For the past three weeks Sarah has been enjoying sunny California with her students who are able to afford (financially and time off wise) to go and have a serious boot camp to get ready for the upcoming season. While I’ve done the spring California trip once (and got rained out of the event I had entered) it was definitely not on my radar this year with June.
Which meant we had three weeks without lessons and three weeks to figure crap out on our own.
And honestly, it went pretty well. While I am fully prepared for Sarah to come back and have a LOT of feedback in our first lesson, I really tried to work hard, enjoy myself, and experiment with some things while she was gone.
Here’s what we accomplished and worked on for the past three weeks:
- We went to two shows without Sarah! That’s huge for me. I typically go everywhere with a trainer, so not doing so, AND doing it with a green horse, was huge for me. And, we had successful outings, which was really a confidence booster for this upcoming season
- We’ve added trot/canter sets to our weekly routine. This is not for June’s fitness (although it is certainly helping mine), as she could trot and canter in circles for hours if I let her. It’s mostly because I want to just let her have some mindless work. Mare needs to burn off some energy and not get tense about every ride and the work we’re doing. I’m mixed on how this is working out. I think June really enjoys it, which is GREAT. But it’s also getting her fitter, which, while I love that she has lost some lbs recently, I don’t need her getting fitter. I think she needs to build muscle and strength but not stamina right now. She could literally trot for a full hour without me encouraging her. And that leads to her grabbing the bit and wanting to go, which is certainly what I am trying to stop from happening. So, I may change these up a little bit. Some fun for her mixed with some slower, deeper, trotting.
- Transitions. June tends to hollow her back and throw her head up (it looks like an elk, for any of you who also have elk in your backyards…) when I ask for the walk transition. So, I’ve been playing with a few things. Trotting slower and slower and slower until we walk. That works! But then, when I try to progress from that, she trots for a REALLY long time before the walk. So, maybe I am asking her to get this too quickly, but at some point I need to be able to ask for a trot to walk transition and not have her hollow. I’ve played with closing my leg, slowing my trot posting and sitting. If that gets nothing, I sit deeper and stop following with my elbows. This is working, albeit painfully slowly. I’m eager to get Sarah’s take on it and some help.
- The free walk. June LOVES to pull the reins out of my hand and bring her head down to her feet as she walks. YAY. Plus, she has a great overstep and for the first time in my life my dressage comments for the free walk said “Good overstep” instead of “lacks overstep.” But she isn’t consistent at all. Her head goes here there and everywhere. And she constantly tries to pull the reins out of my hands no matter how much rein I give her. So, I’m working on keeping the reins shorter, more leg and slowly letting out the contact. Again, a work in progress but it has been fun to play with.
- The canter. Our left lead canter is really getting somewhere! I can ask for more collection, and am working on her bringing her head up, again, not letting her grab and go. The right lead has made huge strides as well (ha ha fun pun) but she can’t keep it for as long and by the time we’re approaching our 2nd or 3rd 20 meter circle, right when we come off of the rail, she swaps. So, I’ve been working on getting her past that point in the circle, even if it’s our first 20m circle, and asking for a downward where she doesn’t swap leads. We got it last night and I was happy to be able to end our ride on that. I think this will just be slow and steady progress.
- Pole work. Just staying consistent in the rhythm to the poles, over the poles and after the poles. In both the trot and canter. I’ve been really pleased with how she’s doing. We’ll see what happens when the poles become jumps, but she is far more adjustable than she was a month ago.
I think all in all, I’m really just learning about June as a horse. I trust her so much more than I used to. I can hop on without lunging. I can work through the antics. It wasn’t that long ago that I was unable to ride the canter and Sarah had to say “Ride the canter like you know how to ride. Not like a passenger.” Now, I actually ask for things in the canter and expect things from her. She wants to kick out in a dressage test? Fine. But we’re going right back to the canter. Ok, not really fine to kick out, but you know what I mean…
Anyway, as excited as I am to get back to lessons and have Sarah back, I’ve actually really enjoyed these last 3 weeks and feel like it was really good for both June and I.