I had two wonderful lessons with Joan. We're starting at the first again, to quickly review. First was my equitation and working on having a perfect position. It's far from perfect, but we're working on it. What else can I do? The main problem is that my legs still aren't still when I trot. Also, my heels come up when I trot - I start posting off the balls of my feet. Bad Carol.
Then we worked on slow, medium and fast walk to get him to tune into the aids and move forward from my leg more. To slow, I reduce 'giving' with my hand, and reduce the follow of my seat and legs. This also shortens the stride. In time we will only shorten and lengthen stride without changing tempo, but for now it is slower and faster. This sounds boring and very basic, but it really gets the horse to tune in and listen. Also, to pay more attention to a squeeze from the calves - when they are going very slow they are waiting for the signal to move forward, and will surge forward nicely when it comes. To move from slow to medium squeeze with both legs and then follow more with seat and hands. To go fast, roll the calves on and off in time with the corresponding hind leg hitting the ground. It works very well for regulating the speed and length of stride, but getting the timing and correct lag movement takes some practice. Joan calls this gaiting - has anyone else used the term for this? It doesn't seem to be in common practice now but I found a gaiting definition in an internet search that corresponds with this. Most use the term for a gaited horse.
We moved to slow, medium and fast trot. After practicing that we practiced ramener - the beginning of collection. She's introduced it before, but because we can't work together regularly I didn't keep it up. Rogo started to get it during our lesson. Joan was quite pleased with him. A couple of times he tucked his hindquarters and rounded nicely onto the bit, even carrying it for a couple of steps when I released it. To do it you push with the seat, apply the legs and gently hold with the reins or vibrate the reins ever so slightly. Rogo responds best to a light vibration. Also, he responds nicely to moving forward at the trot after we do a slow trot.
At our next lesson we practiced halt and half halt. For halt I retard the hands - stop giving with them, as I push with my seat and legs into my hands. His hind quarters should come up beneath him, and halt, so he is ready to move off. Then I release and he should stand straight and square, without moving until asked.
For half halt I apply seat and legs first, into the hands which capture the energy created and hold it as long as needed - an instant or a few seconds. Some people start the half halt with the hands, the same as the halt, but Joan explains both ways and suggests the hands come last. It all happens almost simultaneously.
Then we worked on canter transitions After all this time I still don't feel like I give them crisply and clearly, but they seem to figure it out, God bless them. Two quick feels with the inside rein, two light taps with the outside heel behind the girth simultaneously with the hands, inside seat bone slightly forward and down and off they canter. We did this a few times, preceded by half halts, and did a few from the walk. He takes a trot step and then canters.
Riding on my own yesterday I decided to canter figure eights, and practice the canter transitions and the change of direction in the figure. Rogo kept right on cantering and did a counter canter circle after cantering a circle on the 'correct' lead. I was surprised so did it a couple of more times to be sure and yes, he was doing it nicely. What a good boy!
Joan's husband is very ill and in hospital now. I won't be able to have lessons for awhile. I'll be spending a lot of time with them and may not be blogging too much for a while. We'll see.