So I plan. And then I get twitchy because I'm ready to implement my plan. But can't. Because I'm sitting in a chair, not in a saddle.
Things to accomplish before the July 20th show:
- Confirm trot and canter half passes. They used to be good, and they've gotten a little wonky lately. Time to sharpen that up!
- Find a better medium trot. Our medium trots were better last year and for some reason they have gone by the wayside. Time to get those a good bit better so I can fudge an extended trot. In being realistic, I know I'm not going to get a solid medium and solid extended trot in 5 weeks, but what I can do is develop a better medium trot so I can show my best medium as extended and medium, and then pair it with nice transitions back to collected trot. I'll lose a point on the extended, but I can't have it all.
- Get those flying changes down. Mikey and I started learning our changes last fall but had trouble getting the front to change, and then getting the back to change at all. I wanted to test the waters my first time riding with the German Clinician (and save money) by only riding with him once during his two day clinic. I had a such a good lesson with him, he made room for me to come back at the butt-crack of dawn the next day for a second lesson so we could keep working on the flying changes. He watched my sorry attempts at a change before we went through his flying change exercises toolbox before ending up in what I called "remedial flying changes": put a pole at an angle to the arena wall and use it to help the horse out. He said, "Your horse knows how to change the front, but it's hard for him to change behind. It's just going to be hard for him- some horses are like that. You just have to work twice as hard at it." Day 1 we went through the various exercises he's used to teach horses the changes (changing directions and ask for the new lead, counter canter on a circle and ask for the new lead, etc) before moving on to thinking of the change as changing the horse from right haunches-in to left haunches-in (and back and forth and so on) so I could focus on making Mikey's hind end change the bend first. I spent a bit of time in walk and trot, going down quarter lines and center lines, asking for Mikey to change his bend by riding haunches-in to haunches-in while keeping his front end on the straight line. He said that this method is how he teaches horses tempi changes- if you want changes every 3 strides, you practice asking for the new haunches-in every 3 strides in walk or trot. It doesn't matter what the final haunches-in looks like, all that matters is the response to the cue. Is it prompt and willing? Yes- then you got the change. Day 2, we repeated the haunches-in exercise, and then went back to the poles at the end of a short diagonal and maintained the same thinking over the pole. My horse got it right 90% of the time (sometimes making a clean change before the pole), and eventually on the better direction he pulled the pole out from the wall and told me to ride between the pole and the wall, and the change next to the pole... and Mikey did it! A clean change. A hollow, tense, and above the bit change, but a clean change. He said, "A 5 in the show arena. It will get smoother, but good enough for now."
Well it's after. So here's the aforementioned plan. I usually ride 5-6 days a week.
- 3 days a week are going to be flying changes days. As we were told to do by German Clinician.
- 1 day a week will be a combo of collection/lateral/medium work. For us, they all go hand in hand. Laterals help his collection, collection creates the push to do the mediums.
- 1 day a week (plus any extra days I may get to ride) will be hacking on the road, through the fields or doing a gallop set (no more frequent than every 5 days for the gallop set). That's a lot of work the other 5 days, we'll both need a letdown day.
So now to wait until I can actually ride, and work, again.