So we changed things up this week and had our lesson on Monday rather than wait until the end of the week. Why not right? Sometimes changing your schedule or the way you do things helps to give a fresh perspective on things. And speaking of fresh, the boy was definitely feeling a bit fresh today. He must like the change in the weather, but who can blame him. It was 71 degrees with low humidity and NO buzzing terrorists in sight. Maybe it was his way of celebrating their departure. Not sure if they are gone for good, but the cooler temperatures should send them packing soon.
We started the lesson with the walk – a very underappreciated gait in my humble opinion. Not very glamorous, but if you can’t establish a connection while walking, you might as well throw in the towel at the trot and canter. Ike does hear half halts, he just choses to ignore them some days. Ike’s freshness today translated into “la la la, I can’t hear your half halts,” so we opened the lines of communication while walking. I half halt and nothing happens, so I HALF HALT and Ike halts. I feel like Goldilocks, too much, too little, just right. I just need to learn that just right feeling and Ike needs to pay attention when I ask. So much work to do on such small details.
Moving on to trot, Ms. C had us establish a forward, rhythmic trot about 4 feet off the rail. Ugh, that means I can’t cheat and have the rail “help” keep us straight and between both reins…sigh, Ike and I have to do all the work. Well I am pleased to report that we succeeded in the stay straight department, but were less than stellar with our throughness and connection. Ms. C called us out immediately. “Where was your half halt there?” Fudge. Nothing gets past her keen eye. She is right though. So I listen intently as she calls out what to do and pray that my body cooperates and does what it asked. By the end of the lesson, Ike and I were pushing for a very forward trot on the long sides, I’d half halt and we’d slow down the trot on the short ends, and push-off again down the next long side for a trot that could grab us an 8. Ah, that is what a good half halt can do. All well and good, but the trick is to re-establish that feeling on my own and then in the ring as we head down centerline.
We also worked on the trot loops and canter patterns for Training Test 3. Um, ah, um, yeah. We have a lot of work to do before October 7th. The loops should flow, but we are a bit too herky-jerky (think of Elaine dancing on Seinfeld). Screech, we are at X and need to get back to the rail…too much with my hands. Our canter needed half halts that were too numerous to count. We attempted the turn onto the long diagonal and trot at X. The turn was better than yesterday; the down transition started at the quarterline and might have happened in the vicinity of X. I had to work for that one since Ike was just as fresh when it came time to canter as he was when we started. Our right lead canter was more like Marmaduke running with the landscape a blur. Half halts were not even half heard. “Say what? But look how fast I can run.” After some time on a trot circle, I whispered canter. It was still fast, but at least Ike heard me when I’d half halt with my outside rein.
It is going to be an interesting fall and winter if Ike’s freshness blossoms.
Coaches never seem to miss anything! And good luck with the Training Level 3 test, I did it during the summer and it wasn’t too bad. It’s tough to get those loops flowing nicely, and the transition at X was a little shady for us… Our idea of X tends to float around 5 feet from actual X! I’ll be thinking of you on October 7!
It is reassuring to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with the transition at X!