Mom's visiting for two weeks, so I've been a bad blogger and rider. Willow got four days off in a row this week. I'm sure she was devastated.
Saturday's ride was not bad considering Willow's extended vacation. I did decide that once again I've not got her enough on the outside rein, and that's allowing her to start some small arguments with me that keep me distracted from getting her to step through to the bit with her inside hind. ("She needs to bend in spite of the outside rein," is the Wolfgang advice I'm hearing in my head lately.)
So yesterday my goal was to be the side reins, especially with the outside rein. I stayed playful and cajoling with my inside rein and used it and my inside leg to get the bend in spite of an extremely steady outside rein. At the same time, I concentrated on making sure the whoa and the go were available to me at all times. Willow tried for awhile to convince me she couldn't do all of that at once, but I stopped letting her pick those fights. If the go went away, I booted her forward with both legs and whip. If the whoa went away I used voice and many less-than-ideal half halts to get her attention. Everything came together pretty quickly, and at the end of the ride I got a fantastic sitting trot, and the canter departs were coming within the frame instead of the usual leap forward.
My next-door-neighbors to the south have always had a "hedge" bordering our two properties that probably could be designated a national forest. It consisted of a jumble of trees and various shrubs, plus some gargantuan blackberry bushes, and was perhaps twenty feet wide and twelve feet tall. Two days ago, they hired some fellows to cut it all down. It has taken two days so far and they're still not done. After the first day, I had a funny dream that they had finished cutting everything down and it turned out there was a whole house underneath. Well, maybe I'm a little psychic, because it did turn out there was something unexpected under there: