Friday, August 3, 2012

Letting go and Transitions

So tonight we actually shared our lesson with another boarder, but that was nice to have someone else in the ring to keep things interesting. Plus, a big part of the lesson (we did all flatwork tonight, Kieran was visibly disappointed there were no jumps) was using my seat and legs to communicate with Kieran and not so much with my hands (we had to really loosen up on the reins and only use them very lightly) to make transitions and turns. So you know, when he wanted to follow chasing after the other horse and I was like, "noooo, we're doing a halt transition now" that made for a good teaching moment. ;)

Anyway, both of us were warmed up by the time Jessica got there (she was running late) so we got started right away. She set up the trot poles like you see below (and the circles represent cones, though my drawing isn't to scale) but we didn't use them quite yet. The idea was that we would, indeed, do a posting trot around the ring and do trot->halt transitions. So I had to sit really deep to ask for the halt and try not to really pull back with the reins at all. The first few times, he slowed down pretty quickly, but we'd get half a dozen walk steps before he'd fully stop. But as we continued, the walk steps got less and less until he was halting pretty quickly and giving me nice ones to boot. Not perfect, but acceptable, and you could tell he was thinking about what we were asking him to do and trying to figure it out. Jessica mentioned to me that when I went to ask him to stop, I tended to stick my legs forward and my leg would come off of him and I should think about sinking my weight straight down and pushing on his withers (so to speak) and think of my legs coming back instead. I think my problem there is because I was really thinking about sitting back on my proverbial seat pockets and leaning too far back and pushing my feet forward to compensate. So once I started sitting more straight down, our halts improved.

After that, she had us do transitions within the trot so we would stretch out on the long sides and then kind of collect up on the short sides. Kieran figured this out really quickly.

And then we used the trot poles and cones for weird sort of figure eights. Jessica had the other boarder using the diagonally set up poles on the right and had me using the ones along the rail on the left. Anyway, the idea was to trot over the poles, then turn toward the cone nearest us, go inside it (inside being closest to the poles, not closest to the inside of the ring), turn a circle around it, then come around and do the poles from the other side. I drew a blue line to make it make more sense. Still, the idea was to use our legs and seat for turning. Kieran was pretty phenomenal here, really.

After this, Jessica spread out the distance for the poles on the right to make them canter poles. The ones on the left stayed trot poles. Here, the idea was to go over the canter poles, come around between the cones, then between the last two poles (parallel with them), then make a right turn (simple change) around toward the trot poles and somewhere before them, start trotting over them and go straight down to the fence at the top of the ring. I drew lines again to make it make sense.

So here we had to combine the transitions with the changes of direction and basically everything we'd worked on for the lesson. We went through first and then Jessica had us say one thing we did really well and one thing we didn't do so well. The first time, Kieran gave me a really lovely simple change in the corner but I waited too long to ask for the trot transition before the poles and it wasn't really pretty there.

So then, she told the other boarder to take what we said and you know, do it herself with that knowledge. Once she was done, she stated what her one good thing and one bad thing were and then it was our turn again.

We did much better this time with the trot transition but the simple change in the corner was a bit wonkyslow. Jessica mentioned after we were done that it was actually a really good thing because what happened was she said she could see Kieran when I sat to ask for the transition sort of prepare himself to give me a flying lead change there. Then I asked for the simple change and it took him a second to catch up. But anyway, he did really really well and I'm really proud of him.

I can't wait for our lesson on Sunday. :)

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