11 AM and still managed to ride all three.
I was back in the house by 1:30, but I'm sure my muscles will pay for the effort.
And I made another mistake. I rode them in "ascending" order. Not age wise, but height wise.
That meant Chance first. His head was down right from the start at the trot and stayed there pretty reliably. He needs to soften a little more to the bit down there, but considering it's been two weeks since I've been on him, he was quite remarkable about it all. With the trot fairly stabilized, I decided to work a little at the canter.
The first depart on the left was "fling" up the head but go. Since the "go" was there, that was good. The head was not. Once in the canter, though, he did drop his head so I figured he could start to work on departing with it down. We did a bunch of transitions and sure enough, by the last two he had the concept. It wasn't great, but it was well on the way. And, I am pleased to say, the results were about the same on the right lead. Yea!!
In the walk out, I thought I'd try some turns on the forehand so I could start doing some lateral work with him. What a failure. He had no clue at all. I finally dismounted and worked him in hand for about five minutes just teaching him to move his hind end sideways off an aid. I'll do that a few more times before trying it under saddle. He is funny about expressing his confusion, because as soon as I ask him to do something he doesn't understand he starts to toss his head. At least he lets me know.
Nearly three inches up in height, I rode Toby next. He had practically put his head in the halter on his own, so I guess he wanted to do something today. He tried to head for the woods gate, but I just couldn't take the chance of going out since I hadn't put on his fly gear. We stayed in the arena.
I just did some basic walk, trot, canter, on a fairly long rein, throwing in some half passes and flying changes for fun. Then, I rode a mock first level dressage test. Toby is so much fun at some of the movements, but the best one is the extended canter down the long side with collection at the end markers. Because he knows he will have to collect, he does it on his own AND because of that, I can really ride for a huge extension. It's just a blast to fire up the long side and then just sit up and do a minimal half halt with my seat and have the collected canter back. (Muriel, that's what happens with the reining horses when they gallop and then lope. When the horse responds to the half halt from a slight lifting of the seat, it's a super feeling!!)
Nearly three more inches up and I rode Tucker. I spent a good part of the ride in canter. Sometimes I rode a collected gait in a frame and sometimes just on a loose rein. The goal was two fold. First, I wanted to get him lighter to the canter cue so I can go back to working the flying changes. Right now he is slow off the leg. He needs to sharpen up. Lots of transitions will help and will likely be putting the spurs back on again. I'll get some protests, I'm sure, but he needs to be quicker to the aids. Secondly, I needed to work on keeping him light in the forehand on the downward transitions. Strangely enough, it is easy to get canter/trot/canter transitions and canter/walk/canter transitions, but if I do canter/halt, then he gets stuck because in the halt he drops onto the forehand instead of standing "poised" to move off again. For now, I worked him in canter/halt/reinback/canter to sharpen that up. I will do that exercise a few more times just to solidify it, but will very quickly mix it up with canter/halt/canter/halt/trot...etc. If you work the reinback out of the halt too much the horse--especially a Thoroughbred--will start to back up every time you halt, a very bad habit to develop. Still, the reinback has its value in shifting the horse's weight to his hind end to improve the foreward transitions to make them more "uphill."
Why the height comments? By the time I was done riding Tucker I was tuckered out. Lifting the saddle up off his back and then throwing the flysheet up onto his back just seemed like a huge effort. If I'd finished up with Chance, I wouldn't have needed all that extra "flinging" energy at the end of the workout. And, Tucker has much more surface area to sponge off. As I said on Caroline's blog, it's not the riding, but the work involved before and after that make riding three challenging.
Mental note: Work the big horse first. *G*
Maybe I'll go for a swim later after I rest up. It is, at last, a gorgeous day!!