I have been working on keeping my seat and my body more ‘neutral’ during canter on Fling,and to a lesser degree, Faeryn. I was hampering her ability to truly collect at the canter because my seat was saying ‘go’ while the rest of me was telling her to collect. Her canter work – collection and self-carriage – has gotten much better. As a result, her canter half pass has gotten much better as well. Part of that is due to the more collected canter, but it’s also due to me riding the half pass better. In my last session with Debbie, she told me to keep my inside leg relaxed and not clamped against her, and to align my shoulders with Fling’s shoulders. And also to use more inside rein to keep her bent, and to half halt on the inside rein if needed. I also have to really think about sitting more evenly on my seatbones.
So today I rode Faxx for the first time in several weeks. Since my arena is unrideable, I have been riding Faeryn and Fling in the pasture, but I am not quite comfortable yet riding Faxx in the pasture. I have no lights yet in my round pen, and since Faxx needs to be lunged before being ridden (only because he’s cold backed, not because he is naughty or needs to be ‘tired out’ before riding) I don’t really have enough daylight during the week to do that. I hate lunging and I really hate lunging with side reins even more – just takes too long. But I have discovered that lunging him with side reins makes him much more responsive once I get on him. And even though it’d been a while since I did ride him, you wouldn’t have known it by the way he rode. But, riding in a round pen can really be telling. It was very obvious, since all I could do was a large circle or a small circle – that he does not bend as well to the right. The first thing I did was to reallly think about sitting more on my right seatbone, since I really tend to sit more to the left. And I worked on sending him forward at the canter, and bringing him back to an almost collected canter, and then sending him forward again. He felt great. I tried a few canter/walk transitions – he’s not strong enough quite yet for that – and since it’d been awile since he’s been ridden, I did not want to overface him when he’s not in super shape yet. But he was definitelly getting the idea, and he only trotted two or so steps before coming to walk. We had better luck with walk to canter – that’s easy for him.
So, even when I take a lesson on one horse, all of my horses generally benefit, since most riders – myself included – tend to have the same issues with every horse they ride.