Monday, December 22, 2014

Creatures of Habit

Copper and I had a good time these last two rides.  It’s actually kind of boring – I don’t have any exciting updates or news to share. 

But I’m ok with that too – I’m getting to that stage in my pregnancy – 33 weeks – where the last thing you want is excitement with your horse!

Hwello again! - A Riding Habit- Loving this look: butt muscles, a nice topline, summer dapples, red coat, and hey! Just check out the length of that tail! (> ◡ <) -

We had a fun trail ride Saturday; once again, I super love hill work for really pushing Copper to work off his hind end and carry himself. All the soft up hill horses…  *grin*

It’s very cute, because I can tool around anywhere on him at a walk with the reins at the buckle. He’ll turn and even do a bit of neck reining for me. As soon as I pick up the contact though – he knows we mean business and that’s when Mr. Speedy comes to play!

There is no such thing as a quiet w/t trail ride for him. So we ended up working pretty hard.  We did loads of uphill trotting where I required him to remain soft and cadenced – not slow per say, as he fights that too much and it creates too much tension, but he had to be listening to my half-halts.

I find it’s so much easier if you bundle him up and let him really ‘charge’ forwards and release his energy up and out, rather than trying to bundle him up and keep him slow. He just fights that, and it creates much more tension than if you let him ‘run’ it out. When he is allowed to run it results in a more extended/medium trot (okay, I have no idea what kind of trot it is ‘cause I’ve never seen it from the ground – but it’s certainly big!) that is actually softer and easier to ride than a slow, tense, choppy trot. 

So we did lots of that and when he started bracing and getting heavy on the forehand (because all the sitting into the trot is haaarrrddd human bean!) we did trot shoulder-ins down the track. He had lovely impulsion!  Lol.  XD

How good is that view? - A Riding Habit

Then came our Monday ride, and we did some schooling in the arena.  I used our useful turn-on-the-forehand square exercise, (which I’m planning to do a training post on later) and some halt/rein back transitions to really get him light on the forehand before moving in lateral warm ups.

It’s interesting to me to note that we don’t need to spend as much time doing a walk warm up as we used too. I’m actually finding that if I spend too much time on lateral movements at a walk, he looses a lot of his impulsion and gets really “sticky” – behind my leg and slow. It feels like he is stuck in molasses!

Our warm up used to be 15-20 minutes at least, but now I think it’s more like 10 minutes?  This is a good thing. We have more time for working on his trot, and can even fit in some canter work sometimes. I suppose we must be making progress, because he comes in front of my leg sooner, and is able to start working through his lateral and longitudinal flexion a lot faster. This is super exciting to me! Yay! Progress!



Anyway, we did some good trotting and I’m already seeing improvement from doing the strengthening (trail riding!) rides. He was more balanced on a trotting 20m circle, both reins – though we still struggle with wobbling around on the left rein. I really have to ride that circle or he’ll bulge out through his outside shoulder and get wonky.

One of the other ladies from my yard was having a lesson in the arena at the same times as I was riding, so that was good because I got to practise working with Copper when he’s distracted. There was a lot of ‘power’ trotting (- ヮ -)!, and we even did some cantering.

He wanted to canter and I let him think that it was my idea because he went to canter, but I kept it really balanced on a 20m circle. He did so well with it for 3 or 4 laps, and then stopped because balanced cantering is hard!  :P

The instructor giving the other lady’s lesson also gave me a titbit of advice. She said “Your horse is responding really well to your leg yield aid, but try to keep his neck from bending so much. You want only a little bit of flexion from the poll.” 

And I was all “Thankyouthankyouthankyou!” because that’s the first bit of advice I’ve had in over two years(?) or more and doing this dressage training thing by myself is hard

I think what was happening was that I couldn’t tell if he was crossing over on the back end enough, so I’d ask for deeper flexion with his hind end, but create too much bend in his neck because he was already crossing over enough. 

It’s little things like that which make me go “Oooh, I really need some eyes on the ground” because it’s such a simple fix. I’ve been over riding the leg yield aid and I simply didn’t know it.

I can’t wait until next year and I can finally have some lessons!

See ya,


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