Thursday, March 24, 2016

Obvious improvements in Clair (and myself) since clinic!

I wrote down everything I could remember learning at the February clinic and have been applying it religiously. I'm starting each ride with ten minutes of walk on a long rein, using alternating seat bones to develop an energetic walk, and asking for bend with my seat only. Suzanne called this "establishing the conversation," and it has made a huge difference in Clair's forwardness. I can come off the walk work into an energetic, in-front-of-my-leg working trot. No more kicking and nagging to get Clair to shift gears. I've also been riding my canters big, big, big, and straight, before asking for any collection. She's feeling much less sticky in canter now. Finally, she's starting to go reliably with her poll up. She still ducks from time to time, but I'd say we've reached 85% poll up. I can see the difference in her trot -- she has freedom in her shoulder and bouncier suspension. She's actually got an uphill look to her at times now!

I love how far she's stepping underneath in canter, especially to the right. Her inside hind comes all the way under the girth! Watch video #3 to see some textbook simple changes through trot. They're pretty fab, if I do say so myself.

High poll, uphill trot!

Look at the inside hind leg reach!

The next clinic is planned for June 25-26. I hope we make as much progress as we did in February!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Schooling the golden boy in the golden hour

R is out of town on spring break, so I've been working Dakota for her. She has done an amazing job with him. The last time I got on him was in early January, and he feels so much more bendable now. Lately he's been tensing, throwing his head, and running -- all in anticipation of canter. So tonight I aimed for an utterly chill mustang with a loose neck. I spent lots of time bending him back and forth. Yes, he's low and behind the bit, but he's very easy to bring up in front, and he was so relaxed and happy with the work. With Kota, he'd rather be up than down, so I ride him down. With Clair, she'd rather be down than up, so I (try to) ride her up. You pretty much always do the opposite of what they'd like to do.