Monday, 10 December 2007

Those pesky shoulders!

I very nearly didn't ride yesterday. Not only was I slightly worse for wear after a wedding on Saturday, it was blowing a gale and had been pouring with rain all morning. I had left a stack of marking to do in the afternoon, and I generally was feeling pretty lazy. However, when I got to the yard, the rain had stopped and the indoor school was free for half an hour, so I decided to just go in briefly. I'm so glad that I did.

Saturday had been another slightly awkward day - I rode Echo in the outdoor school, but it was very wet and she really hates working in there when it's like that. My plan was to school her briefly then take her for a walk on her own around the cross country course. She was not really in the mood, to be honest. She tensed through her body whenever we went through a puddle, she was on the forehand and was falling out horrendously through her outside shoulders. I have lost my schooling whip (on a hack - long story!) and realised that I couldn't really school her without one. I borrowed one from a friend but was already irritated by that point. I worked on loads of leg yielding - the opposite way to the way I would normally do it. When on the right rein, I would normally leg yield left from the three-quarter line to the track. However, to engage the shoulders, I was leg yielding right, off the track onto the three-quarter line. Although it wasn't the most successful leg-yielding, it did make her use her body a little more.

The hack afterwards was useless too. They are now grazing the section of the cross country course that I decided to ride down, so I got to the end of a track and had to turn around again. I also lost my dog for a while, so made Echo stand still for a couple of minutes while I called and whistled. She was very obedient, but it was not a very successful day. (Although I did find the dog ;))

Yesterday, however, was lovely. Whenever I really push her the day before, she is always very good the following day. She didn't fall out at all and didn't slip on to her forehand. As she was 'up' in her carriage, rather than 'on the forehand', I decided to have a go at what my trainer suggested ages ago - trying to ride the trot more forwards. He said not to really ask for medium trot, but at the moment she is trotting around very comfortably. He told me to start to show her that she needs to work a little with her hind legs. She got the idea of this in the end, although it needs work! She just rushed for a while, but by the end I felt her power forwards and take the bridle. It felt lovely!

The canter transitions are still not great, particularly on her more difficult right rein, but the actual canter is really improving. We can do a couple of laps of the indoor school without motorbiking the corners now! The transitions need more work, but I think she is definitely becoming stronger. We'll keep at it! She was so affectionate yesterday. She is not an overly affectionate horse all the time - she is happy to be dealt with and fussed, but unless there's food involved, she can really take you or leave you. However, yesterday she was really interested in what I was doing - sniffing my hair, nuzzling my neck and relentlessly undoing the zips, poppers and Velcro on any piece of clothing she could find on me. She's so cute when she's in that kind of mood - it's like having a toddler around!

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Daily adventures while training my young horse.