Back from another fabulous lesson with Rui. He was really pleased with our progress, and noticed that I was more on Saf’s case and not letting her look about. We were in the long arena at Bluegate this time, which was great as I’d love to do a long arena prelim but wasn’t sure how Saf would behave in such an open arena with no fences! My fears were unfounded, as apart from a bit of a look at the judges box when she first saw it, she was very good.
We started by doing some work on 20m (ish!) circles in walk and trot, to get Saf looking to the inside. We had lots of nice bits where she dropped the neck and relaxed, if only for a few moments. We did this on both reins, with the left rein being apparently easier as she prefers to bend this way, although I was finding myself using a lot of leg to keep her out of the circle, she’d have sat on Rui’s lap if I’d let the circle get any smaller!
We moved on to some walk to halt work, which although very basic, is something we neglect to work on. Saf was happy to halt at random markers, and drop her nose on command (see pic), then move off when asked. She got this quite quickly, so we tried it on the centre line – different story! Firstly she wouldn’t halt, then when she did and I asked her to soften she’d fidget. With some help from Rui, we got her stood up, and Rui clocked that it was probably due to me being tense and forgetting to breathe. Once I took a deep breath and relaxed, the difference was instant.
Finally we moved on to canter work (exciting!) Saf did her trademark tanking off into extended canter. We’d got to grips with this at home, and she’s much calmer, but will tank off in the competition environment. Again Rui thought this was due to my tension, not breathing, and learning forwards and grabbing the reins in anticipation. We did lots of trot / canter transitions and gradually got me to relax and really THINK about what I was doing. We ended with a lovely calm transition and canter, whereby we called it a day to end on a good note.
Thrilled with my super pony, it’s a shame we’re coming to the end of summer as I really feel like we’re getting somewhere!