I found out this week that Faxx was the Adult amateur reserve high point, National Level (Training – Fourth level) for the HDS Spring Show I, (Friday and Saturday) and also for the HDS Spring Show II (Sunday.)
Every show determines champions in a different way. At the Tyler show, they took your two highest scores to determine champions. At the HDS show, it was determined by the single highest score.
I’ve been thinking about Faxx’s reluctance to take contact at the show – especially on Sunday. When I rode him today, he was taking such steady, good contact, it seemed difficult to imagine this was the same horse who was so fussy about taking contact at the show.
As I was riding him, I had a thought. Maybe he was reluctant to take contact because the first time I felt him back off from the contact, I started ‘tiptoeing around’ the issue and rode him less ‘assertively’ than I do at home? Maybe the better solution would have been to take MORE contact and use more leg to push him toward the contact. I did use more seat/leg – but when I drove him forward, I didn’t take as much contact with the reins as I do at home. I’ll try to remember that at the next show.
I rode Faeryn this evening. She is coming along very well. I am starting to do small ‘forward and back’ exercises at trot and canter to get her more ‘adjustable’ and to get her to carry more weight on her hind end. This is the beginning of collection. She does the classic break to trot sometimes when I ask her at canter. But she is very tuned into my seat, and, especially at trot, I can get the forward and back just from asking with my seat. The canter is a bit trickier to get her to come ‘back’ – which also is very common. I have the same problem with Fling – quite happy to go forward just from my seat – but not as obedient about coming back. Faeryn is also learning to pick up canter departs from the walk. It’s really astounding how much her canter has improved in the past six months. I am also doing the shallow loop canter serpentine that’s found in First 4 and she’s doing it well.
The hardest part for me, as a ‘trainer’ for my horses – is to be able to clearly see the path I need to take to get from “A” to “B”….A, being the level we’re currently schooling/showing, and B being the next level up. Right now it’s really hard to imagine either Faeryn or Faxx having the strength and balance to be able to do the canter/walk transitions required in Second Level. Hopefully, in another year they’ll both have progressed so much that it will just seem like a tiny next step instead of a huge leap.
Heck, I remember when Faeryn’s canter was so awful, Marta and I were both stumped as to what exactly the issue was. And now her canter circles regularly score 8s. Sometimes the advances in training come in such small increments that it can feel like you’re not making much progress—which is one reason I write this blog. Looking back at some of my entries helps me remember just how far we’ve come – and not just how far we’ve yet to go.