So it is definitely July in the mid-Atlantic region. That means green head flies, horse flies, countless house flies, heat and humidity. Ideally you would ride very early in the morning and avoid the blazing sun. But since I must work to support my equines in the life style to which they have become accustomed, poor Ike has had to endure rides and lessons in the heat of the afternoon.
Our progress since the start of the season makes me think that there is hope that we will escape First Level. It might not be this year, but it is a realistic goal for 2015. Some of our biggest strides have been with Ike’s canter, his lateral work, and my riding skills. I’m pretty certain that there is a direct correlation to Ike’s improvement with my improved skill set.
Ike’s canter has been a challenge to say the least. Knowing that our starting point was a “Scooby Do” canter, there really wasn’t anywhere to go but up. As long as Ike is not spooked and I stay focused, his canter is slower and more rhythmic. I still need to have better following hands as was pointed out to me by Hilda in the spring and more recently by Ms. C and Debbie Bowman. I also need to remember to use my outside rein to regulate Ike’s stride rather than keeping my death grip on the reins. The slower more balanced canter has allowed us to have success with the shallow canter loop while schooling at home. Time will tell if we have success in a show environment.
Our lateral work is coming along nicely. With my increased knowledge of proper leg, seat and rein aids, Ike and I can now perform respectable leg yields (still can’t stick the solid 8 leg yield every time), shoulder in, haunches in, and trot half pass. The ability to break down Ike’s body and move specific body parts is huge for me. We really want to avoid any more comments about my horse not bending and looking stiff.
I’ve also made great strides with my ability to sit Ike’s trot…one of those key skills necessary to make it to the next level. I still struggle with maintaining a sitting position during the trot lengthening, and I positively bounce in our canter-to-trot transitions. I keep reminding myself that this is a journey and that it isn’t going to happen in one day or even in one year. In the mean time, I’ve upped my abdominal strength with unmounted exercises and will keep building my sit trot time. It has also helped that Ike now has a stronger topline that can tolerate my bouncing. 🙂
With the hotter temperatures, we are very careful with our schooling – shorter lessons with more focused and quality work. We take frequent water breaks and Ms. C will hose Ike to help keep him cool. I’ve discovered Absorbine’s new Botanicals Natural Herbal Liniment Rinse (http://www.absorbine.com/products/muscle-care/absorbine-botanicals-natural-herbal-liniment). It is a perfect way to cool Ike down and relax his muscles after a challenging lesson. I’ve asked Ike to swab some on me, but have yet to be successful. It is tempting to give it a try – the rinse has a refreshing odor that might mask my post workout aroma.
There is a slight reprieve with the sweltering temperatures and we will take full advantage of it for the next few days.
Happy Summer Riding!