Doug and I rode Savanah and Rogo today. I think Jennifer might have been there earlier and rode Dan - there were tracks in the snow. It was a perfect sunny day, a little cold, but nice for riding inside.
Doug and Savanah are doing so well. I can't believe he was off for a month - they are doing walk, canter, trot transitions and getting them perfectly. An invisible half halt, and then off they go into a nice engaged canter, 15 m circle, then trot and walk. Very nice. He's asking her for a little bit of collection at the trot now too, and she is responding well. She has a great trot and she likes to trot - how much fun is that?
Rogo surprised me today - he trotted very nicely right from the start - Yeah! He would bounce forward from calf pressure the way he should and rarely does early in the ride. I think there may be two reasons:
- the ground poles, free jumping, lunging and transitions are working
- he must have been out playing and well warmed up when we started (I didn't get there until mid afternoon and there was no one around, so this is a guess)
Instead of taking 30 or 40 minutes to get going well, he went well from the start, but then petered out after 40 minutes or so. This is the opposite of what usually happens. He always starts slow and then is going strong when it's time to quit after an hour, (I don't want to work him longer than that even though he's going well by then, in case I over tire him or make him sour). Once I figured out that he was fading instead of growing stronger we called it a day.
Before that happened we worked on forwardness and connection in the trot, walk and trot leg yield, and canter. His canter felt quite stiff today in that he was hard to steer, but generally it's been better lately, so I won't worry. I may be entirely to blame (partially for sure) in that I felt stiff too - I couldn't seem to connect and go with him. It felt like a fatigue thing with me, only I haven't done anything to be tired. One of those days I guess. Just being with him felt very joyful after the health scare. I'll be so glad when I have him home with me 24/7.
I have a vital new goal to achieve (okay, improve) before show season - good equitation. I know, it should be a given that it's an important goal at all times, but I neglected it with getting Rogo started and now it's kind of a mess. I can get on Savanah and keep a fairly correct position, but for some reason it doesn't translate to Rogo. When I canter on Savanah my legs stay long and heels down. When I canter on Rogo my legs and heels can creep up. It seems to be related to holding him in the canter, but I know this shouldn't be how I hold him in it. Also, I keep a good connection with Savanah and have a good, consistent weight in my hands all the time. With Rogo, I ask for connection and then give it away constantly, as soon as he gives or puts his head up. It seems to be muscle memory because unless I really focus on it I don't even know I'm doing it. I wanted to have light hands in starting him, but I've taken it too far and gone on too long. And my last really bad habit (I'm sure there are plenty more if I ever get these corrected) is my legs. For some reason it seems they just 'float' there at times instead of laying against him giving him clear messages or staying in touch with him. I would love to know of an exercise to strengthen my lower legs if anyone has any suggestions. This is key for me. I need an equitation boot camp!Rogo was especially cute and lovey today. After I put him back in his stall he actually asked to be kissed - he puts his nose against my lips and then gives little nudges for a kiss. If I stop, or after each kiss he gives a tiny nudge for another one. I'm embarrassed to say this went on for several minutes. I swear he'd stand all day and do this, and he had hay in his stall. I'm putty in his hooves :)
Conclusion, hold me to this:
- connection better established in two weeks (he's ready and can do this - this shouldn't be a stretch)
- legs correct in canter 75% of the time in two weeks (they are getting there and I can do it, it just needs focus)
- legs quietly on all the time instead of randomly floating some on the time - two weeks