Letterman always comes out a bit slow so I incorporate a nice forward canter up in my 2pt position into our warmup. I go flying down the long sides to get him moving forward off my leg and then settle the canter for the short sides. I was going to go across the diagonal and do a simple change but thought that I would see if he would do a flying change. He did it perfectly so I tried the other one and boom another perfect change. I was giggling like a little kid out there doing flying changes around the ring. We took a break and I tried one using a figure eight and once again perfect change. He was pretty damn proud of himself!
We had a little gallop around the ring and then did some more serious work. I was pretty excited about his change button. His former trainer (owned him his whole career) told me that he teaches all his horses changes. Well he sure did a great job!
I think it’s important not to drill the horses so I do tend to goof off sometimes with them. I’m still riding them correctly but I may just spend 20 minutes going forward and doing nothing but that. I will throw down some poles and just have a good canter around over them. It’s important to give the horses something fun to do.
I rode Burgiss next and spent the first 10 minutes just doing lateral work in the walk. I like my horses to really be soft in the bridle, flexible in the body and move off the leg. Burgiss is one of those horses that is always on an upward curve. He remembers everything you taught him the last ride so you are never starting over. His shape is really changing and you can feel him starting to step under with his hind legs and press into the contact.
It’s one of those rides where you really wish you had video because he was impressive. I was also really focused on my riding and making sure to be as steady as I can be in terms of the contact. I think one of the trickiest things is always following the horse so if they go up you go up and if they go down you go down. You never want to drop the contact. I have gotten so much better over the past year in terms of riding extremely green horses and maintaining a better feel. It’s mainly about being quicker so that I am immediately taking a slight pressure and adding leg as soon as I feel the horse start to leave the contact. My trainer has really helped me to become a better rider in terms of how to teach young horses about the contact. It’s not about pulling them down into a frame but creating an outline by using your legs to allow the horse to push from behind into a steady feel. They have to understand how to yield to the bit. I don’t waste anytime in teaching a horse this concept.
Burgiss’s canter gets better with each ride. His right lead canter is the better canter so I work that one first but the left is slowly coming along. It’s hard for him but a lot of that is just developing the proper muscle. I try to work it enough to build the muscle without making him resent the work. We had some really nice steps on the left canter with a soft bend. When I can get a nice bend the canter instantly changes so that was my goal yesterday. Just a bit of shoulder fore in the left canter. Then I would do a soft leg yield out onto the circle. I could really feel him stepping under himself.
I was able to ride four horses (work let us out early) and finish at a decent time. I also gave Kurt a lesson and we worked on the concept of inside leg to outside rein. Kurt is a good natural rider and wants to fine tune his riding. Junior is a tough horse to ride because he is so short and compact and Kurt is so tall. Junior is also a horse that will convince you that you can’t put your leg on him so I was teaching Kurt how to set up the half halts before he used the inside leg so that Junior didn’t rush. It’s really neat to see my former horse doing dressage with the hubby riding.
Then we worked a bit on 2pt position which Kurt finds super hard. I think it is really hard to 2pt on Junior because he’s of his short neck. Kurt got a little frustrated with it but it will come with time.
I’m off to Kentucky to go to the CANTER National Meeting and watch the Breeders Cup!!!!