Monthly Archives: February 2010

Day Five – A great finish to the week

We ended the week on a really good note. As usual, Fling was up first.  We worked on improving the canter by making sure she had enough bend. The increased bend makes a big difference in how the canter feels. It improves the self carriage and uphill feel, as well as the degree of collection. I think it’s because the bend makes her step underneath herself better with the inside hind. Marta said to think about bending her around my inside leg – turn the shoulders to the inside – think shoulder fore. Also, as Marta says, “keep her face on the line of the circle.’  Thinking of it that way helps me keep her shoulders and neck lined up to follow the line of the circle. Also, when you think about it this way, you always keep the appropriate amount of bend to match the size of the circle. IE, on a 10m circle you would have a greater degree of bend than on a 20m circle.   Then we worked on canter half pass and she did great. Then Marta had me make a small circle, then start half pass on the outside quarter line and just do a few strides of half pass to about X and then go straight, keeping the same bend as half pass, then think of keeping her from ‘falling onto my inside leg’ by keeping it at the girth and pressing….then, for the flying change,  think of taking ONE step of canter pirouette by moving both my hands toward the new direction, move my leg behind the girth and ask for the change. Eureka! Super changes both directions!  To finish, we worked on trot extensions. I had watched some video that Marta had taken of us the day before, and although she FEELS like she is doing a huge extension, on the video it doesn’t look nearly as big! Marta says what she is doing is plenty for third level, but I wanted to see if I could get more.  I’ve watched too many Grand Prix trot extensions! LOL!  So Marta had me do big, free rising trot around the arena to get her a little charged up, then I sat, went around the corner and really half halted and ‘revved’ her engine. When I headed onto the diagonal Marta  had me put my hands forward and let her go. I could definitely feel her get more airborne!  We ended on that and I was a very happy camper.

By the time we got to Faxx, it was raining a little, so we worked in the covered arena. We had to work around the jumps set up and axx gave them a little bit of the evil eye, so he did not settle into his work as quickly as usual.  Marta says Faxx now needs to learn he has more than one ‘gear’ at both trot and canter. So we worked on a lot of pushing foward to bigger trot or canter for just 3-4 strides, then coming back. He is very good at ‘coming back’ without breaking out of the gait as is so common when you start trying to do this. We also worked on leg yield on the circle,. He was not listening to my leg and Marta said not to KEEP my leg aid on him – but to give the aid, then remove it, give the aid, then remove it. Sure enough, that worked better. Marta says that when you give the aid and hold it – they tend to lean INTO your leg.

To finish, Marta had me hop on the Andalusian stallion she was riding, Brumoso. She trained him when she lived in Spain, and his owner sent him here for Marta to continue his training. He is a huge mover and a very powerful horse. There was NO way I could sit his trot! And that’s saying something because Faxx isn’t the easiest horse to sit, and I can sit his trot. Brumoso’s trot felt like passage!  His canter, on the other hand, was fabulous to ride! He felt like he could canter on the spot!

So, my week of training was over! I learned a lot and I am sure this is going to help my riding with all my horses. My main goal was to get closer to confirming my flying changes, but everything improved. I’m not going to get too worked up about getting the changes perfect as long as everything else is going well and improving. Now I have to decide when I am going to make my third level debut!  

I am very grateful to The Dressage Foundation and the “Gifted” fund for this opportunity. I never would have even thought of taking a week off work just to train ‘full time’ if I had not read about this special  grant just for adult amateurs to do just that.

The grant did not cover the entire cost of the week, including hotel, meals, lessons, etc, but it covered most of it, making it very do-able.

I got home around 2:30 and Faeryn was very happy to see her friends. Later I rode Faeryn and applied the principles I learned this week and she did very well.

Fling and Faxx get the next two days off and Faeryn has to work this weekend!

And a sidenote about my equine Houdini…

Since Fling has already figured out how to ‘cheat’ the door latch system at Marta’s barn, I have been tying a lead rope around the post/door on one side of the door, and, since this is FLING we’re talking about, have wound her halter around the other side, and then buckled it around the post and the door so the door is IMMOVEABLE.

This evening I went over to feed them and to hand walk her for a bit…and was very puzzled to find the lead rope missing from her stall door. I thought maybe one of the barn help had removed it…. and when I went in to give her hay, found it buried in her stall among the shavings! Now, this was tied in a double knot, on the OUTSIDE of the stall door. She has a very tiny muzzle that fits between the bars of virtually every rolling door….she somehow got the knotted rope turned to the INSIDE of the stall, worked the knot free and then DRAGGED the entire lead rope into her stall.

If she had a rockhammer, she’d no doubt manage to tunnel her way out like that guy in The Shawshank Redemption!

Day Four – All is calm on the equine front!

Faxx and Fling have finally settled in and no more drama!

We worked on canter and trot half pass today with Fling. In addition to more bend, I need to (again!) leave her ALONE more once we start the half pass. Once I get her set up propertly, she feels much ‘dancier’ when I give the reins a bit. Remember that half pass is just a diagonal with bend!  We had much more success in getting clean flying changes from the half pass. My main issue is keeping her from leaning on my outside leg. She needs to stay evenly between my legs and not lean on one or the other. I think I am also ‘blocking’ her with my seat sometimes, preventing her from ‘jumping through.’ Ineed to remember that the flying change is nothing but a canter depart FROM the canter. I need to move my hip forward when I ask for the change, just like I do with ‘regular’ canter departs.

 A few tips on various subjects — in shoulder in, think about creating a ‘triangle’ between rail, horse’s body and space between rail and front legs. Keep that ‘triangle’ the same all throughout the SI. I maintain the ‘triangle’ well, but again, need to give the reins more and let her dance.  Also, something I’ve been told before, but forget — look between the horse’s ears. It will help you maintain the right position on the horse. I tend to look too much to the inside, which encourages my horses to go out the shoulder too much.  We finished up by working on our extended trot and canter. Need to really ‘rev’ the engine through the corners, then just let her go and don’t chase her. Keep hands forward and think about riding her UP as much as FORWARD. Especially at the canter, don’t be afraid to ‘go for it.’

I warmed Faxx up the way Marta told me – waiting for him to take contact. He was very good and when we picked up the trot, he was nicely on contact with a bit longer neck. We worked on doing a bit of shoulder fore with him at trot and canter.He got the idea very fast.  More work on trot lengthenings and tried counter canter for the first time. Easy!  His canter is super balanced and uphill. We did counter canter all the way around the arena, and on the long sides, Marta had me do some shoulder fore in counter canter. He got the hang of counter canter through the corners quickly. We finished up by asking for canter lengthenings. This was the first time I’d ever asked him to do that. The amazing thing is, instead of cantering out of control and having to haul on the reins to come back to working canter, as is usually the norm with a young horse – Faxx listened to my half halt and came back quite nicely to working canter! What fun!

So, tomorrow is our last day. I am sure my horses are ready to go home! I admit I do miss Faeryn – Fling’s full sister who is coming 5. Mike says she’s just been moping around in the pasture with Mike’s geldings. Faxx and Fling will get a few days off, and I’ll ‘experiment’ on Faeryn with my newfound knowledge! Faeryn rides much like Faxx – and has some of the same issues with her longer neck. So I expect that even tho she did not make the trip, she will benefit from it too.

Day Three – Equine drama defused

Sometimes you have to think ‘out of the box’ and do something completely counter-intuitive. Such was today. I REALLY did not want to repeat the same “extreme lunging”  scenario I had with Fling yesterday. It was SO Not Fun. I also worried she would hurt herself and I also did not want her worn out’ — I really wanted her energy for the LESSON. So, I got on her without lunging her at all. It took some ‘discussion’ to get her away from the barn (Faxx) , but in short order I had her out in the field next to the dressage ring and we did 15 minutes of nice relaxed walk as a warm up. At home I never lunge Fling, and I don’t have to lunge her at shows, either. And, in general, Fling is always much more obedient and easier to deal with under saddle than on the ground. I also felt much more in control. Fling is 10, I’ve been riding her since she was 2.5 and she’s never dumped me. So, a much calmer start to today’s activities!

She worked super. Marta commented on how strong she is. Fling is short backed and has really good hind end construction – the best of my three horses. She can ‘sit’ and she is very powerful for a 15.1H horse. I’ve been having trouble with half pass at trot and canter – especially to the right. I discovered the problem quickly – I do not have NEARLY enough bend – and it was really easy to fix. I would go into the HP with not enough bend and then try and ‘create’ more bend during the half pass – that does not work. I always read that you should be able to just see the horse’s eyelashes/eye to determine correct amount of bend. Not with Fling. I need to be able to see the cheekpiece of her bridle. Once I got enough bend, the half pass was super good, and the quality of her trot also improved greatly. We worked on it at canter, too, with equal success. With enough bend, the half passes felt MUCH more powerful.

We also worked more on riding her ‘up’ and breaking my habit of getting her too ‘deep’ in the bridle. I need to keep my reins much shorter, and my hands more forward up her neck. That allows me to half halt easier, and give the reins without moving my hands so much. I tend to ‘nag’ her with many small half halts – and don’t really give her enough time to balance before I do another one. Today I concentrated on doing a strong half halt, then giving my hands forward to give her a chance to rebalance herself. She has very good self carriage if I let her!  I can now give one rein forward periodically – alternating between inside and outside – as both a small reward for her, and as a test to make sure she’s in self-carriage AND that she maintains bend with just my inside leg. That’s the thing – I was ‘afraid’ to actually USE the inside rein to create bend. It’s OK to use it to create the bend – the horse has to learn somehow – then you get to the point that you create the bend with the rein, but then you can completely maintain it with the inside leg.  

We worked on flying changes too, with some success. We’re not there yet, but I can ‘see’ “there” from here! Of course it’s all my problem. Generally, I am not giving her a big enough aid, or enough ‘notice’ before asking for the change,and I often let her shoulder drift too much before asking for the change.

 We finished by working on extended canter. Marta had me put her in slight shoulder fore, and keep thinking about riding her UP into my hands – like thinking of ‘riding her neck up’ – then really sitting on her and sitting back a little, moving my legs back a little and just squeezing her forward but NOT throwing her away in front. She aced those and we quit on that. We worked almost an hour and a half!

Faxx was up next and I was really hoping he would not be wired. They both are used to being out 12 hours a day, and Faxx has only been in a small pen that opens out from the stall, and Fling has no turnout at all since Marta has so many stallions – there’s nowhere to put her that she would not be adjacent to a stallion.

Faxx is just a much more laid back horse than Fling. Faxx is like the good natured but not too bright football player. He doesn’t pay too much attention to things going around him unless there’s food involved. And he really does not ‘think’ about anything. Fling sees everything, notices everything and the gears in her head are constantly in motion. I’ve had more than 20 horses in my life and she’s by far the smartest horse I’ve ever had. As an example – she has already figured out how to open the door on her stall here. It is a rolling door, like at home, but there’s a chain on a pin and you drop the pin into the frame. The problem is Fling has discovered she can open the door as far as the chain on the pin will allow – and she is so strong, it is only a matter of time until she is able to shove the door so hard she breaks the very lightweight chain. So now I have to tie the door to the frame behind it so she can’t move it. She sometimes wears me out she’s so smart and so ‘busy’ – she never uses her smarts for true ‘evildoing,’ but she gets bored very easily and NEEDS A JOB. I love her to death – she is definitely my favorite horse to ride because she just never has a bad or cranky day. She loves her job and is a real overachiever. BUT, sometimes having a horse with no original thoughts is MUCH LESS WORK. 😉

So, I tacked up Faxx and walked him out to the field to lunge. And Faxx just headed out in a nice, relaxed walk. No whinnying, no gawking. Just a nice, relaxed walk with his neck stretched out and a huge overstride. Whew. What a good boy! I sent him a few rounds in canter to warm his back muscles up (he can be cold backed – that’s how I got bucked off in October!) and then I got on him.

I did the warmup Marta suggested yesterday – walking him on a bit longer rein and encouraging him forward until HE decided to take contact. Then we moved to trot and when he started out sort of ‘bouncing’ on and off contact with the bit, Marta said I need to push him more forward when he does that.  He needs to be really in front of my leg. That solved the contact issue. We worked on some more of the first level movements. When I cantered Faxx across the diagonal he would feel ‘wobbly’ to me – like he was not sure how to really go straight without the ‘security blanket’ of the rail. Marta said, instead of trying to keep using leg to keep him straight, to push him forward to make him straighter. Then we did 10m serpentines and he did those really well. Again, as with Fling, Faxx needed to have more bend – but at his level, not as much bend as Fling. We worked on trot lengthenings again and Faxx had a LIGHTBULB moment and I could feel him ‘change gears’ in the trot. they all have to figure out that they have another ‘gear.’  We helped him find his by cantering him very forward, then asking for downward to trot on the long side and then using that forward energy and encouraging it. We stopped on that. I did not think Faxx was ready to show First level, but I was wrong. He is so well balanced, nothing is really difficult about it. I have to say, that is something all my horses have – even as youngsters, they have all been exceptionally well balanced.

So, we finished up around noon and then headed over to the Andalusian farm so I could ride an Andalusian stallion!  Marta rode him first. He has a LOT of movement and I wondered how I would be able to sit it!  This horse helped me feel what really, truly, upper level collection feels like! He was very fun! The canter was SO collected it was almost ‘on the spot.’  The flying changes were not perfect with him, even, but I got some good ones. The topper was doing passage! Wow! It was incredible! He had SO much LOFT and “upward energy.”  It takes a lot of leg strength on the rider’s part, because you have to keep cueing in rhythm to maintain the passage, and with this horse, the stronger the aid, the ‘bigger’ the passage. It was work! He was a very kind, well trained horse. I can see now how much faster you’d progress if you could ride a horse like this from the get-go. . but then you also need a good trainer to help you every step of the way. Most schoolmasters ‘revert’ to the level of the rider without constant help!

I worked hard today!  I didn’t even get lunch until almost 4 p.m. (But worth waiting for – Cheesecake Factory! YUM!)

A very good day. One good thing about takiing lessons five days in a row is I get a chance to ‘instill’ some of the things Marta wants me to change/improve, before I go home to work on my own again. Usually, I just one one lesson to get the feel of something or try and change my position, etc.  This way I think I will be much more likely to maintain it.  I also have decided I have to have some mirrors. Even if just one small corner. It will help me maintain my position better, and I will be able to see any crookedness in the horses.

 

 

Day Two – More equine angst

We started at 9 a.m. today to try and beat the rain/snow/sleet. I did not expect to be dealing with more equine insecurities today, and especially not with Fling, but she was borderline hysterical at the prospect of having to leave the barn (and Faxx) and go work in the dressage arena, out of sight of any other horses. Just walking her OUT there was a challenge – she just kept trotting ahead of me, circling, stopping, whinnying, etc.  Once I finally got her to the lunging area, I really thought she was going to escape and go bombing straight back to the barn before I could get the lunging equipment fastened on her. She was just unconsolable. It’s behavior I’ve never seen from her before, but I can understand it. Fling is the ‘alpha mare’ at our farm, and as such, she is ‘responsible’ for herd (HER herd!) safety. Most people think this is the stallion’s job, but like many aspects of life, the male of the species gets credit for all the female’s hard work yet again. 😉  Alpha mares are in charge of suveying the surroundings and sounding the alarm if there is anything suspicious. At home, if a car drives too slow (in her opinion) down our street, it is reason for investigation and Fling is on the job – trotting to the fenceline and scoping out the situation. Ditto for people on bicycles, people walking, etc.  Fling is EVER ALERT for any threat, real or perceived.  So Fling was just doing her job, and I was preventing her from doing her job!  After about 10 minutes of wild leaping around and plaintive whinnying, Marta came out to the ring riding one of her Andalusian stallions and Fling settled a little since she now had a ‘herd mate.’  I got on her and she relaxed quickly.

The main message today was to TRUST her. Don’t keep half halting her – let her neck up a bit. If she’s too deep, it puts her on her forehand. She is plenty collected. Now I just need to ride her UP a bit and slow her down at trot.

We worked on basic paces, half pass at trot and flying changes. Her left half pass is quite good. I’ve been having trouble with the half pass to the right, so we ‘diagnosed’ the problem there. She loses bend, and I know that, but couldn’t seem to fix it. Marta said not to be afraid to really shorten my right rein to really get her to bend, then use my right leg more actively to ‘wrap’ her around my right leg.  At first it will take very big aids until she learns what is expected. In the meantime, then I need to do half halts on the outside rein to rebalance and outside leg to encourage her forward. We got a few good half passes to the right and moved on to flying changes. I got many clean ones, but they were happening the SECOND time i asked her, not the first. Marta says she is leaning against my new outside leg (going from right to left lead) and I almost need to ‘think’ counterflex with new outside and strong outside leg.  We’ll try more of that tomorrow. 

Since Fling was such an idiot, I expected Faxx to be bad, too, but he was very laid back. I think the biggest difference was I did NOT turn Fling out after we got to the barn today, so he could not see her. Out of sight out of mind. However, when I got on him, he did whinny and whinny (he could hear her whinnying) and he danced around a bit and kept trying to turn back to the barn. I got him under control quickly, tho and had some really super work today. Marta loves Faxx. He is definitely her favorite. Like any good parent, I try not to play favorites with my children. 😉

She schooled me on the best way to warm Faxx up. She said give the reins, and wait for him to go TO the reins, to help get his neck longer. We want his neck longer because we can always shorten it if we need to later. He needs to learn to go out to the bit. Faxx is going to show First level at schooling shows this year, so we worked on some of the movements from those tests. He has an incredibly balanced canter, and the canter serpentine loop from First 4 that is tough for many horses is a total cake walk for him. People are wowed by his trot, but Marta and i both know that Faxx’s best gait is his canter. and that’s what you want for a horse to move up the levels. Marta is super good at helping school the movements because she is  stickler for preparing for the movement, doing the figures absolutely accurately and telling you the best way to prepare your horse prior to the movement. For example, for the shallow loop canter serpentine, she instructed me to go deep into the corner before, half halt and get him firmly on my outside rein, turn onto the diagonal and put Faxx in slight shoulder fore, ride to X, and then turn as quickly as I could, using outside leg and rein to keep from losing the shoulder and asking him to really turn around his shoulder, and then put him in shoulder fore again for the second half of the serpentine.

Next we worked on getting him to lengthen his stride at the trot. Faxx still just has ‘one’ trot and he needs to learn he can take longer or shorter strides when asked. Marta had me slow him through the corners, then put my hands foward and let him go. He’s a little lazy, and is not self-propelled like Fling, so I just waved my whip in the air to motivate him forward. They never understand at first that you don’tjust want faster – and so Faxx broke into the canter several times. When he did this, Marta had me send him forward in a ‘big’ canter and THEN bring him to trot. She said if I ask him to trot from his tiny little canter, I’ll get a tiny trot. Asking him to canter forward will make for a bigger trot when I do ask for the downward. We schooled this across the diagonal several times, and by the end, he had a few good lengthened strides. Marta also had me just ride him all around the perimeter of the arena, asking him to take longer strides.

So, some good work today. I am hoping for an ‘ephiphany’ for the flying changes this week, but realistically,such ephiphanies don’t happen very often. More than likely, Marta will help me fix the UNDERLYING issues involving the flying changes, and that will allow me to go back home, apply those, and over time, the changes will improve.  Although maybe riding the trained horse tomorrow will be the ephiphany that I am looking for! I am a little  intimidated by the thought of riding such a highly trained horse, but he looks very fun to ride, and what an opportunity!

The weather turned nasty after we finished today – first with sleet, then later in the day with snow. I stopped by old town Tomball for lunch, where there’s a Charlotte’s Saddlery and a cute little tea room. Of course I had to buy something at Charlotte’s. I bought a pink saddle pad and a lovely velvet show pad with gold metallic piping. As I was walking across the street from Charlotte’s to the tea room, a trail ride heading for Houston was coming through Tomball. By this time the sleet was coming down steadily and they truly looked miserable. Well, the ones who WEREN’T holding cans of beer as they rode looked miserable! They will be in downtown Houston by Friday, there they’ll camp at Memorial Park and then participatein the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo parade Saturday. (Ok, I know they call it RODEHOUSTON now, but it will ALWAYS be the HLSR to me!)

I made an executive decision today. I had planned to take Faxx home tomorrow and return with Faeryn. They’ve had such a hard time settling in, I decided it would be counterproductive to bring Faeryn. She is the ‘hottest’ of the three and I doubt she’d settle in to really get good solid work out of her. I’ll keep Faxx here and hopefully they’ll get more settled as the week continues.

It is very easy to see the glass as ‘half full’ sometimes, but even with Fling’s nutcase behavior today, I feel very blessed to have such willing, talented partners. It makes me want to work harder to be able to ride better to do them justice.

Day One – I am beat!

Between packing riding clothes and ‘regular; clothes for me, clothes for the horses, loading feed/hay and tack, and driving, then unloading all aforementioned items, I was a tad worn out before the ‘real’ work even began!

What I did NOT count on was how ‘joined at the hip’ Faxx and Faeryn were, and how that, um, ‘adversely’ affected their behavior, attention span and length of time required to lunge them before I deemed it safe to climb aboard!  I was a bit gobsmacked by that, since at home they are ‘ho hum’ and separately, at shows, they are both very laid back. I will say, contributing to their mild hysteria was the fact that Marta’s farm fronts a busy road, and her dressage ring is maybe 75 feet from the road. My horses are used to traffic, since our entire pasture fronts the street on two sides, but we live on a dead-end road, and the traffic level at home is several notches below what they experienced today. Probably another factor was that they spent all night in their stalls, then got right on the trailer – so they already had some pent-up energy. But, this just reconfirms my stance on NEVER, EVER trying to take both of them to a show together! 😉

First up was Fling. I think the last time I had to lunge her before I rode her was at least five years ago! LOL! When I first got on her, she was REALLY up on her toes! We warmed up at rising trot and Marta immediately had me do some exercises to slow her down a bit and get her to raise her neck just a little. We did figure eights and at ‘x’ I half-halted to collect her more, then slowed her almost to a walk, then gave the reins forward just about an inch, at the same time leaning slightly back and putting leg on. This got her a bit more “up” and encouraged her to take slower, longer steps. Marta also noticed that I was definitely ‘holding’ the left rein more each direction.   I worked on ‘allowing’ her to bend more to the right by giving more in the left rein when going to the right. Going to the left, I needed to take more outside rein.  Because I was using too much left rein both directions, this was encouraging her to go crooked, with her haunches either slightly in or out, depending on the direction. This is the kind of stuff I can’t figure out on my own – but it can make all the difference in everything we do. We did the same exercise at the canter, and we also worked on making our corners at canter more like quarter-turns. Her canter felt SUPER, especialy to the right. To the left, I need to work more on positioning her better with the outside rein.  I also tend to ‘chase’ her at the medium/extended trot, which makes her just go quicker with shorter steps. Fling is one horse that needs NO forward ‘motivation’ from me. She is extremely forward-thinking  but in the very best way – she’s not nervous, she’s not jiggy – but that power and acceleration is right THERE when you want it. It’s why I call her my ‘little sportscar.’  All I really have to do is half halt going around ther corner to ‘rev’ her engine a bit – then straighten her – and just sit back a bit and let her go. I don’t need to put leg on her or encourage her. When I forget that and ‘chase’ her – that’s when she gets too quick.  We didn’t work on flying changes today – her canter was still pretty ‘high’ and she worked so well, we called it a day.

I put Fling her a small paddock and got Faxx tacked up. It was a like trying to saddle a moving target. He was distraught over being (in his opinion!) entirely too far away from Fling. I took him out to lunge him and it was like flying a kite! Faxx was not this excited at his first show! I lunged him for probably ten minutes, but I finally stopped because I could tell he was not going to completely settle, no matter how long I lunged him. When I finally got on him I still felt like I was on a lit rocket. He was whinnying to Fling and she was whinnying back. At one point he started backing toward the barn and we wandered around a little before I was able to convince him the arena was where we were headed. Faxx is a huge mover – and when he’s on his tiptoes, it’s pretty intimidating!  I put on my big cowgirl panties, tho and dealt with it and juswt put him on a circle out of sight of Fling and started methodically insisting he listen to me.

Surprise, surprise, I was holding the left rein too much with Faxx, too.  What I had taken as his reluctance to bend right was just a symptom of me holding the outside (left) rein too much. Once he finally settled down and paid attention, he felt super. Faxx and Faeryn both have longer necks than Fling, which, while it’s pretty, also makes it trickier to ride them. With Fling, there’s only one place for her neck to be. With Faxx, he can more easily go behind the vertical, making his neck too short. We worked on riding him forward a bit, keeping my hands more together, and giving the inside rein whenever I could. When I first started riding Faxx last year, and asking him to take contact with the bit, he was very reluctant to do so. He’s come SUCH a long way. Today he was taking super contact, and I was able to do tiny half halts (forward and back) to ask him to collect a little, and then go forward. These are the first baby steps toward collection. 

We worked on getting his upward transitions to canter better – I need to remember to ride him foward with my inside seatbone (ie, keep it moving forward so I encourage him to step forward) and, at the same time, give the inside rein just a tad when I ask for the depart. The combination of these two actions will encourage him to step forward and up into the canter. Sometimes he goes “up” too much into the canter, without enough corresponding ‘forward.’

After we finished, I put Faxx and Fling into a small paddock and Fling spent the whole time herding him around. Faxx was perfectly happy to let her!  Then Marta and I went to a nearby Andalusian breeder, where she rode two horses and I watched her. It is here that I will ride one of them Wednesday. He is well confirmed in flying changes (to twos) and also does piaffe and passage.

So, I lived through the first day. Hopefully Faxx will be a bit easier tomorrow! But it’s supposed to SNOW tomorrow!!