Monday 30 July 2018

It's Not Right

Cisco has mostly settled into his diet pen. He is surrounded by mares - he has two female roommates, and another two in the paddock next to him. He's used to mares - he spent the first five years of his life as the only boy on the property. He's smart enough to stay away from them when they're crabby, but should he be invited into their space, he's happy to turn on the charm.

Hence all the squealing over the fence on Sunday morning.
A common site in the Canadian prairies through the summer - golden fields of canola crops.
I managed to get each horse ridden only once last week. Cisco was ridden on Saturday, after he had a week off. We weren't too successful at getting any moments of "on the bit" work, but we had a couple of really good walk/trot transitions.

And then the rest of the ride was one of those green horse rides. The kind where you just can't do something.

That something - pick up the right lead.

We're still doing the kick and cluck transitions to get a canter, so there is little finesse. Up to this ride, I think he's picked up the correct lead all but once. But on this day, it just wasn't happening.

I changed up where I asked - into the corner, out of the corner, on the open part of the circle. Nope - Cisco picked up a nice balanced canter on the left lead each time.

I finally had to resort to my (almost) never fail method of picking up a sticky lead - ride straight  across the ring towards the wall, turn kind of last minute and ask for the canter at the same time. Sure enough, it did the trick!

I'm not going to stress about this happening for one ride. He naturally is right-sided, so I'm sure it's not a physical thing. Unless he's a bit out of whack from trying to stay away from his new crabby roommates.  Every horse I've ever ridden seems to have the odd day in the beginning where this is an issue, and making a big deal out of it will likely lead to other issues. He picked up a canter every time I asked - that is still progress!

We've got one more 30 degree day to get through, then it's supposed to cool off - just in time for another week of vacation!

Thursday 26 July 2018

I Realized Something

I finally managed to get back in the saddle on Wednesday. I've been feeling pretty crappy for the last couple of days (the contracting uterus type of crappy) but I was determined to get in a ride of some sort.

I decided that Phantom was going to get some exercise since she's the one who hasn't been ridden in two weeks. She was coughing a bit - because I haven't been out much she hasn't been getting any spirulina. Since I didn't have a ton of energy, we kind of matched.
I needed this view tonight.
Phantom got off easy. I had little expectations for her. For me though - I had stuff to work on. Keeping my hands lower. Thumbs on top. Elbows opening. Heels down. Not riding off my heel. And I just realized I forgot to think about turning my torso when going to the right, dammit.
I discovered after my ride that I forgot to put my spurs on. Totally didn't realize it until I went to take them off and they weren't there. 
I put my stirrups up a couple of holes to help me get some depth to my heels. I haven't ridden with a jumping length in probably a couple of years. And I discovered something.

I really miss riding in a jumping saddle.

I mean, I wasn't in a jump saddle, just jump length stirrups in my treeless dressage saddle (which isn't overly dressage-y). My leg felt super tight, I could canter in a balanced two-point, and it just felt like home. I miss that.
Riding in my new Pikeur Pepina breeches. Love the textured look!
Now I have more incentive to find a new jump saddle to fit Cisco this fall.

Hopefully, by the time I start looking, he will have gotten skinnier. Cisco moved to a diet pen today. His new roommates are both mares - we'll see how it goes. I wish there was a gelding for him to play with, so I'll keep my ears open in case a new potential buddy comes available. The girls just aren't as playful as the boys are.

We're in for another heat spell this weekend. I need to try to get in a couple more rides before I start melting again.

Tuesday 24 July 2018

No Pony Time

I've hit a busy patch at work and haven't managed to do much with the ponies for a few days. I was working super early mornings, then switched to late nights this week. My body has no concept of what time it is half of the time. It should only be one more night though, so I'm planning on getting back on tomorrow.

I managed one ride on Cisco after our wonderful lesson last week. I think he was trying a bit harder to evade having to actually work (that shit is hard y'all!), but we had a few really nice upwards transitions. It was super hot again, I was super sweaty, and the blister on my heel that I got during my lesson was getting rubbed again, so it wasn't a very long ride. I'm hoping that the blister will be mostly healed by the time I get going again.
I didn't want to get out of bed on Sunday either. 
Phantom has had like 10 days off. I hoped to get out on Friday night after a quick nap when I got home from work - I was off at 2pm so in theory I should have had lots of time. But on my way home I picked up some new wi-fi lightbulbs that I had to install (Amazon Prime Day purchase) so I laid down a bit later than I had planned. And about 20 minutes later a massive storm rolled in. So no sleep. Just exhaustion. Thus no riding.
This is how to tell that it's rained a bunch lately.
Since Thursday the only thing I've managed to do with the kids was let them loose on Sunday morning for a run in the arena. Phantom was very happy to do so. Cisco had some short-lived sass. That was it.
Sunday was a bit of a busy day. I was hoping I would crack 30,000 steps but didn't quite make it. These were all walking steps.
Expect a return to your regularly scheduled programming soon!

Wednesday 18 July 2018

Time to Work

On Tuesday evening I took my first lesson on Cisco. And it was fantastic!

I was admittedly not looking forward to this lesson all day. Not because of what I would have to work on, but because it was stinking hot out and I was going to have to ride during the heat. It was 30 celsius, and felt about 32. I melt in this type of heat. I wasn't sure how I would make out.
Blech. I shouldn't have to leave the air conditioner in this weather. 
I asked if we could ride inside just to stay out of the sun. It was definitely cooler inside than outside, but we were still a sweaty mess by the time we were finished.

We started off on a 20m circle asking him for flexion and to come a bit round at a walk. I've been working on this, so it went pretty well. A bit of ping-ponging from side to side if I changed the flexion on a circle, so I'll definitely have to work on that.

Then we picked up a trot. And Cisco became a bit of a giraffe. I was asked to make him rounder. I said, "ummm.... we don't do that yet".

So guess what the whole lesson was? Asking him to start to become round at a trot. Time to put him to work!

And he was super! Tons of moments of him dropping his head and neck, and even times when it happened with a half-halt on my outside rein. He had his thinking cap on for the whole ride, with his ears constantly swiveling back to me.
Sadly, no media from the ride - just a pic of a very sweaty pony pre-post ride shower.
I have to work on keeping my hands lower, stiller, thumbs on top, play with the inside rein, keep my elbows opening and closing, and my leg more forward. At best, I can get 2 things at a time. As soon as I think about a third I lose one of the things I was doing. So much thinking!

I am starting to think that maybe that Bombers Happy Tongue bit is a miracle bit. During the previous couple of rides I had moments that I thought were going the right direction. Tonight during the lesson I was able to create the moments.

This lesson was just what I wanted - a kick in the butt to start putting Cisco to work. I have the skills, I just need confirmation that it's okay to up my expectations of him.

(And I may have been told that he's too fat. I still think he's very well-sprung, but apparently, a fat roll gave him away. Turnout situation likely to change soon.)

Monday 16 July 2018

Great Intentions

You know those days when you wake up with great plans and ready to go for the day? That was my Sunday.

I have to get up all week at 5am for work, so I figured I would get up early and get a ride in before I taught a couple of lessons at 10am. The alarm went off at 7, and I was at the barn by 8:15.

Without my riding boots. D'oh!

I thought they were at home by the back door, but when I glanced there on my way out I didn't see them. So I figured they were in my car. They weren't. (They were at the back door.)

When I was young and fit and strong I would have just done my whole ride without stirrups in my running shoes. Now I'm old and fat - that ain't happening.
Phantom had her Appaloosa costume on.
So ponies got lunged, or some variation thereof.

Phantom got lunged. I was hoping to let her loose to get rid of those sillies she's had lately, but someone else was riding and I was running tight for time. So just took her over to the arena in her halter and snapped on the lunge line. And holy, did she ever give me a dirty look when I sent her out on a circle! It was very much a "I cannot believe you expect to me to go around you in a circle." look.

When I asked her to pick up a trot, she picked up the shuffliest, laziest trot in the world. For a whole 10 steps before she came back to walk, totally ignoring me in the middle of the circle. So I reeled her in a little closer and snapped the whip and growled at her and she picked up a super trot.

She obviously had to make sure her opinion about lunging was being heard.
The attitude was apparent before we lunged (I didn't notice the tongue stuck out until later)
After that she was fine, and lunged nice and forward on a big circle. I figured there would be an explosion at some point, which momentarily happened after she stumbled behind and then got mad, but otherwise Phantom behaved nicely. I quite like the way she is moving these days, she looks nice and loose in her body and very happy to move forward.

I haven't done anything with Cisco since last Monday. He doesn't free lunge very well as he wants to stay too close to me, so it's hard to get him to burn off some energy. So I thought I would set up a little jump again for him to go back and forth over. This time, I used a plank instead of a pole, just for something different.
Goober grabbed his halter from where it was resting on the mounting block.
He noticed it was different, and didn't want to go near it. Instead of trying to rush him towards it, I had him just walk over it both ways, after which he deemed it acceptable, and we were able to trot over it both directions.

Then I popped it up to the top of the standards (a whole 15" high) and sent Cisco towards it at a canter. And this is where I thought it got interesting.

The right is Cisco's preferred way of going. When loose he usually tries to stay this direction. Under saddle I don't notice a huge difference between left and right, other than he seems to prefer to bulge his right shoulder out.

Going to the right today, he stayed at a canter, popped over the little jump, did a smallish circle around me, and made a definite decision to go back to the jump, all with little incentive from me.

Then I turned him left. He avoided the jump the first time, rushed over it the second time, and then went and hid in the middle of the arena behind the jumps. I had to go down there, shush him out, get him set up from the corner again to approach the jump, which he would trot over, and then hide again.

Back to the right - another three perfect circles over the jump.

I have no idea what this means, other than that he's more comfortable on his right lead. Just something to keep in the back of my mind for the future.

I'm going to take a lesson on him on Tuesday evening. I don't know if I'll manage to ride on Monday - it's supposed to be 30 celsius out, which is sweltering for us northerners. A lesson after a week off isn't my preferred way of doing things, so we'll see what happens!

Saturday 14 July 2018

Energy To Burn

On Tuesday I tacked up Phantom for a ride outside. She was a bit silly in our lesson outside last week, so I was hoping to get her over it for my lesson this week.

Yeah, that didn't happen.

She started well in the outdoor arena, although her trot felt a bit pogo-sticky. But in a good pogo-stick way - kind of bouncing me high out of the saddle at a very forward posting trot. Her breathing was great and there was no coughing.

Then we picked up canter. And she was in that mood that once she's cantered, she can only canter. It's not a good canter either - it's a short, tight, erratic canter. Can't trot, sometimes can't walk, only canter.
From a video this winter. 

She's not fun to ride when she gets like this (which doesn't happen very often these days). It's what she does when she is feeling good, and it's just easier to get off, let her loose to play, and try again the next day.

Plus my girth needed to be tightened, and I didn't want to get off and back on to do it since there is no mounting block in the outdoor ring. I almost got it up a hole while mounted, but then she moved, and since the saddle is newish the holes are a bit tight so the pin just wouldn't slip into the hole.
Self-imposed rollkur through downward transitions.
I took her back to the barn and stripped Phantom's tack off. I was planning to sneak into the indoor arena to let her loose to play, but someone was just taking a horse in there to ride. So I took her over to the neighbour's place and used their round pen.
Ooh - look at that roundness!
I gave Phantom a second to walk around and gave a cluck. She moved into a very expressive trot (for her) and then picked up a canter. And kept cantering. I just stood in the middle and looked up at the birds in the sky while she cantered around me. Eventually she stopped, and I had her turn around, gave a cluck, and she was off again.

She's usually very lazy for this type of thing - she's not going to put in more effort than required. Not today! There was self-imposed rollkur, strike out's with front legs, and her version of a buck which is a hind leg towards her ear (don't ask). For the most part I sent her out and just stood still while she was silly around me.
The kick towards the ear. It looks as awkward as you think it does.
It was hot out so I ended it before she ended. There was still some sillies in there, but I hoped the worst of it was out of her system. Apparently she's also fitter than I thought she was as she wasn't overly puffy and recovered very quickly.
Jealousy from her neighbours while hand-grazing.
She hasn't had this much energy in quite a while, and I'm not sure why now. I've changed her feed over the last month - she now gets a pound of ration balancer instead of beet pulp and alfalfa pellets. She's getting the spirulina, which is a superfood and has lots of protein and amino acids. She's lost weight after moving to the diet pen, which is smaller than her previous turnout (but not that much). And I think she's just feeling good in her body these days, based on the way that she has been offering to go.
Cleanish tail. Needs another washing with the good shampoo to get that yellow out. 
I hate this extra energy. She's an Energizer Bunny at the best of times. When she's like this I just can't harness the energy in the right direction.

Guess I'm going to have to try to ride her more. I hate to complain that my 15 year old horse is feeling good!

Friday 13 July 2018

Long Neck, Wrong Direction

Since I'm on vacation again this week (5 weeks of paid vacation a year is awesome!) I planned to get up early on Monday morning to get the ponies ridden before it got too hot. Except that I went to bed too late the night before (because, vacation). So by the time I arrived at about 10:30 it was already hot and muggy. By which I mean a Northern Canadian's version of hot and muggy - 23 celsius, which felt like 26 celsius. In the sun though it felt much hotter.

Nonetheless, I decided to ride Cisco outside. Well, after we had a discussion about the fact that because the gate is opened it doesn't mean we get to run through it. A bunch of circles and halts were required before we could make our way outside.

Things started off well enough in the outdoor. Just as I was getting ready to trot, I noticed that the trailer that had driven up just after I got on was unloading 2 horses and they were heading towards one of the pens that run alongside the arena. Cisco noticed as well.

Instant distracted giraffe.

There were a few whinnies from the pens, so Cisco had to join in with his under his breath "eeeeeeee" whinny. New horses that I haven't met yet! I needs to meet them!

Keeping what seems to be the running theme going through many blogs this week, I was determined to get his focus back on to me. Back to lots of small circles and direction changes.

Finally I picked up the trot, which resulted in a Return of the Giraffe. I think this was the shortest and tallest his neck has been so far. He steered on a big circle okay, but the legs were flailing around underneath me.
Might be some training tips in here.
But only for about 3 circles. Then he settled in and relaxed. And I was able to have a pretty good ride.

He was still determined to look at the newbies - he was able to steer and stay bent to the inside, but his head was tipped outside as we went past them, putting his head and neck in a very awkward position. Oh well, can't expect instant perfection.

 There has been significant improvement with the dropping of the right shoulder over the last couple of rides. Last time I rode him outside we had to stay on a small circle to the right because he would drop the shoulder and barge forward as soon as I asked him to come off the track. On another ride I tried to ask for some baby shoulder-in at a walk that direction, and could not get anything as he just barged through my hand and inside leg. A couple of rides ago I stayed on a small circle while walking out at the end of the ride just trying to get him to stay soft through that turn off the track. We had to halt before we got on the track, then try to slowly walk forward around the circle. It took probably 12 or 13 circles before he got it. And then we had two back to back circles where we joined the track, kept the right bend and could continue along the track. He finally figured it out. And it seems to have stuck.

This ride, I tried the smaller circles in the exact same place that we had problems last time. And didn't have any issues. Super happy with that improvement.

The outdoor arena has an open gate area that is apparently magnetic, and Cisco has been getting sucked into it's magnetic field over the last few rides. So annoying. That was another thing that we had to kind of school. And again, it went from totally being sucked into the magnetic vortex, to totally being repelled, and then staying that way. Maybe his learning style might be of the not get it, not get it, totally get it, keep it, style. I'll tuck that bit of information into my brain.

Since the ride was going so well, I decided to tempt fate and attempt to hack on down to the neighbours barn by myself. The goal was to walk past the barn, with a stretch goal of going around the tree at the end of the drive. The only time we've been down there was when he had his nose up Vienna's butt on our trail ride a few weeks ago, so I don't know how much of the sites he saw from that position.

We got to the barn, at which point I stopped to chat with the barn owner. Cisco had to stand for the 10 minutes or so while we chatted, and he was quite good about it, while staring at the horses in the paddocks just ahead. I had planned on walking him down a bit further, but the barn owner wanted to drive past on the quad, and I didn't want to tempt fate that much, so I hopped off and led him back. Cisco did splat a bit when the quad started, so it might have been a good decision.

Pretty happy with how the ride went - lost his brain a bit, got it back, and had some improvement.

Tuesday 10 July 2018

cough cough

On Sunday I rode both of my ponies.

And they both had a cough.

Phantom has had a cough the last two or three summers that I think is an allergy issue. I was hoping the management changes that I've done so far this year (no round bale, feeding spirulina) were going to make a difference.

She has been pretty good right up until this day. We had one day about a week before that she coughed a few times, but then it went away again.

This weekend was hot, rainy, and windy. I wonder if the weather has set off the pollen count.

No idea what is up with Cisco. This is new.

One of Phantom's paddock mates is a gelding who has also had a bad cough the last few summers, again due to allergies. His leasor was getting ready to ride at the same time I was getting Phantom ready, and I asked her how his cough had been this year. She said it had not been a problem so far. Well, sure enough, during her ride he also was coughing a bunch. So something environmental is definitely a possiblity.

I picked up a bottle of Omega Alpha Respi-free. We'll see if it helps.

Monday 9 July 2018

Omg! A Lesson!

I had my first lesson in at least two years on Wednesday. There is a coach who has been coming to the barn since the winter and teaching a bunch of people. They all seem really happy with her. I haven't been able to commit to regular lessons so far mostly due to scheduling (she often flips her night during the week to a night that I usually work) but she is a school teacher by trade and has the summer off. I hope to be able to get a lesson in each week through the summer, then play it by ear from there.

I tacked Phantom up and was on about 15 minutes before my scheduled time. I should have known Phantom was in a weird mood when she put her foot up on the mounting block like she was going to stand on it like a podium. That mounting block is tall - well over the height of her knees. I screeched "nonononono!" at her, then burst out laughing when she brought her foot back down. I know she likes standing on the podium, but no idea why she offered it at that time.
Guess who was napping again? (No media from my ride so you get random pictures.)
I hopped on using the mounting block in the indoor arena, and since I left the gate open Phantom knew we were heading out. We headed over to the outdoor dressage ring with some unrequired perk in her step. Apparently I haven't ridden outside enough this year and it's still Super Exciting.

As I was heading out to the ring I noticed another horse from the family that had trailered in was getting tacked up. Ruh roh. Was she running late? Yep. I guess this kid has been off with an injury and the coach didn't realize that she was riding again. Normally it wouldn't be a major issue for me, but I was heading into work on my day off to do something and had to be there at a certain time. So I was slightly annoyed and worried.

So I decided to take Phantom for a walk down to the neighbour's place. That wasted 20 minutes. When I got back we had another 15 minutes before my lesson, so I puttered around the outside of the ring with some trot.

Finally it was my time. I got kitted up in the headset system that the coach uses - which is fantastic. It was the first time that I had ridden with one.
I discovered that the white marking on Cisco's lower lip is simply called "white on lower lip". I prefer the term "hippopotamus lips".

How did the lesson go? Well, for a first lesson, it was okay. I didn't hear anything new to me. She wanted my legs more forward (I had a feeling she would), more weight in my heels, thumbs on top, less nagging with my leg. All habits you tend to get into when you don't have anyone to yell at you to fix it on a regular basis.

She seemed to like Phantom - called her a good mover at one point. Hah!

The best part about my lesson?

She saw us at our worst.

I think it was a combination of a few things - overly perky pony on one of the first rides outside, we were in a 20m x 40m arena for the first time in a long time after being in a very large arena for the last year, she might be getting close to needing her teeth done (she'll let me know when I'm not allowed to touch her mouth), and of course, me having to ride a certain way instead of our normal pattern.

When we started off at a trot to the right, I got comments about how straight we were, and that she liked the slight shoulder fore positioning. It was a great shoulder fore. Except that I wasn't asking for it.

On a 20m circle at the end of the arena, I'd put a leg on to steer and she'd overreact and shoot in or out. I got stuck on a circle for a few minutes trying to make it round.
My poop picking posse.
I had expressed at the beginning of the ride that the short-term goal was to figure out how to get more contact in my right rein when tracking left. When on the left rein, I was trying to put her in a slight shoulder fore before the corner so that I could use my outside aids around the turn. But my stupid left hand doesn't want to give forward. And Phantom hates this. And she got pissy and did her not gonna turn left trick, which is tuck her head into her chest and bulge her shoulder out to the right. My correction had to be to thunk her with my right leg, and then she got super pissy, and that was when I was asked to canter. Which had much more expression than it needed to have.

After a bit of canter we were back to trot, and I was asked to lengthen the trot. I put my leg on and her head shot up in the air and she scooted forward. I rebalanced and tried again and she shot off into canter. Yoy.

I knew when I got on Phantom that she was a bit up, but it's been a while since she's felt like this that I forgot that she waits until we canter to express her enthusiasm. And once we've cantered, that's all she can do. Moar canter.

It doesn't bother me that I had a bad ride. If I'm paying for a lesson, I want to either learn something new, or how to deal with problems that we're having. If my ride is perfect I feel like I'm not being pushed enough. I mean, I don't want to have a bad ride every lesson, but it's nice to be pushed out of our comfort zone on occasion.

For homework I was asked to work on halting and standing immobile on contact. Phantom is the overachieving type of mare who thinks that everything should be a speed event. Halting and standing has never been a strength, though she usually does it better than we were doing it that day (I do work on it regularly).

Hopefully I will have a more agreeable horse on my next lesson so that we can work on something slightly more exciting than a 20m circle!

Wednesday 4 July 2018

Long Weekend Rides (part 2)

Cisco was ridden early on Sunday morning. So early, he hadn't gotten out of bed when I arrived. At 9am. Kids these days.
Everyone wants to sleep in on a long weekend.
He was a superstar for my morning ride. Since the arena was still empty, I decided it was going to be a day of leg yields. He has the idea of them, but they are in no way confirmed. He is still very much in the move off my leg when he feels like it phase, so I want to sharpen that up.

I was actually quite pleased with how well he did. For the most part I got sideways movement when I put my leg on. In the beginning he got a bit quick and strong, so I threw in a walk transition at the end, and that seemed to do the trick and let him realize that the leg didn't mean go fast.

Next I did one of my favourite exercises for green horses - a half circle reverse at each end with a circle at E or B. Lots of bending, changes of bend, and it always seems to help get a good rhythm.
Yes, your butt looks big.
It wasn't perfect - lots of bulging out and pushing his shoulders to the right when I started a right circle. But there were moments when he might have actually been settling into the contact for the first time! There was also lots of fussing and a very unsteady head, but his rhythm got very steady, and this was a different fussiness than usual. Kind of a forward and down fussiness, instead of either a giraffe neck or pulling the nose in.

So on Monday, I tried the same exercise in the hopes of reproducing the moments from the day before. Which of course didn't happen.
I'm going to miss the black forelock in a few years when it turns white.
Our leg yields weren't as good. Our steering on the circle was terrible. He just never settled into that rhythm like he did the day before. So we went off and did some canter.

Although he is very balanced at the canter (we did one turn that he shouldn't have been able to keep cantering through but he did!) he generally has more whoa than go. And we haven't done much of it yet so he's still worried about it. All I'm worried about at this time is forward. I also think he might be a bit weak in the stifle area, as he has stumbled behind a few times. I see lots of trot poles in our future!

I think that the new bit is making a difference. There have been moments that I think he might actually be settling into the contact, hopefully a few more rides will make a difference.

Tuesday 3 July 2018

Question for Equisense Bloggers

Let me start off by saying that working all day, then heading out to ride two horses and not getting home until 11 pm is not conducive to getting blog posts written up.

 For those who have an Equisense sensor - how accurate do you think the symmetry measures up on your rides?

I'm trying to figure it out. Phantom has been feeling great the last few rides, but the symmetry score is not telling the same story.
Most recent ride. Overall score of 6.5. I rode with my faux-Equicube for the first part of the ride.

Now, I do think that she is getting closer to needing her hocks injected. But the only signal of this that she is giving me is occasional crankiness when tightening the girth (her hocks show up in her back). And her toe did break up a bit before her shoe got replaced last week, so she might not be feeling 100% of that foot.

Sunday's stretchy ride. Overall score 7.1. Note the spikes.

When I ride I move her around laterally quite a bit. A lot of leg yields, lots of changes of direction, lots of trying to bring the shoulder in. Have you found that days where you do lots of lateral work results in lower symmetry scores?

One of our June rides in a hoof boot. Overall score 7.6.

And do you end up with high spikes through your ride?

Note the spikes. Overall score 7.3. This was about a week after an Ichon injection (Canadian version of Pentosan). The high was 9.5, and dropped down to a 4.8 a couple of minutes later.

Just trying to figure out what this data means. I really need to add notes after my rides as to what I did and how it felt. But it probably means that I have a lame horse!

Monday 2 July 2018

Long Weekend Rides (part 1)

Phantom finally had her missing shoe reset on Wednesday of last week, so I was able to put a couple of proper rides on her this weekend. And she was fantastic!

I arrived on Saturday to an arena that had been cleared out. Yay! No jumps in the way!

She felt great from the start. Walking super forward instead of a turtle walk. Her trot felt nice and even and was forward right at the beginning. She's 15 this year, and sometimes she starts out a bit shuffly, but not that night.

Since there were no jumps set up, I threw in a bunch of leg yields and shallow serpentines. We did some trot spirals with a transition to walk and back to trot on a volte. And then we did some canter with some counter canter turns. And through these exercises I realized I have a problem.
Phantom is not impressed with my riding. 
I don't have a connection with my right rein.

This isn't a new problem, but man, did it show up during this ride. My left hand does the classic hang on the rein, my right hand wants to give too much, and my right elbow wants to stick out.

Phantom has always been prone to wanting to pop her right shoulder out, so tracking left I have spent much time focusing on keeping her straight through turns. I can straighten her, and have a feel of the right rein, but cannot get left bend and keep the feeling in my right rein. So if I have left bend, everything is probably falling out to the right.
Phantom wishes I would get my shit together when I ride.


This totally affects all our lateral work. And based on this ride, left lead canter in general. It's better when I think about keeping my right elbow at my side. Except that I can't get off my stupid left rein at the same time.

I'm hoping to start some lessons this week through the summer months. I think I might see if I can make this issue a bit of a focus. I need to make some progress on it before I will be able to see any real improvement with the lateral work, plus I don't want to end up with the same problem on Cisco, who already wants to bulge out through his right shoulder.
Phantom knows that her center part bangs make her look like a dork.
Sunday's ride was a nice stretchy ride for Phantom. The trot felt great. Canter - well, it's going to take some work to get a decent stretch. She's built very level, so it doesn't take much for her to fall on her forehand. Stretching down and poking her nose out and not falling on her face and rushing takes some strength on her part. And some figuring out what the hell to do with my body on my part. We'll work on this over the summer.
Probably our best canter regularity and trot elevation scores so far. 

So it was two great rides from Phantom.  Hopefully the lesson works out for Wednesday!