It’s been a while since my last post, not because I’ve been lazy and haven’t posted! But because I just haven’t ridden. Which is unfortunate but my schedule got away from me :S Anywho, I’m back! I rode Carbo today in the blazing hot sun (*sigh* heaven). As per what is our current “usual”, we did most of our work at the walk – a lot of leg yielding, shoulder-in, haunches-in and 3 loop serpentines. It’s all still done with a longish rein, but we’re working on shortening them and getting a little more organized. However, I’m finding that riding with a longer rein is allowing me to really feel when my half halts go through – I guess because the entire movement is more exaggerated and thus so is the response.
After I got some really nice steps of shoulder-in at the walk I kicked (not literally) him up to the trot for a break and let him stretch out as a bit of a reward. He did start out the first couple strides giraffing but I kept my hands steady and put my legs on and he went to work pretty quickly. We had a really nice, forward trot today which really let me concentrate on getting him to bend properly around my leg through circles and figure-8’s. I did find that my eyes were wandering downwards today, looking at where his headset was. When I figured out what I was inadvertently doing (closer to the end of the ride, of course) I concentrated on keeping my eyes up and did a few quick succession transitions – walk to trot, trot to walk, and made sure he moved forward into the transitions, especially the downward ones. This may sound like a contradictory term to some, moving forward into the downward transition, but what I mean is that he doesn’t drop from the trot to the walk, he keeps his impulsion and moves steadily from one gait to the other.
We were doing so well that I decided to bump him up into the canter. Usually I prefer to go walk to canter because it’s just that much more organized. But I’ve decided that I do that too much and need to practice my trot to canter transitions and since I’m not worrying about headset right now I figured it was a perfect time to try. It was not a pretty transition. He hollowed; I hunched my shoulders and leaned into the transition but thankfully it was only 2 strides of sitting trot and we were cantering. I didn’t keep it going long because he really doesn’t have the muscles, so we just cantered down one long side. It was nice and forward, he didn’t invert and I really sat up and used my seat. This was going to the left, which apparently is my good side because going to the right was craptacular. It was disorganized and he was running on the forehand – not horribly, but more than I would have liked. For such a short canter I feel that we should keep it together a little bit better than what we did. But I guess that just gets added to the list of stuff we have to work on!
Overall, I’m absolutely thrilled with how Carbo is progressing. I also feel a lot better about my riding. I’m thinking more about my position and about being correct and effective – no nagging legs or hands! I mean, it still happens, but I’m catching myself at it and retraining my muscle memory. I guess I’m doing an ok job – Carbo doesn’t run away at the sight of the saddle!