Thursday, 27 June 2019

By Jove, I Think He's Got It!

Remember how a few weeks ago I said that we've had one of the driest springs on record and really needed some rain?

Apparently, Mother Nature heard me and took my request seriously. I think it's rained every day for the last two weeks. We can be done now, ok?

I've been timing things really well. I keep finishing up outside, head inside, and it starts raining. I haven't gotten too wet yet.

Such was the case on Tuesday. When I arrived at the barn, there was an ominous cloud with thunder and lightning. I rushed to get Phantom fed outside (I was planning on riding her second) and hopefully get Cisco inside while he was still dry. I went out to Phantom's pen, came around the corner of the barn, and saw her drop down to roll. In the very damp dirt.
This was the cleaner side.
That confirmed my decision to ride her second!

I got Cisco, who was perfectly clean, into the barn just before the rain started. He seemed a little bit different on this night. There was a quiet calm about him, which there usually isn't. He's been better as of late about parking with his hip cocked, which is an improvement over the last year, but on this occasion, he just seemed content and relaxed. It was very zen to be grooming my horse, alone in the barn, with the sound of rain falling on the metal roof.  
Pony selfies with the sound of rain over our heads.
His calmness carried over to the arena. He was forward at a walk, and I really felt the difference when we picked up the trot. As per normal, his trot at the beginning of the ride was forward, but it just felt different. A good different. Steady, rhythmic, taking me forward.

And - he remembered the end of the last ride. Even during the warmup, he was giving me moments of dropping forward and down into the contact. It got better and better through the ride, especially after the canter. We were getting moments of 6 or 7 steps at a time of a steady connection, and when we lost it I could get it back again. I spent a lot of time on a figure 8 shape with lots of bending, and I finished the ride when Cisco came through the center, bent the new direction, and stayed in a lovely relaxed frame through all of it. He's getting it figured out!

No media to prove it of course. I was going to set the video camera up on a Gorilla Pod in the arena, but it was raining when I went over and I didn't want to deal with carrying everything and trying not to get it wet. I'm going to try again this weekend - hopefully it looks as good as it feels!
This looks like a post ride tired pony picture, bt it was actually a pre-ride relaxed pony picture.
We had some other really good moments during this ride. Good leg yields at a trot on the tougher side, and there was a great moment when he really moved into a corner when I put my inside leg on. He picked up the left lead canter right away, and actually cantered instead of trantered. Getting the right lead seems to be our problem these days, which is mostly due to him dropping his right shoulder. If I get the set up right the lead is easy.

The last two rides have probably been helped by the fact that there have been other horses in the arena. He's been better lately by himself, but he's still usually not as relaxed as when there are buddies. I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't warm up as well by himself, but hopefully we'll be able to get it after the canter.

Short term goals to work on over the next few rides:

  • continue to work on getting a forward and down frame at a trot
  • more steering at a canter - might have to pull jumps down so that I can avoid the wet areas, which doesn't necessarily go over well, but I'll figure something out
  • more canter transitions so that they get more consistent
  • continue to work on the leg yields at trot
  • continue to ask for flexion on a straight line 
  • figure out an exercise to help with our steering into the corners at the canter instead of dropping the shoulder and diving to the inside (willing to take suggestions - I'm hoping that sharpening up the leg yields will pay off here)
  • start cantering over poles
  • and hopefully manage to try jumping again - and stay on this time!

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