Friday, May 28, 2010

My pony proves me wrong at every turn

So, we haven't done much real work lately. We've been to the show, and we went in a parade, and we went on a camping trip this past weekend but no real schooling.

Tonight was our first lesson back with Christina (she's off maternity leave, yay!) and there were a couple of things I told her I'd like to work on, pending his cooperation (I was anticipating him having brain farts galore with all the time off): I wanted to begin work on rating his canter (in the post about the show, you'll see what I mean), and something else that came up that I said I wanted to work on was sidepassing (like, to open a gate) because we have a judged trail ride or two we want to go to later this summer and one of the things they have you do a gate.

So anyway, I said when we start cantering, he'd probably canter fast and be a bit unbalanced because...he usually is, so Christina just said we'd see how things worked out.

We warmed up, walk, trot, a little bit of serpentines at the walk (asking him to do a faster walk on one half a serpentine, then free walk on the other half, then back again). She had us do slow trotting on the short sides of the ring and then work to get him to extend down the long sides. She had me do some two point and then try to get him to move out more while still in two point ("squeeze with your calves, but don't take them off and then squeeze" she said and I said, "but it already feels like my calves are squeezing!" so I figure I have to work on that as it's likely a muscle issue on my part). Anyway, he was generally very good for all this though he was tending to try to lower his head and lean on the bit. I just tried not to give him rein when he did it (as I was figuring that he was trying to get me to let the reins out) but Christina said when he tried it, I should think about raising my inside rein to make him less inclined to lean like that.

Then, before I got too tired, we did some cantering. First she just had us canter once around each direction and wouldn't you know it? Each time he gave me a very nice rhythmic, balanced canter that felt amazing. No rushing, no running into it. I was kind of disappointed to have to stop at the end of a lap, LOL. Then she set out a pole that she first had us trot over so he knew it was there, then canter over. The idea was that after he cantered over it, she'd ad another pole a canter stride away and then later, once he's figured that out, we could start changing the distance between the poles to get him to shorten and lengthen his canter strides and make him more adjustable.

So, we did that both directions, then added the second pole and did that both directions and he was really good about picking up his feet over the poles (you should've seen when we introduced him to trot poles) though it was a little awkward going the second direction over them as his canter had gotten a bit fast and it was like, he got his front feet over the first pole, then realized he was too stretched out to make it without stepping on them, so his hind end shortened up and it was this really weird stride over them, but he made it! Anyway, we ended that exercise on a good note and after, Christina wanted me to just canter around in two point but while Kieran was plenty willing to do it, I just did not get the hang of getting up into two point after he began cantering (or asking for it from two point). I've lost what little two-point muscle I had! Oh noes!

Anyway, after that we dialed it down and Christina set up three cones in a line that I wove through forward, then she had me do it in reverse which is difficult because ideally, I want him to just weave through in reverse but really how it happens is I turn his head the direction I want his butt to end up and get him to go that way, pause, reorient, turn him the other way, pause, reorient...until we get through.

And then was a bit of work on sidepassing. Mostly...she had us facing with our back to the wall (he has a tendancy to back up when I ask for this as he doesn't really get it yet). Then she had me take my left rein and sort of bring it out and down toward my knee, keeping even pressure on my right rein and start bumping with my right leg. He didn't really get it, going that way. He'd back up, he'd go forward, he'd bulge his shoulder out to the right and go that way. Wasn't pretty. So we got straightened up and tried going toward the right (bring right hand toward knee, keep left rein steady, bump with left leg) and this he'd step over (crossing over and everything) almost immediately. So once he got that, we tried goingn to the left again and ended up rewarding him for a couple of "tries" that way where he stopped fighting me (and I guess maybe I was asking "better") and then ended the lesson.

So he's got a lot to think about now!

All in all, he was VERY VERY GOOD and I'm so very happy with him.

Going to try and ride tomorrow, not sure what we'll do yet. Sunday, GG is hosting a benefit show so I'll be helping out there and not riding. Might go trail riding with Christina on Monday (and she said we could start doing some of this stuff out on the trails too so that should be fun!) afternoon.

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