Thursday, March 6, 2014

Almost-canter, trot lengthenings, and more leg yield

On Tuesday I had a fabulous ride on Dakota. He was relaxed, focused, and feeling completely confirmed in walk and trot. I'm starting to sit the trot for thirty seconds at a time, too. He has a very comfy trot to sit.

Things were going so well I decided to see if I could get a canter to the right under saddle. My routine for this sort of thing is to, first, add a grab strap to the saddle. (Actually, I always ride with one. It's great for working on snugging yourself down in sitting trot, especially in lengthenings.) I establish a twenty-meter circle in trot with a solid outside rein. I allow a little slack on the inside rein and hold the grab strap with the inside hand. Then it's go go go with the canter aids. At first I don't care if the horse runs and falls into canter. Whatever works. I didn't quite get the canter with Dakota, but boy, were we close. He stayed on the circle like a good boy and didn't do anything silly. I gave it three tries and then let him walk for his efforts.

The almost-canter fired Dakota up, so after he stopped puffing I went back to trot and asked for some lengthenings. He liked that! Even better, he sat his little fanny down like a champ in the downward transitions. Such a good guy!

As I cooled him down in walk, I asked for a few leg-yields along the wall, and those are coming along so well. Pretty soon I'll give it a try in trot.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

First lesson under my belt!

I gave my first official lesson on Dakota today. Dakota gets a gold star, an A+, and lots of carrots for his behavior, which was exemplary. We started with the student on the lunge line, both directions, working first on establishing body position at the walk and then working up to rising trot. Then I turned them loose to work on a twenty meter circle around me at walk and trot, both directions. The student has a nice natural position and soft hands, and Dakota was a happy camper. The student seemed like she was getting a lot from the lesson and indicated she was understanding what I was saying. We've got another lesson scheduled in a week! I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I'm in "fatten up" mode for Dakota and Flash. They're both looking a little scrawny. I'm upping their supplemental meals, plus I'm trying to wrangle extra hay for them whenever possible. The grass should start to come in during the next month, and that will make a big difference. They've both got little spots of rain rot as well, so I try to get those areas doctored once a day. I think it's under control. Using Durasole on the feets about 4 times a week, and hooves are looking great. Now to just hang in until summer.