Working on our lesson homework. Had a couple of moments in the trot where I really felt Saf spring up under me which I took as being on the right track. Using a steady outside rein to keep the neck straight and an opening inside rein to ask her to mobilise her jaw. Love her!
Scorchio lesson on Saturday morning. Spent today working on keeping my upper legs and hips loose and ‘off’. I need to allow Saf room to lift her back and she can’t do this if I’m squeezing her! I think I got a good feel for this so will try be aware of what’s going on there. We did a bit of work in canter as well, which felt lovely, I’m really learning to love Saf’s canter, which I never thought I’d do. Concentrating on keeping my hips and thighs relaxed is particularly important at this point, especially given that I tend to squeeze her if I feel she’s slowing down as mentioned in yesterday’s post.
I need to just ask Saf to do something, and then let her do the work. I’m too much of a ‘doer’ and end up doing more work than her and stifling her.
Wandered over to Bluegate on Saturday (well, an hour’s wander!) to hire their gorgeous arena. It really is a treat to have a go on it, but the main reason for our visit was to get some nice, relaxed work from Saf away from her home environment. We’ve not been here since September last year but Saf felt at home at once. A little tense at first, but got down to work pretty quickly. Had a quick walk, trot and canter to warm up, concentrating on keeping Saf focused on me. It’s a very quiet place, but Saf used the horses being brought in as an excuse to have a gawp.
Once the tension settled, I felt I could get my leg on her a little more, without the feeling that she would wizz off. Got some lovely work towards the end where we had both lateral and topline flexion, but Saf would respond with the third evasion, namely speed. She insists that she can bend correctly and flex her neck at the same time, but she has to slow down, so I then have to ask for forwardness, which she responds to but shortens her topline, and so it goes on!
The thing is, we could do all this and really knuckle down and got the same kind of work we get at home, so absolutely over the moon with her today!
Another great lesson last weekend! Worked on a few different things, starting with getting my legs more under by centre of gravity. I still have the annoying chair seat which keeps cropping up, so more revision required. You can see how it’s supposed to look in the first photo. I also had a ‘thing’ where my foot and hand on the same side, seem to get attracted to each other, so concentrating on trying to push them apart. This sorted, I got some much needed help with my rising trot.
We’ve done a lot of work sitting, but I have been frustrated by my rising trot for a while. I always had the feeling that my rise was wrong, and when I sat I was unbalanced and behind. As such, I felt like I was constantly fighting to keep up with Saf. Max had me keeping my heels further back, rising from my knees and coming further forward over the pommel. This helped tremendously and I’ve never felt a rising trot like it.
We then went on to canter. I used to get quite hunched forward in the canter, then found my core and sat back. In doing this I went too far the other way and tended to get left behind (you can see this in the first canter photos). So, more adjustment keeping my legs under my centre of gravity again, which puts me in a more balanced position. 20m circles, half trot, half canter, repeat, repeat, repeat 🙂
Finished with a little trot maintaining softness and inside bend. I was shattered! Saf seems totally fine haha! Lots to take in and digest 🙂
Sorry it’s been a bit quiet, just been mainly hacking so not much to report. Had a super session with Saf yesterday. It was very windy so she started off quite tense and fixed in her neck. Worked on 10m circles, so a 10m circle right, then straight away change to 10m circle left then continue up the arena. Seems to be working really well and does help Saf become a bit softer in her neck. By the time we’d done this a few times Saf was really soft, and suddenly seemed like she’d remembered what we’ve been working on the last few weeks.
Did a few walk, trot transitions making sure Saf was soft in her neck and listening before making the transition, she’s getting really good at this! Then did a few canter transitions making sure the trot was relaxed before asking. For some reason I seem to get a mental block with canter every year. It’s all going really well by the autumn, then we have the winter off and I just can’t seem to process what I am supposed to be doing. It’s not exactly Saf’s strongest pace either so between us and my self deprecation it all falls apart. I gave myself a stern pep talk today and am going to do a few 20m canter circles on each rein every session just to work through this mental block. Felt tonnes better today compared to Friday and managed to just relax into it a bit more.
So a great session, really pleased! All the ponies now happily installed in their summer quarters (we cheated, I know it’s not quite June yet!) This does mean that Saf needs to do twice as much work to keep her waistline in check! Penny is doing a grand job blending in, bonus points if you can spot her!
Been looking forward to another lesson with Max all week. Saf has been a sweetheart and worked really hard all week putting up with me experimenting with one thing or another. I really wanted to clarify in this lesson how my seat should be feeling in the saddle. I have gone from knowing very little about weight aids, to understanding (kind of) the feeling on sitting across the saddle, a feeling of being central. At the same time a ‘weight aid’ is not as simple as piling a load of weight onto my right seatbone to turn right, and vice versa for left. I cannot simply weight the desired seatbone and abandon the other one. My outside leg is now further behind the girth than I am used to, so that’s taking some thinking about. I can ask for inside flexion with the rein, but mustn’t be tempted to raise my hand and hold it there.
Excitingly, I am now at the stage where we can start getting a feel of lateral work. Max had me coordinating my legs, seat and rein aids and swapping from inside bend to shoulder-out (counter shoulder-in) on the left rein and shoulder-in and haunches in on the right rein. Non-horsey folk, I will try to explain these movements when I get a chance, but suffice to say they are effective suppling exercises designed to stretch out Saf’s contracted left side. I have to say that this part really was good fun, I’m itching to get back on board and have another play! Must be more aware of Saf’s posture though, and ensure she is standing straight and evenly before attempting to move off, plus watch out for her shoulders drifting left when on the right rein (that pesky right handedness!)
Had one of THOSE rides this morning. You know when you just feel so connected to your horse and it’s like they’re reading your mind. I concentrated really hard on what we did in my last lesson (first proper opportunity to do so). In walk, one handed or no rein contact, we just flowed from one circle to the next using just my weight. I know I’ve said it many times but Saf really is the best teacher I could wish for, she may as well be telling me in plain English what I’m doing right or wrong.
Did a little bit of trot work on large circles too, aiming to keep the weight aids going (but much harder in rising trot!) Saf now seems to find right rein easier, despite being a left bended horse. I suspect this may be to do with my right leg and hip being squashed up into the hip socket due to Saf’s barrel swinging to the right when doing a left circle. Plus I can hula hoop better to the right than to the left.