Things Are Changing By The Day

I drove down to Port Williams in the late afternoon to ride Rogo. It was sunny and -2 C, although pretty much dark by the time I arrived. Friday night of a holiday weekend - the barn was almost deserted. Two riders were finishing up, so I was all set to have the arena to myself for the second half of my ride.
This is rare here, but that isn't a complaint. There are usually lessons going on all day everyday through the week, and into the evening. You can show up and Sue will fit you in if it's at all possible. Sometimes this means riding with one or two other people, which is a good exercise, but most often my lessons are individual.
Back to my ride - I warmed up with free walk, doing some loops and crossing the diagonal. Then I trotted serpentines wall to wall and did lots of trot circles.  I think I was doing a better job of the circles, but I won't know until I ride them with Sue watching. As I mentioned in my last post, I can't see or feel that they were wrong, so until I can it's hard to fix them. I thought about them a lot since my last lesson and I think that I was really having a mental block. I think I've been riding in such a way that I was over correcting a previous problem and in doing so, thought the problem was fixed. Then when Sue brought it to my attention, I thought the old problem was back,... anyway, I'll spare you the navel gazing details on this occasion only :)  (hmmm, maybe it's too late for that) but if I'm right I'll be well on my way to getting things corrected. Fingers crossed.
On to canter. I gave the canter aid when we were doing a nice engaged trot, and... full, instant, braced, stop. Damn. Move forward, get him straight, give the aid, stop. I can't believe it. We're back to that again. I gave him a few kicks and a whack with the whip, but he wasn't convinced he should canter. This made me tense, so when I did get him to canter apparently I didn't let him go forward enough and he stopped again. Jane Fraser was watching and she told me to let him go, push him forward as soon as we cantered. I tried it and yes, it worked! He was nicely forward, but not over the top at all. This nice forward canter cleared up any problems we were having and we went on to do the best canter work he's done since he started the 'canter rebellion' (associated with insisting on engagement / using his hind quarters).
I could push him up into my hands and then move him in and out on a circle, lengthen and shorten, change his bend, speed up and slow down, etc. I know this is elementary, and even at that it needs much more work, but it's a big improvement. To make it interesting I asked him for canter walk numerous times, and also for a couple of canter halts. I knew from some of his rebellious behaviour in the last few weeks that he was quite capable of a canter halt, so why not do it occasionally? He'll go from canter to walk with a couple of trot steps, and he'll actually do canter halt with just one step to halt, and from quite a light aid (I use my voice too). Who knew? Maybe I shouldn't ask for it yet, but oddly he seems to like doing it even when he's beautifully forward and he didn't try to do it on his own after the initial cantering problem. Maybe he'd like reining? We could develop this into a slide? My 17 hand reiner :)
So lessons learned from tonight:
  • remember to ride the circles from tangent point to tangent point, using eight points
  • use the inside leg and outside rein to do this, with inside rein and outside leg as needed
  • Sue told me that canter is going to push his Rebel Rogo button for awhile; don't sweat it and just work through it
  • re the above, riding nicely forward right away in canter gets him over it
  • doing lots of trot canter trot transitions makes him want to canter non stop :) Guess it's less work than the transitions
After the ride I had a delicious supper of ribs, salad and red wine with Sue, Jane and working student Maria. It was a great evening. Now I'm in my trailer and getting ready to crawl in bed with a book. Another ride in the morning and then home for New Year's Eve. It will be a quiet one of cooking, eating, sipping wine and watching movies with Mom and Doug.
Happy New Year everyone!


Kelly said…
I never thought a group lesson would be a good idea until I watched my daughter in a few at her working student position. Normally, she says, there are 2 riders taking a lesson - but her trainer has done up to 4 at a time. The concentration and timing it takes. on the trainer's part, is fascinating to me.

Anyway, Happy New Year...your New Year's Eve plans sound lovely!
TBDancer said…
Another good "group" lesson involves your instructor on HER horse. She does some dressage movement (l/y, s/i, etc.), explaining the cue(s) she is giving, and you ride behind her, "shadowing" the movement.

Glad you feel positive about your progress--we read "positive" into your entries even though you may not feel you're improving. Keep up the good work and travel safely home for New Year's.
Carol -

I hope you realize how your hard work and dedication have been paying off with Rogo. You've mentioned some sticking points, but always seem to resolve them handily and move forward, lessons learned. I'm excited for you that you're getting access to quality instruction.

You and Rogo have a great future ahead of you, and are a beautiful team. Keep up the good work!!

Sending you warmest wishes for the New Year!
Sounds like your canter work went very smoothly once you got him to listen. I'm sure there are great things to come for you both in 2012.

Happy New Year to you all!
Jan said…
Carol, It sounds like it was a wonderful session- sometimes the best ones are those that we try something a little different and get a great result.

I agree with the other commenters - you are so dedicated and always learning! You are fun to read also!

Like my continuous learning about how to canter better, I recently read a tip from deep in the bowels of the website of Julie Goodnight about cantering, wrote it down, took it to the barn, and yesterday tried it with Buckshot. I had a thrilling ride with him at the canter!

Today, however, was not so good. It can change from day to day. But progress, and learning, is still occurring. You and Rogo have come so far! Congratulations on your many triumphs!
Donna said…
Great post. I love your summary of what you learned.
Achieve1dream said…
Sounds like a good, productive ride!! Happy New Year!