Tuesday, April 13, 2010

We're Back!

Ringo and I are back in action! We had our first lesson since coming back to Stanford, and he was AMAZING! He's never felt so good before. Ever. He was loose and relaxed, to the point where I felt like I could take the next step in asking for more trot, more collection, and more expression of movement. He was straight and on the aids, and I felt like I did a good job correcting him when he tried to lean on my inside leg. We were able to do things that I've never really done with him (or any horse for that matter) before, like trot half-passes, canter half-passes into flying changes and into counter canter, and the most lovely straight line flying changes we've ever done. We also developed a really good strategy for doing a mini half-halt and release to let him relax a bit when he starts to feel pressured (which he makes very clear by sticking his tongue out!) that seemed to work well and kept the tongue appearances to a minimum. I also came away with some good, clear "homework" guidelines: bumping him with my calves (or my spur) to keep encouraging him to step up more with his hind end, riding with my reins SHORT so that my hands carry half-way up the white part of his mane, and using my hands in a more sympathetic and quieter way to discourage him getting fussy in the bridle.

Today I just lunged him and really focused on tracking up at the trot while maintaining a nice and slow cadenced rhythm. Ringo is such a pleasure to lunge; he's probably the best trained horse I've ever come in contact with. It's really fun to actually get to watch his body relax and his trot improve.

Kiki, on the other hand, has been a total snot the past few days, though she is definitely getting calmer and more acclimated day by day. I'm trying to find a good balance between firmness and gentleness with her; the line between being just strong enough and too harsh with her is very fine and seems to change every day! She definitely keeps me guessing. I'm toying with the idea of using draw-reins on her; I'm pretty opposed to draw-reins in general but felt with Dually that I reached a good system where I was using them in a positive way. At the moment, Kiki gets to a place where she just shuts down to the aids and becomes basically unstoppable. I'd like to try the draw-reins just to use when she gets like that to be able to say, "NO you must respond in SOME WAY when I make a half-halt; completely blowing me off is NOT an option" and then be able to bag them again as soon as she does respond. On the other hand, she is already sensitive to contact and I want above all to keep riding a positive experience for her; I'd hate to inadvertently back her off. I'll have to think it over a bit more.

Semi-related photo of the day:

(Dually and I rock the draw-reins at Rebecca Farm 2009)


Eventing4Life said...

I've been reading your blog for a couple of weeks now and I absolutely love it! I think a lot of my goals are like yours so it's a lot of fun to read about :)
So anyways, I was wondering if you're planning on going to Rebecca Farm this year? I live in Montana and even if I don't compete, I'm sure I'll be up there watching. So ya...just wondering :)

Katherine Erickson said...

Thanks for reading!

Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be at Rebecca this year. I had AN AMAZING time last year, but have decided to go home to Massachusetts this summer so its a little out of my sphere of travel! 2011, for sure =)

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