New goal: one arena/round-pen session weekly!
Hannah had some excellent suggestions after my last post, namely going back to dressage basics to make Fetti more rideable. That is, after all, what all my problems come from – not just the excessive forwards, but also the lack of forwards, comes from a lack of responsiveness and commitment to listen to the aids.
Pony is not a fancy dressage horse. I don’t know how to consciously ask for things with my seat. We spend a third of our casual rides on a loose rein letting her figure things out. However, I need to have that ‘override’ ability when we disagree, and that’s lacking in effectiveness right now.
Last Tuesday, we worked in the round pen on transitions. Trot-canter, canter-trot, asking for promptness and consistency. End result: clearly, we need some work. Walk-trot is fine, trot-walk is fine but we lose our impulsion at the walk (also true on the trail). Trot-canter is inconsistent and I’m inclined to blame my position. If I’m not sitting right, she won’t give it to me. Trot-canter also resulted in her offering a canter when I was not asking for it, which I promptly brought back down.. repeatedly. Canter-trot is fine in the round pen.
Thursday was a short, brisk ride where I focused on leg yields and responsiveness to transitions.
Saturday was a moderately short ride in the evening. One set of deer antlers, one rabbit, one deer, a gorgeous full moon, and a fully-lit holiday train. We ride under the trestle in one spot on the trail. Fetti was in front – it was dark, we lead the way home – and I heard a weird generator noise, happened to see lights in the distance, and promptly leaped off the horse, probably setting my shoulder back a week. Oops! My riding partner was baffled until I finally got my words together enough for “TRAIN!” and parked the pony behind her mother. To Confetti’s credit, she clearly wanted to bolt but never pulled the reins to run. Pony has excellent ground manners. She circled several times, I let the circles take us slightly away as long as she ended facing towards them, and everyone survived. Can’t complain too much there.
Sunday we went out with our Fjord friend in the morning, albeit not nearly as quickly as I’d hoped. It was a decent trotting pace on the way out, but then I chickened out with the wind and heading home, so I hiked the next three miles and got on for the last half-mile or so, just walking. I know I should ride her through it and face the fears.. but I know she picks up on the Fjord’s energy and that still scares me going home. I can’t afford to come off again (yet).
Sunday ride #2: turned around almost immediately upon arriving to the barn and went out with the other Haffies for another six miles! Moderate pace, trotted out and back since I could keep Fetti in back.
It, then, should not have surprised me that I had a lot of horse yesterday evening. The plan was to get a short trail ride in and then a short arena or round pen session after. Seventeen minutes and two miles later, I was pretty well out of sunlight. Trot/canter transitions on the way out, big endurance motoring trot on the way home. I love the feeling of her really engaging behind and dropping her head to move out, even as it is exactly that feeling that terrifies me with another horse because I’m not entirely in control of how fast we’re going. 8-10mph trot, yikes! There is so much potential with this horse that I cannot touch yet because I can’t just push that ‘forwards’ button and find her extra gears when I want them.
Lesson tomorrow, so hopefully some of our issues can get addressed and the fear can be mostly-conquered.