Saturday, February 6, 2016

Harmonious Rides

As you have read, this ridiculous snow has forced us to either haul out to ride or not ride at all...which with work being as rough as it has been, having the time to haul out hasnt been there. BUT rather then teach Sunday like normal, I couldnt with our rings being frozen so I had another free of course I make a point to haul to an indoor to ride.

so pretty
Tillie was an absolute star...I did some warm up in the walk just letting her free walk on a loose rein for a few minutes. I am still really aware of this head wag thing so my goal for todays ride was to see if she did it and if it was P's theory of not being through my goal was ride her forward thinking and see what I get.

Before I continue, the notion of getting a horse through or on the bit or in a frame...all those key phrases you always taught right the back end not the head. So yes, I should be riding more forward thinking always, but if you have been following my posts you know how hot my horse gets. The tricky thing about hot horses...when they get forward but are behind your leg so not really accepting the contact. THIS is what I mean by getting Tillie forward thinking...more accepting of my leg without being rushing forward but maintaining a rhythm and willing to seek the contact.

Bright eyed and ready to work

Today, I took dressage trainer C's advice and put her together in the walk before trotting. She was wonderful and remembered how to turn off my seat and bend with the use of my inside leg while keeping a nice marching walk. So without expecting anything other then a willing transition into trot I tried use the quick leg aid like the windshield wiper and she did a nice little spring into a trot. She settled into a nice rhythm and I only wanted rhythm and tempo to maintain at this point...after a few laps in each direction she naturally started seeking the contact on her own. AND NO HEAD WAGGING! 

I noticed tracking left she will tend to get forward more since she gets off balance more easily...while going right shell back off and I shockingly found myself using my driving aids to promote a bigger step. I am starting to think the head wag comes from my tension when she feels unbalanced...

I let her have a walk break keeping in mind we havent been in consistent work before picking her up again and boy was she in work mode. Normally shell start pulling and diving, testing the contact at the walk after I let her stretch...but she was quiet and our trot transition was spot on and connected. 

So we did our homework from a few weeks ago of lengthening and shortening the stride...lengthening on a smaller circle to prevent building or excitement and then shortening on a larger circle. She did it shockingly really well so I went ahead and tested them across our diagonals. 

They may not have been text book correct or pretty, but boy was riding that line fun. You could feel Tillie playing and testing her balance and get close to teetering into canter and re-balance with a small lift of my reins. 

She say oh yea thats fun!

Whats harder for her on these is coming back and restraining herself...which she surprised me again and was willing to come right back to a working trot. 

So after some laughs with my barnmate that hauled with us (she also tried these but on her green and very uncoordinated baby) We moved into leg yielding into canter transitions which my hopes would help a two things: 1) get our leg yields straighter through the body and not lead with the shoulder...and be soft / relaxing into it 2) improve the canter transition which would improve the balance of our canter. 

That sounds hard

It is a great exercise C has had us do a few months ago...and with Tillies left lead being much weaker and being unbalanced decided it would be a good thing to do. 

Tillie did the leg yields only first like a champ and was pretty darn willing to move her butt over when I asked her to keep it in line. So I went ahead and started on the harder lead first and the first canter transition into the left lead was slightly muddled but definitely not as bad as it was before the snow storm. So a few laps in left lead canter I was going to inside leg on and off to get her inside hind "jumping" and could hear C in my head saying "pop! pop!!" and got a pretty nice canter that didnt feel like our dressage lesson where it was on the verge of diving into the ground.

By the 3rd transition, it was spot on. Right lead canter was nice and I worked on getting more canter without getting flat. Its hard for me to think about adding more leg to get uphill when it feels fast, BUT this ride was nice because she felt in a good rhythm that I could push for more. 

After that we called it a day and ended with being a good quiet adult horse and gave a lead over a x-rail to the green bean and Tillie was such a good girl for that too! A few mere months ago that would have sent her exploding!

Now just to get in more riding time!


  1. Sounds like things are going really well! :D Hopefully the snow clears up and you can ride at your home barn soon.

    1. Thanks! Except more snow is coming tonight :(

  2. ugh the 'forward but behind the leg' thing is so tricky, and it took me forever to even realize that's what happens with us too... seems like you and tillie are really figuring it out tho!

    1. it really is the hardest thing to grasp...I have had Tillie now for almost 3 years and its only just now clicked that forward but behind the leg is possible and what it feels like. I am still not 100% on fixing it every time, but the episodes are happening less and less at least!

  3. That 'forward but behind the leg' or 'tensing and prancing on the spot at the thought of a leg' seems to be the bane of my existence...

    1. Its so hard to fix! You need to add leg to fix it but usually that only send the already forward horse forward and so the seat needs to slow them down...well when you have a green horse that isnt responsive to the seat yet thats really hard to "fix"