Putting the Steffen Peters symposium stuff to work

It’s been a busy week and I haven’t had a chance to ride much. So today was the first time I could really concentrate and try to put into practice some of the stuff I learned at the Symposium last weekend. Faxx and Faeryn were the ‘victims’ today. I didn’t get far with Faxx since it was a) very windy and b) I had a large stack of railroad ties delivered last week and stacked next to the arena.  Despite the fact Faxx (and everyone else) has been investigating them all week in the pasture, today was the first time he got to see them from inside the arena. Oh, horrors! They look SO much different from INSIDE the arena than from OUTSIDE the arena. In a very un-Faxx-like fashion, he actually spooked and bolted with me. It’s pretty impressive when he bolts. It took me about 60 feet to get him stopped, and from then on out, he was convinced any and everything at that end of the arena was out to eat him. Also very un-Faxx-like. So, despite the fact we have a schooling show tomorow, we didn’t get much ‘real’ training done – but I did win the battle and he at least consented to work quietly at that end of the arena by the time were were through. I did get very animated and collected gaits from him, though!  When life gives you lemons…..

Up next was Faeryn, who is usually the one who is tres spooky when it’s windy. Interestingly enough, she was quite focused and didn’t bat an eye at the stack of railroad ties, or even seem to notice the wind.  We warmed up at walk, but not long and low. I noticed that Faeryn wants to fall on her forehand and go behind the vertical worse at the walk than any other gait. So I made a concentrated effort to refuse to ‘carry’ her and make her step up more from behind and get lighter in the bridle. I then did some lateral work in walk – leg yield with her head to the ‘wall’ to really get her hind legs engaged, shoulder-in and leg yield and some ‘baby’ turn on the forehand.I’m  trying to look forward to Second level – which I hope she’ll be ready to do at schooling shows by next spring. Her canter has been problematic lately and i’ve been trying to diagnose the problem. I took her to Marie on Wednesday, and in my effort to get her bent around my leg and going from inside leg to outside rein, as usual I’ve overdone it, and I’ve pushed her shoulders out too much and made her crooked. A bit of renvers was the prescription. And I also have been trying to ‘micromanage’ the canter too much instead of putting her where she should be and expecting her to stay there without constant help from me.  Her canter was much better today – both directions. So then I worked a bit on walk/canter transitions and canter/walk transitions. Of course the canter/walk is harder, and she had two or so trot steps most of the time- but you have to start somewhere.  Her canter felt so good I tried the 3-loop serpentine where one loop is done in counter canter. She handled it pretty well both directions. the most common thing when they start this is to try and speed up during the counter canter portion of the serpentine – but she didn’t.

Like many amateurs, I don’t ask enough of my horses. I’m happy to accept what they offer and don’t ask for more. As Steffen said, when you’re schooling – school for the 9 – don’t school for the 6.  If you’re only getting 6s at home, you’re not going to get 7s at a show.  When I rode Fling the other day I did think about this – and started asking for more bend and more impulsion in the half pass, and also half pass at a steeper angle.

I also took Steffen’s advice to heart and worked on some lengthenings/mediums but without ‘throwing her away.’  I think because of working on the canter transitions, her trot was better.

Faeryn already has her winter coat – as does Fling – and as a result, with our warmer weather this week, she sweats pretty easily. Today we were both quite sweaty when we finished!  It was a really good session and I am very pleased with the quality of work I’m getting out of her on the new harder stuff.


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