It’s not often I have time (or energy!) to ride all three of my horses in a single day. But today was one of those rare days. Fling was a little grumpy about getting saddled immediately after breakfast this morning. Because she’d been standing in her stall overnight, I made a point to spend a lot of time walking first. I took her out in our ten acre field and planned to ride her out there. It’s good to get out of the arena sometimes, plus it was a good place to work on our ‘forward’ canter. Fling is very levelheaded and she doesn’t even get excited when Faeryn and Faxx come zooming across the pasture right toward us. She just ignores them with, I swear, a longsuffering sigh and a thought bubble over her head that would read “Knock it off, you guys.” Sometimes it’s hard being the oldest sibling! She was very good today, and I was able to take what Marta told us Thursday and put it into action. When i pushed her more from behind, her self carriage at the canter actually got better and I didn’t feel the need to half halt as much as I had been doing before. She also got softer in the bridle. Marta also told me she needs to be fitter at the canter. She is very fit at the trot, but the canter requires a different sort of fitness. I have heard horsemen say that ‘trot builds muscle and canter builds wind.” I can see that at work in my own experience with Fling. She is very ‘muscle’ fit, but she needs to build ‘wind’ fitness. A friend saw the very ‘baroque’ picutre of Fling I sent her and she responded by saying that Fling hadn’t missed any groceries. Actually, Fling is very ‘buff’ and there’s not an ounce of fat on her – it’s all muscle. Now I need to spend more time working on the canter. Here’s what it looks like now:
I rode Faeryn next and she needs more canter work for a completely different reason. She’s simply a bit ‘behind the curve’ on her canter work – for two reasons – one, the canter is always the last gait to develop, and secondly, I rode her at trot for probably six months when I started her under saddle before I ever cantered her. And, I think that, like most people, I tend to focus on the trot more than the canter. Her canter is going very well and now it’s time to work on developingher canter to it ‘matches’ her trot. Often, I just do canter once each direction and call it a day. I’m working on trot 75% of the time and canter 25%. It’s time to reverse that ration for awhile. Her canter has improved a lot lately. I think the jumping we did preparing for the Oldenburg NA Mare Performance Test helped a lot. I took a cue from what Marta taught me about Fling and pushed her more forward in the canter. I need to resist theimage to try and ‘collect’ her canter too much, too soon. Especially when I neglect to push her from behind. Faeryn needs more ‘help’ at the canter than Faxx does, but she needs less ‘help’ at the trot. It’s good to have three very different horses to ride. Faeryn rides very much like her mom did – except that I am a much better rider now than when I rode her mom. IN addition to working more on the canter, I’m starting to ‘up the ante’ at the trot by asking her to do short little ‘forward and back’ exercises that are the stepping stones toward collection.
Here’s Faeryn working in trot:
Faxx got ridden late this evening. Faxx is the trickiest. He is a good boy and laid back, but he is a bit of a worrier, and also fussy in his contact with the bit. I have to be very diplomatic and steady with my hands to encourage him to stay connected. He is getting better, and I am able to keep him connected and do sitting trot now. I alternated between posting and sitting and tried to think about keeping my back/waist soft and supple when I sat, and not bracde against him. I also have to sit up very straight and not collapse in my core. And I also tried to think about pushing him into contact instead of pulling him into it. He has a tendancy to be a little slow with his hind legs sometimes – and that makes his connection unsteady. I’ve learned when I feel that, to ask him to be more active with his hind legs and it makes a big difference. Tonight I had some of the best sitting trot work to date – when he felt good at the sitting trot in a circle, I pushed him forward just a bit more with my legs, and his back came up a tad more, and got softer and more supple, and we danced! A glimpse of what the future will bring!!