He's starting to really get more interactive with me too and seems like he wants to hang out more. Like when I turn him out, he hangs at the gate for a minute or two for snuggles. Or shenanigans. ;) And in my lessons, (aside from the weird exception like the other day), he really steps up to the plate. :)
So... yeah.... ;)
Anyways, we had another lesson with Kelly this weekend. It was awesome!! Danny came to work and we had a great ride. Kelly noticed that the connection was much better and overall he was much more in front of my leg. :) So... we worked on that a good bit. He really felt REALLY NICE!!! Like 2nd level nice!!
Some reminders for me....
- Keep the steady connection in both reins and when he softens, soften but keep my elbows by my side and own my elbows. Soften by softening my hands on the reins, not letting my elbows creep forward.
- Keep my hands wider than I'm used to. The same width as my elbows. Duh. :)
- When he comes "off the bit", first think "Is he straight?" and address that issue by getting the hind end in line with the shoulders and the shoulders in line with the hind end. Then think "Is he forward?" and address that by riding him forward up into the bridle.
- Speaking of, set my elbows, and then ride him forward into them. Don't wiggle his head down. Use my leg, my seat, and my whip as needed. Then when he gets there, soften slightly. There should be a fairly heavy feel in my hands. That's the connection. It should be steady and when it's steady I can soften some. It's also okay, for now, if he leans on me just a bit. This is helping him as he's weak still. As long as he's not pulling me down to the ground and I can stay firm in my core, he can hang a little.
- Watch his ears. Whichever ear is down, that is the side I need to half halt on.
- Hold him "up" with my core. Think of the feeling I want when jumping. It felt a little bit like I was sinking down into my seat while still lifting my crotch and almost pushing my feet the teeniest bit forward (flashlight feet). And sit up tall and lift my upper back. And don't look down. If I look down, it's much easier for him to pull me forward and down. If I stay chin up, I can feel him start to pull me down and sink into my core and hold him. (Remember the feeling when Kelly took the reins and had me sink down into my heels and seat).
- When tracking left he wants to lose that shoulder to the right. So I counteract that by bringing my right hand to his withers and opening my left/inside rein. This guides his right shoulder back over.
- When tracking right, he still wants to lose his shoulder to the right. So he falls in. It makes me want to counter bend him and hold him up on the left side. Which is.... not really what I should be doing. I should be kicking him off my inside leg and putting him in the outside rein. But baby steps. So, first, make sure that I am actually turning my body to the right. I tend to block him and throw my shoulders and pelvis to the left, so I have to really think about shifting myself to allow the right bend (Remember from my Cindy lesson when I had to look down at my shoulder... duh, bend my body Holly!) Then I need to bring my right hand to his withers and open the left/outside rein. However, I can't throw away the outside rein and throw it forward, keep the connection but open it a bit. And think more bend, without allowing him to just break at the neck. Ugh.. that side is hard. Especially because I want to intuitively do it wrong.
So then we went to the canter. We started talking about how when he gets to that most lovely place he was giving me, then I can start to do anything.... the lateral work is there. We discussed the counter canter and I told her it was hard but we were getting better. She said that he probably gets a bit flat and I agreed. So we decided to work on the canter. And getting it "collected". Not so much in the true sense of collected canter, but just a more rocked back canter that would make the counter canter easier.
WOW!!! Baby horse totally stepped up to the plate! We started out cantering and Kelly made me sit up and tall and almost back. Not leaning back, but tall in my upper back. Then she had me hold my elbows firm. Then I started to half halt some when needed and get him into a nice "frame" and nice canter. Then.... we started to half halt a bit more and add more leg and really get him collected. Holy Moly!!! It was lovely. And then he broke to the trot. :) Of course. It's HARD! Kelly said that I needed to make that hard for him. When he breaks, I need to get after him, make him turn on the forehand, etc... Like Cindy says. It needs to be harder work than continuing to canter. Now, we realize he's young and it's hard, so we tried very hard to ask him to hold it just a few steps more when he wanted to break and then asked him to come down to a trot so we could reward. After a few tries, he held the canter and it got amazing!! Then when he was just about to break, I'd close my leg and cluck and he would save it and keep cantering. It was that awesome rocked back lovely floaty uphill canter. :)
So we didn't actually get to the counter canter, but... it'll come quickly once he's strong enough to hold that canter. :)
Wheeee!! So much fun today!