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Thursday, October 21, 2010

It Doesn't Always Start Well...

I had a lesson yesterday with Ryan Yap. I usually try to get on early and at least start my warm-up before he gets there, but I wasn't able to. I began the warm-up and was getting frustrated because Fire has started with "thing" where he warms up with his head up in the air like a pig. I can't force him into any sort of frame because then our entire ride is just crap. So I asked Ryan if this "cow frame" was acceptable for warm up, and he said that it was, that it might be a phase and that some horses just warm up like that. So, I accepted it and moved on.

After that bump in the road we went on to have a good ride. I relaxed and so did Fire. We worked on shortening and lengthening his stride to get him to really sit down into his transitions. In the past, Fire has gotten very upset while doing things like this, but took it like a star and didn't act up at all. The exercise was to ride in a circle and ride one 1/2 on a long strided posting trot, and then the other 1/2 was a short strided sitting trot, keeping the same rhythm. Many times Fire came above the bit when shortening his stride, but as long as he did not curl, this was okay and I just kept him in the short stride until he gave in the neck to then let him out in the longer stride. This really helped to engage his hind end in the trot and made him very active.

The canter work was next, where we worked on picking up the canter from the walk. The first transition was generally crap because Fire wasn't necessarily paying attention. I find it helpful to speak to the horse and tell him "canter" before the transition at this point so he is ready for what I want and has an upward and correct transition during this training period. Once we began working that way, they improved greatly and were followed by a lot of praise.

We quickly moved into asking for a counter canter, which admittedly, we were not ready for. If you're not ready for something, then don't do it! We did an extra circle and came back around to try again for the shallow serpentine that we had been asked to execute. At this point we had better balance and it was performed without hesitation and with good jump and balance. So then we moved to a harder counter canter: across the short diagonal and then around the short side and across the short diagonal again back to correct lead again. Since we had been practicing three loop serpentines going from correct lead to counter canter, this was not difficult for Fire to do, and he stayed very well balanced and did not try to run or break. I could tell that Ryan was pleasantly surprised, and moved onto the next move, mini half passes.I do have to admit, that one surprised me! I didn't think that Fire was ready for me to ask him to move in the way a mini half pass would have him move in the canter, but he surprised me and seemed to move very well, and all the way from the wall to the centerline. What a champ he is sometimes!

After the lesson Fire was very tired and earned his vetroline bath and time out eating in the pasture. My butt and stomach are super sore today from all the work my muscles got in yesterday, and I can't wait to see what is is store for us next time. I can really see good marked improvements. And it was nice to hear Ryan say that he was very impressed with our progress since we're alone and I don't have him to help me often. A very nice thing to say I think.

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