Well here we are. It is Friday night and I’m finally sitting down to fill you in on our week. Ike and I had a pretty sane week. We abandoned leg yields, half pass, and counter canter and refocused on our Training Level needs. Last time I checked, there were no lateral movements in any of the Training Level tests. That is not to say that we haven’t thrown in a sideways step or two trying to escape the corners at the judge’s end of the arena, but we get no extra credit for that. Judge’s just aren’t impressed. In fact, we often hear “too much use of outside rein.” Well, duh, when Baby Huey decides to throw his full weight against my inside leg, there is no way that my thigh will prevent him from going wherever he decides we need to be. The outside rein is all I have left – no, it is not ideal and thank you for pointing that out in my test comments.
The show this Sunday is one of my last chances to qualify for the regionals in October. It feels like the test right before spring break with the regionals being our final exam. So doing what every good college student does, we crammed for our test at the last minute hoping for all the knowledge to transfer from Ms. C’s lessons and carry us to a qualifying score on Sunday. We did two lessons in two days.
Yesterday we worked the basics. Can Alison find a good rhythm and tempo at the walk, trot and canter? Answer: sometimes. I still have the tendency to overuse my reins and Ike ends up behind vertical. Maybe it is his long neck, maybe it is me just having a hard time trusting that I can send my hands forward to get Ike to open up at the throatlatch. We can thank Cigar for that tendency; you just never knew what might happen if you gave Cigar an inch. Give him an inch and you could end up in the next ring in record time.
Our canter is still a work in progress. How we handle the canter depends on what canter Ike gives me. If we are careening around in freight train mode, I just try to be heard and pray that our down transition is close to where it is supposed to be. If Ike decides to show off his rocking horse, moving up to First Level canter, then I can finesse a bit more and position shoulders and even get the correct flexion.
Today we practiced our tests. We have rediscovered our centerlines and square halts. We need those points and why not start and end with an 8 on your score sheet? Would love to get another 9.5 on a final halt…that is one test that I will save since that score might not ever be seen again. Overall Ms. C was pleased with our tests. I still need to keep my upper body back in the canter (shhh, don’t tell anyone, but it feels like I’m sitting tall when I’m astride, but unfortunately pictures give that secret away). Ike canter work was a mixed bag. His right lead today was a bit strong. To counteract what was happening, I would ask for canter, but then ask for a halt just after we started our circle, then at another place on the circle, and then right after we returned to the long side of the arena. Ike handled the exercise quite well and without ending up on his face during the canter-to-halt transition. Yes, Ike, you must listen to Mom and wait for her to tell you what to do. Hard lesson for big boy to swallow, but the peppermints when we were done did help.
Tomorrow Ike gets the day off to rest. I will pack the trailer and give Ike his show makeover. It will unfortunately be a VERY EARLY day Sunday since I have an 8:30 a.m. ride time and we are 1.5 hours away from the show grounds. At least we won’t be riding at 7:15 a.m. in the dark like we did last fall. When you roll over on Sunday morning and see that it says 5:00 a.m. on the clock. and then close your eyes for another few hours, think of us…we will be rolling out of the barnyard at that time and keeping all fingers crossed that we have a successful day.