I blithely announced in a post a couple of weeks ago that Rogo went through his Training Level test well and I just needed to add polish and precision. Shannon from Its Quarters For Me rightfully asked (probably a little tongue in cheek :) ) if this was the hard part, and I've thought about it on and off since. I'm so glad she asked, because it helps me put things in perspective and be conscious of the fact that it will still be a long time before training level and level one are 'show ready'.
Off the top, I'd say polish and precision are harder, but the building blocks have never come easily to me. Rogo was my first time starting a horse and the basics of walk, trot, canter, halt, bend have taken a long time and he still isn't on the bit to the extent he should be. Let me tell you, for me, this was VERY hard :)
I'm writing this to remind myself of the priority areas for polish over the winter. We need to:
- Get the halt square. He is fairly good at staying straight into and out of the halt, but the left hind is often back a bit and if I put my leg on to bring it up he thinks it's turn on the forehand. I'm searching for the right balance of soft left leg / right rein, and also keeping the impulsion up when going into the halt. We also need to develop better ability to trot into and out of the halt.
- We let the 20 m circles slip a bit in both trot and canter. I need to drill those some, but I think they'll come back fairly easily (famous last words? Am I remembering them better than they were?).
- The working trot, as I've written many times, lacks impulsion. I'm still wondering a bit if there is a physical cause, but I don't think so because walk and canter are fine and he's good if he's motivated by ground poles or a walk around the field.
- Canter transitions, especially down transitions aren't good. He falls on his forehand coming down.
- Free walk needs to be straighter and have more impulsion.
- The stretchy trot circle shape isn't good.
- Changing bend on a serpentine or figure eight doesn't always work well (it's there sometimes)
Here's what is working fairly well most of the time:
- Transitions on the letter
- Stretching well down and forward for free walk and stretchy circle
- Staying straight and bending (but not changing bend quickly)
In a nutshell, most importantly we need to get on the bit and get impulsion at the trot - very elementary stuff.To help with the trot I learned to download music this weekend and am in the process of making myself a trot CD :)
On a separate matter, I swear I wasn't hinting, but my Mother read my internet shopping post and picked gifts for Doug and I. Mom, who lives with us for the winter, is in her eighties and emails and reads blogs, etc., fine (she has her own computer) but she wants me to do the internet ordering. Well okay, if I have to. She's so good to me.