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Thursday, August 26, 2010


Today we had a great ride that was mostly compromised of gymnastics. Fire started our ride not wanting to connect and be through today. Granted, I hadn't been out there for a while and he had a good 4 days off with no instruction. So, when you're given a lemony horse, one has to be able to make something of it, right? Right.

So to get him connected and thinking in the correct frame of body, and frame of mind we began with some big 3 loop serpentines, and then worked into some good leg yields from the center line. Once I started asking him for the leg yields, it was like he knew what I wanted from him and began working correctly from back to front and into my hands. We were then ready to work into the gymnastic part of the ride. Since Fire had started so evasive, I wanted him to understand that the reins go all over the place, but the constant is that I need him to keep searching out for the contact without getting upset (he tends to get frustrated with this concept). So we began in the trot because this is what is easier for him and what he is most familiar with. I'd ask him to come up into the frame for one 20m circle, and then ask him to stretch down and out for a BIG 20-25m circle and then back up into the collected frame. Once in the collected frame we would go straight down the 1/2 of the long side, then around the short side, and then I'd ask him for a medium trot down the long side. After that I would ask him to collect up while going back into our 20m circle, and once he collected from the medium, I would begin again into the bigger 20-25m stretchy trot. I noticed that with this gymnastic movement up, down, up, and out he began to carry himself very surely and correctly.

After the trot work I actually did some canter work. Fire really HATES walk work, so I decided to do it last. In the canter we worked a similar up, down and out. In this he is not very good at bringing himself out and just wants to go down. He's not on the forehand, but likes to keep his head down when he runs, even while in turn out. I'm sure in further training I'll just find a way to reward him when he does bring his nose out here or there.

The final work was done at the walk. What use to happen, and if you read through this blog you'll see, that Fire likes to rear and gets very upset while doing walk work. So, I knew there would be some tension while I was trying to work him in this gait. So, I slowly was asking him to walk forward and marching, while having a loose rein and then having short spurts where we did collection. He did not throw a "Fire" tantrum, so that was progress. I increased the amount of time I kept him in the collected frame and by the end of the ride could get him about 1/2 around the ring before letting him back down into a looser rein walk. The only protest he showed was grinding his teeth on the bit. Though nasty, that's much better than what I've run into in the past.

I think this was a good ride that showed how far he's come in his ability to shorten and lengthen his body properly when I ask. It's a very important step in the training process and sometimes can get lost while one is thinking "collection collection collection". I'm sure while we continue to keep work like this strong, our lengthening trots will come very easy when I eventually ask for them in full force. Fire has an extremely free shoulder (see: "Fire likes to Spanish walk when he's pissed) so I'm sure he'll have magnificent movement in the extensions.

Bonus: another fellow boarder mentioned how Fire looks to be losing weight! Finally he's starting to lose his giant white belly some! Maybe he noticed that I was losing some, so he thought he'd try to as well.

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