In the last few weeks I feel like Fling has really improved. The changes I’ve made in my riding – lengthening my stirrups, and trying to sit deeper, help her less, and stay relaxed in my seat – seems to be helping. Also, the strengthening exercises I’ve been doing to help her right hind, and constantly reminding her she cannot avoid carrying weight on her right hind by swinging her haunches out also seem to be working. She feels much more through, especially at the canter, and her trot feels like it has more impulsion . So I took her to Marie’s for a lesson for a ‘reality check’ to see if my impressions are correct.
It is really gratifying when what I feel and what knowledgeable eyes on the ground see are in sync.Marie said her trot just keeps getting better and better. We had a great lesson and worked really hard – there’s always room for improvement! Marie says she still needs to be stronger, so we continue to work on haunches in at all gaits, but especially the canter. it’s reallly hard for her and she continually tries to throw me on my outside seatbone so I can’t infuence her inside hind so much. We also worked on getting her to listen better to my aids, especially at the canter, with little forward and back exercises. With everything going on in my life, I haven’t even thought about showing her this year – but if things keep going like this, I may try to show her in October at Great SW Equestrian Center.
So I’ve ridden Fling a few times in our ‘new regime’ and took her to Marie’s and got some ore helpful tips. Marie gave me some exercises to make her more responsive to my half halts in the canter and to make her canter straighter.
Marie saw improvement from what I’d been doing on my own, but agreed Fling is still ignoring my half halts at the canter. Fling is very strong – as Marie says, that is a positive thing (esp when it comes to canter pirouettes) but she can ‘use it against me’ even if unintentionally. The longer we canter, the more she wants to GO and the less she listens to my aids.
To combat that, Marie first had me go on a 20m circle and go forward four strides, then come back to very collected canter for four strides, lather, rinse, repeat. When she was doing that well, we tried doing it on the long side or across the diagonal, but she again wanted to blow through my aids. So, Marie had me go across the diagonal, do a 10 meter circle at X, then do another 10 meter circle near S and then half pass to the rail.This is a perfect exercise for Fling because it totally defuses her notion that going across the diagonal equals “Off to the races!” Marie said a more advanced version of this exercise would substitute schooling pirouettes for the circles. We then worked on her canter piros and she was much better than before. I got her straighter off my outside rein and sat more evenly on both seatbones. We did some flying changes then, and our major problem is she is throwing her haunches to the left. The fix was to break down the exercise, so we worked on just picking up the canter on centerline, concentrating on keeping her very straight – because she even wants to swing her haunches there. I did multiple departs down the center line and she got better. My other homework is to continue to ask her to do haunches in to the right, half pass to the right and head-to-the-wall leg yields to get her stronger on that right hind.So, that was last weekend, and even though I’ve gotten home late from work most days this past week, I’ve worked on the above, and she’s getting straighter in her canter departs. After another week of this, I will see how the changes go again. Her canter in general is already much better than it was a month ago. Today I rode Faeryn and she also is much better. Marie’s prescription for her is also right hind strengthening, so she is doing the same exercises as Fling. And her canter has also improved a lot. The mosquitoes are so bad here – even though we’ve hardlly had any rain – it’s like something out of a horror movie. I was able to ride this evening, but only after drenching Faeryn and myself in bug repellant. I hope tomorrow is better and I also hope I have time to ride all three. I had to help my parents pack in advance of their move most of the day today so only had time to ride one horse.