|Tired pony about to scream for his friends post-lesson. (I was drying his legs...again).
He is looking SO BEEFY!
I was hopeful walking into lesson. Trainer asked how he's been, I said he respects the pelham nicely, however he started getting jumpy off the contact, and I thought it was because the pelham is still too much bit for him, but it definitely served the intended purpose. I told her how Friday's ride back in the snaffle was horrible, and I long lined him Sunday because it was so bad.
We were both pleasantly surprised by an agreeable Penn. He didn't bounce off the contact at all. We had some moments to start where he just needed more thoughness and connection, but some inside leg on and he met the bridle nicely. One of the doors was extra spooky (we were inside again), but instead of running through me when I put inside leg on, he thought about it, then gave and moved out towards the spooky door.
I trotted around a little then she had me serpentine up and down the ring, getting in as many loops as possible in the 40m or so long ring. I did it originally in posting trot because he was so well behaved, but switched to sitting after a few turns because I can be more consistent.
|It ended up being 5 loops.
Penn basically needed more to do than go around the ring or figure 8 or whatever. Any time he'd bobble or invert in the turn or across the ring, the half circle became a volte, then he was allowed to continue.
- Keep sitting up.
- Keep the elbows in.
- Keep the elbows pulling down on the shoulders.
- When going around the bends, especially to the right, sit more to the outside and think about pulling my inside seatbone across his withers in order to actually use my seatbone correctly.
- If he gets looky/inverted/not quite through, open the inside hand though the turn while giving the outside rein (just like if you were long lining- take one and give the other).
- Turns to the right- slow the pace down a hair and use the opening inside rein.
- Think about half passing around the turns to the right, it'll mess up the serpentine but that's ok. Careful not to get the haunches in on the turn, more just a working pirouette feeling in trot on a small figure.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Penn really responded to the serpentine. He was all business. He stayed wonderfully uphill and through. Trainer was super happy with him and kept remarking how much better he was than two weeks ago. I thought it was really great that we were able to put some straight lines in our work. I haven't been able to ride on a straight line in a while because he just hasn't been cooperating. They weren't the longest lines, but they were a start!
The serpentine eventually became a figure 8 using 2/3 of the arena (cutting off the end of the arena with the spooky door). Trainer had me think that same half pass around the turns. There wasn't enough for Penn to do again, so before the change across the school, we'd volte. Eventually she had me trot across the change, canter, half halt and trot, volte where we were before, change, repeat. Then it got more complicated by adding a medium trot 15m circle after the volte and before the change.
|Kind of looks like owl eyes sideways. The actual pattern doesn't have as flat tops/bottoms as this picture shows, but I'm drawing in Excel so you'll have to deal with it!
We didn't get to it, but the next step would be to working canter on a 15m, medium canter on a 20m, half halt then the trot work. Basically just keep throwing things at Penn to keep his brain engaged.
|Figure 8 madness!
Then you could make the change of direction happen through walk. Or add in leg yields or shoulder in or anything really. Basically the whole point is to make an entire dressage test happen like, bam bam bam!
The figure 8 pattern caused a lot of good stuff to happen- it was a great mix of within the gait and changing gaits transitions combined with enough forward thinking gaits to offset the collection I was asking for. Penn never got upset or anticipatory of the pattern. He just became sensitive to the half halt (good thing) and I actually had to tone down the half halts that brought us back from medium to working trot because I was applying them and almost getting medium trot to walk. The canter to trots were light and Penn didn't lay on me or fall on his face (I got a "Damn straight!" as praise for an excellent transition). Trainer got after me for having a 'rogue' left elbow- I take and take and take with it without giving it back.
We ended up finishing a bit early. Trainer didn't want to push him anymore because he had been so good, and I'm totally cool with that. Penn was so good.
We talked about when to move him up to second level- and agreed that we couldn't get it done properly in the shows I already have planned. Penn just won't be 100% ready, which is totally cool. I swept Mikey up through the levels faster than I should have because I was medal hunting in a limited time frame (Mikey was getting older). Penn is young with more potential than Mikey, so I'm very OK with playing at this level for a while and getting second level solid. The figure 8 madness should lend itself to getting the canter adjustable, and then using that same idea to make the simple changes through walk happen. I'll probably go back to a handful of the winter schooling series shows and Penn will go second level for the first time there.
I think this more uphill connection is what dressage trainer was getting after all those months ago when I rode with her. However, Penn wasn't ready for that in February/March, and I didn't know what to do with it. When he started getting funny about it, I let him lose connection because it made him more cooperative. I thought I was doing something wrong, when instead he was just saying "This is hard." I absolutely needed a ton of help (and still do!), more than I was going to be able to get at that particular time since dressage trainer was only coming once a month and Trainer was South for the winter. All in good time though as Penn is now ready for the increased collection that makes him more uphill.