It has been more than a year since I last rode Fling in the double bridle. I decided it was time to dust it off and get her reaquainted with it – if nothing else just to make sure she still is OK with it. She was very fussy at first – and really, who can blame her? The two bits alone must weigh 10 lbs! She has such a tiny mouth – I always feel bad ‘stuffing’ those huge hunks of metal in there! I do like the Herm Sprenger bits, though – for years I bought cheap stainless bits. Never again. The HS bits really do seem to be well-balanced, and the aurigan never fails to produce a nice wet mouth. The sugar cubes don’t hurt, either. Ideally, I would have a custom curb bit for her. The HS Conrad KK is the best bit I’ve found for her – but for the size of her mouth, it is stil, I feel, a tad too thick. I’ve had good rides on Fling the last few times – the canter is getting better. I’m getting better about insisting on more bend – which really is one of the keys to a good canter from her. Bending seems to ensure she uses her inside hind, and it’s the inside hind that is so crucial to creating a better canter for her. Getting her neck just a tad lower – from the withers, not overflexed at the poll – also gets her back up which also makes a huge difference. Once I got her over the fussiness, she worked well in the double. I don’t use the curb much. I don’t really have to. Just wearing the double seems to make her more ‘up’ in front. My curb rein is usually an inch or two longer than the snaffle rein, so it has minimal effect.
I rode Faeryn both Sat.and Sun. and finally had to ‘draw a line in the sand’ about giving to the rein. I mentioned earlier that she never really learned to half halt – she really half halts more from my seat/body but not the reins. She’s gotten better about responding to a half halt from the reins – but I noticed she would NOT flex her head/neck straight down when I asked her to give. She would give with one or the other rein if I had her neck slightly bent, but would just BRACE against the rein if I had her neck straight when I asked. This had to change. It turned out to be a fairly big battle – but it was one I needed to address and needed to win. Sometimes dressage is not pretty. But it is really like pulling a band-aid off – best to do it, do it quickly and get it over with. Faeryn turned out to be very stubborn about this issue. On Sat. she spent a fair amount of time backing up and threatening to rear. I asked her to give to the rein, she wouldn’t, and would back up to get ‘away’ from the pressure, but still refused to yield to it. I tried very hard not to pull BACK, but also not to GIVE just because she was backing up. I looked for the slightest amount of yield – even if it was accidental on her part – and would immediately give the rein. By the end of our ride, she still hadn’t quite ‘gotten’ it – but in the rest of our work was very, very good. The canter is really coming along – she is much more balanced, is standing ‘up’ much better in the canter and responding better to half halts.Sunday I rode her again and I did shoulder-in and haunches in to warm her up and her trot got very powerful and very ‘big.’ She felt super. The canter was the BEST I have ever gotten from her. Totally balanced, perfectly round and super bending around my leg, and in almost perfect self-carriage. She easily did the shallow canter serpentine from First 3, and I tested her with a ‘deeper’ serpentine – approaching the canter serpentine in Second level and she did well on that too. It was just a marvelous feeling. I then went back to asking her to yield to the rein on a straight line and again had a fairly prolonged battle with her – but finally achieved more definitive progress than the day before! We finished with some large turn on the haunches – she’s going to be good at this! Super, super ride. One of the best I’ve ever had on her. I love riding her – and it’s really quirky that almost every one of my friends, when they see me ride her, has commented “she is really ‘your’ horse.” I guess that’s true – some kids came up and down the street with loud four wheelers during our ride and she did impressive spins and attempted bolts each time and really nothing she does ruffles my feathers, scares me or makes me mad! It’s just part of who she is! LOL! And really, she needs that energy for dressage so I’m actually glad she’s a bit hotter!
Next weekend Faeryn is going to a schooling show. I’m showing her First 1 and 3. It will be her first time to show the new tests, and although she won Res Champ at First level in the HDS schooling show year end awards – it will also be her first time to show the highest test of the level. Test 3 has a canter tour that ‘goes on forever’ and since Faeryn has had canter issues, we didn’t show it last year. I don’t expect her to have any trouble with it at this point. I’ve ridden the canter portion of the test several times lately with no trouble. I really expect her to be ready to show second level by fall.