So I realized I haven’t doing a riding update in ages. I think it’s because I feel like we do the same stuff, and it’s probably boring for my readers. Drop a comment if you want, I’d love to know if you like post like this or prefer to skip them!
Coming off our show last month, I have been having some truly productive rides. Sometimes I really feel like I need a horse show to re-ground us. Shows are so great for exposing any flaws in your training, as well as showing off what you are really doing right. I find them to be a great measuring stick at times to help me review where Rio and I are at in our training. So how has our training measured up?
I definitely feel like we are on the right track! A lot of things went right at the show. All the boring-ass caveletti work for example has really helped to improve Rio’s strength, which I think has resulted in better form over fences. All the times I felt annoyed when the lines at home were set a bit short certainly paid off when the horse show lines flowed easily. Even though I still have some work to do in this area since I accidentally turned a 6 stride into a 5! We got all of our lead changes except for 2 at the show, but I think this might say more about the pro rides that Rio gets at home then me personally, as I still struggle with them and don’t school then a ton at home. That is ok with me though, it just means that Rio is getting the idea and it gives me a goal to get stronger in this area in the future.
I have been thinking about areas that I need to work on as well. We had some issues drifting to the outside during our lines. This is certainly something I need to be more vigilant with at home. Not only does the drift effect his jumping style, it also sets a very poor foundation for a clean lead change. I have been trying to be hyper vigilant about straightness during my hacks lately. I know from my past dressage experience that it can be very easy to FEEL like your horse is straight even when they aren’t.
In an effort to combat this I have been doing little ‘self-checks’, predominately by frequently changing his bend. When Rio is truly straight I feel like I can smoothly transition through a few steps of inside bend, then straighten, then outside bend and so forth. If the outside bend feels like a huge effort, then I know he wasn’t straight to start off with. Once I have changed his bend a few times and really focused on being mindful of straightness I can feel a big differences in his trot. It will feel like his motor is going all of the sudden and he is taking me forward, versus me pushing him.
After the changes of bend exercise I sometimes up the ante by finding a straight line up the long side of the arena and leg yielding back and forth. We will go right for 3-4 steps, straighten, then go left 3-4 steps. This is a super exercise for straightness, and well as helping to supple and strengthen the hind end. If I am feeling REALLY ambitious I will do this at the canter as well, although usually only a step or 2 in each direction.
Our canter work lately hasn’t been super. I can’t decide, it sort of feels like we are at a “tipping point”. Like, it feels semi-rough but maybe it’s on the verge of getting a lot better? Or it’s just rough. HAH! I swear I can’t always tell. I feel like I have been putting a bit more pressure on him in the canter, insisting on better quality. He seems to be handling it well, but the added pressure gets him a bit “up”. I am hoping it’s just because it’s new and he is anxious, and will settle once we both get used to the requirement for a better canter. Does that make sense? I honestly don’t know haha.
Anyway, time will tell. I don’t have any big shows plans this summer (too hot) so we have lots of time to see how things progress.