My regular lesson slot (for five years now!) is 7pm on Thursdays, so since the last two Thursdays were Christmas Eve and New Years' Eve, I have some makeup lessons coming.
I took my first one on Saturday afternoon, and it was awesome. I got on and could immediately tell my trainer had been on him lately - he was totally sensitive to my aids.
We did a couple of walk laps in shoulder in, and then picked up the trot. It was...lackluster. My trainer yelled from the opposite end of the arena, "Prepare for the corners by doing shoulder in ahead of time. More bend!" and finally a lightbulb went off in my head to complement the "how much thigh do you need for shoulder in" lightbulb that went off a few weeks ago: lots of thigh PLUS asking him to soften his jaw at the same time with the inside rein is MAGIC SAUCE. "Good! I don't ever want to see another corner with him falling out," my trainer said.
It was in a break after that that I asked a stupid question: "It takes SO MUCH inside thigh to get where we need to be in shoulder in right now, should I be wearing spurs to accentuate my leg?" The answer is "NO, spurs do not affect bend or spine, they only affect the hindquarters. No spurs." I know spurs don't affect the bend, but damn he is a thigh workout right now and it would be awesome if someone made a thigh spur. Time to start weaning him off of that big of a thigh aid, gradually.
|Gratuitous tail photo, sadly rubbed at the top by his blanket.|
We moved on to a new exercise, which was a spiral in/out on a 20m circle, but through the half pass. It is definitely not something I could have done without her constant guidance, but Connor loved it. He was concentrating so hard and really thinking about what we were asking, which caused my trainer to complement how in tuned to each other we've become lately. We've definitely moved to a new stage in our relationship, four years in.
|I turned him loose this night after our ride, and he spooked at that sprinkler every time we went by. Then what does he head straight for when I take his tack off? The thing that's been scaring him all night, to investigate it.|
You know that quote that's like "You can't grow unless you get pushed out of your comfort zone?" At the end, we were doing that spiral in/out half pass exercise at the trot, and Connor was giving it all he had. He was on the bit and on the brink - not past the brink, but he was where he wasn't sure he could do any more than he was doing. It was an awesome feeling to feel progress being made like that.