Friday, August 25, 2017

Part 2: More Pulse Fun

I should begin by stating that the pulse system that's been used on Penn is a one of a kind system (I don’t want to share the actual company name on here because you know, privacy reasons for my fellow barn people). It is based on that company’s human pulse machine and has been modified to use on horses. It's currently being marketed to vets and equine chiropractors, but eventually might come to certified non-vet users. I have zero details about that besides they’re looking into legal reasons you’d have to be a vet to use it (but I am extremely interested). The system pictured in Part 1 is the certified user only version- the pulse head puts a lot of force out over a small area, which means you should have training to use it. Rest assured, it is not enough to actually hurt your horse! However, you would not want to use it on yourself.

Luckily, there is a lower intensity version in the works that will eventually be available for sale to regular people! My barn is basically beta testing it for its creators (I dropped the thing on day 1, excellent data there *facepalm*). We jokingly call it "The Phaser" because its actual name is “Mini-Phaser”, and of course there are many Star Trek jokes, “Set phasers to massage!” It is a hand held unit that uses pulses/massage vibes mixed with cold laser technology to treat muscle soreness. They also have a custom liniment (that they’ve specifically made to be USEF legal) that you can use to aid the phaser treatment (water works just fine too, but I’ve found it’s not slippery enough).

He's not drugged, I promise. He's just extremely relaxed post-massage session with the mini-phaser last Saturday.

I’ve been messing with the phaser for about a week now. I love it because Penn loves it. It sometimes takes horses a few minutes to adjust to the feeling, but horses usually take to it nicely. Penn took to it immediately when I first treated him last Thursday (8/17). To do a treatment:
  •  Find a location where the horse flinches away (I use the handle of my spray bottle and run it all over him). I’m looking for a book of pressure points to help identify exactly where to massage for maximum effect when I find a flinch point.
This book has an excellent diagram of pressure points and what parts of the horse they effect.
  • Spray the area (no bigger than your hand) with the custom liniment. I found dry hair pulls a bit on the phaser head since it is silicon and water just isn’t slick enough to make it comfortable in my hand.
  • Turn the mini-phaser on and gently rub it back and forth across the area for 5 minutes to start, but it can be longer as the horse adjusts to the mini-phaser. It should not feel like an upper body workout for you! I find myself wandering to a bigger area, which means he's sometimes still flinchy when I'm done with an area and then I have to do that spot again.

And that’s it. Treat as many areas as you want for as long as you want (starting with 5 minutes and working your way up in time). Ride immediately following or not, whatever you’d like.

There’s a phone app that goes with it since the mini-phaser has different pulse levels, except that’s still in beta test mode too and you need an Apple product to get the testing app… and I have a Droid. (I’m currently in the market for a used, working iPhone 6 or better- it needs to be capable of/have iOS 9 and have Bluetooth. If you have one you’d like to sell, hit me up please!).

Penn fell asleep in the cross ties on night one (a week ago Thursday), and I probably massaged him for an hour in various places on his back and hindquarters. His flinching was gone after treating, which was awesome! When the muscles are tight (aka the horse is putting weight evenly on all 4 feet), you can touch other parts of the horse, same side or not, and feel the pulses. In one place on Penn’s hindquarters you can feel the pulses in the stifle. Just super cool, and Penn loved it.

I rode two days later (last Saturday) and he was quite nice- relaxed and responsive. I ran through a mix of 1-3 and 2-3 movements with flying changes in my own test pattern, and he was game and relaxed for all of it. I’m testing this to use at shows, so I opted to treat him again after I rode, and then again Sunday morning directly before I rode (mock horse show environment).

Sleepy relaxed horse.

OMG guys, my Sunday horse was so supple and relaxed, but not overly so. He gave me 20 minutes of really super work: Floaty forward uphill trot, relaxed and bouncy canter. I rode the canter work from 2-3 (walk-medium canter, 3 loop serpentine, short diagonal simple change, repeat), except I replaced the simple changes with flying changes. All of the work was so relaxed and supple. The two flying changes were extremely relaxed and on the bit, and I’m pretty sure one was clean and the other might have been a hair late behind. He got praise and then we went to road walk and baby-sit a baby horse.

I rode again Monday, sans massage, and it was atrocious. First he couldn't bend right, then he couldn't bend left, then he wanted to trot at mach 12, then he wanted to buck in the canter and doing a simple 20m circle was a chore. Has someone gotten spoiled? I donno about that, but he gave me two days of solid work and was probably sore since it was two days of really good work. I also don't usually ride on Mondays because he generally works so hard Saturday and Sunday. Who knows, but they're all entitled to off days because they're not machines.

I've been focusing on specific points on him:

From the book,  Beating Muscle Injuries for Horses

  • 3: When I find myself having to resort to manually flexing Penn down (like in my lesson with MF), I know his neck is bothering him. I felt this last weekend bending right, so I flinch tested his neck on the right side at point 3. He promptly flinched away, so I dedicated about 7 minutes to treating it with the mini-phaser. I got a very interesting reaction: instead of melting into it like he normally does, he spent 2-3 minutes "kicking at flies" and having big body twitches. Then he suddenly relaxed and settled into it like he always does. I tested his neck after, no flinch response. I've been testing it every day since (7 days so far), no reaction.
  • 15/16: These are consistently flinchy spots. I can usually make the flinching go away, but it hasn't stayed away like #3. It's sometimes both, sometimes not, and they don't necessarily match right to left.
  • About 4" in front of 15: This is sometimes flinchy directly after riding in the tack. It's failing the flinch test less often now.
  • About 4-6" behind 13 (the lowest part of his back): This is sometimes flinchy after riding him bareback. It hasn't been very reactive since I first treated it last Thursday.
  • 12: I tried this one thinking it would help with his girthiness. I found out that his girthiness is NOT muscular soreness. It didn't react to the flinch test, and after treating it for 5 minutes, his bitey face was extreme. Sorry bud, I won't do it again. I had another look at it yesterday, and he's got hives and fly bites along his whole underline. They've spent more time outside as the weather has gotten better, so yesterday I sprayed his whole underline with listerine. I think that might be part of his problem, and I'll treat the inside of him again with Abler AbPrazole (which should arrive today).

So massage drunk.

They're doing a run of 10 mini-phasers in 4-6 weeks, and I'll buy one of those (not sure if it's part of the beta test though... I just know I'll be getting one of the 10). In the grand scheme of things you can buy to treat your horse (magnets, massage blankets, BOT stuff), I'd say it's on the upper-mid end of price. You could certainly spend a lot more, but there's many items that cost less. I haven't seen any that work as well though, and certainly none that Penn clearly enjoys as much as the mini-phaser. In a few months, they're looking at a run of 100 units.

I used the mini-phaser on my calves for about a minute each last Saturday (right on top of my clothes, no spray)- my legs were sore from walking down 16 flights of stairs for our evacuation drill at work 3 days before (I couldn't point my toes down without a lot of pain and it hadn't gotten better). It knocked out 95% of the pain immediately and my legs were back to normal within 24 hours. I like the mini-phaser too!

You know what Penn doesn't like? Hock boots. I got him the padded BOT ones. He lasted approximately 30 seconds Thursday night before wigging out kicking, got himself turned completely around in the cross ties, and pulled until his halter broke. He ran off to his stall trembling. So now I get to return the boots and buy a new everyday leather halter!

This is not a selling pitch, I've just had a lot of interest in what I've been doing to Penn: If you’re interested in this pulse system, or for more information on buying your own mini-phaser, or just more information in general, feel free to email me! I’m happy to share the company information with individuals, just not the WWW!

Monday, August 21, 2017

2017 Eclipse

Hope everyone kept their eyes safe and got a view!

No cats went outside and stared at the sun.

I got to see 82% coverage, can't wait for 2024- Husband and I are aiming to see totality!

Part 1: So What's Wrong With Penn?

The short answer: We don't know.

The better answer: He seems to be just fine now!

Unrelated, I took this pic after a major thunderstorm rolled through in July.
The moment was gone incredibly quickly.

Starting a couple months ago, he'd come to work a bit uneven, but work out of it. In June, he had a few comments in his free walk about not stepping evenly up front. A month ago, that became a bit more consistent in the trot, but then it wasn't actually consistent enough to get any kind of read on it (or nerve block). All we could gather was he wasn't feeling OK, and that he sometimes stepped short on the right front, but sometimes it was his left front (the right more often though). M took him for a spin and felt what I meant, and agreed that it's weird and inconsistent.

He's been getting adjusted by the Chiropractor on a regular basis. He's getting his vitamins and electrolytes.

One night he just didn't work out of it. He felt super shitty. We hoof tested him for an abscess. Nothing. His toes were long, but he's never reacted that badly to that.

His farrier came out the next night and trimmed him (he was already set to come out). His feet were quite long for 5 weeks in the middle of July. We opted to do four weeks next. I've never done four weeks. Why would we be doing four weeks IN JULY AND AUGUST? Oh yea, because it keeps raining and the grass keeps growing and so the hooves keep growing too.

Lots of hoof.

One of the families at the barn has a Pulse machine (their own design based on a human product- it's really cool) and I decided to give that a try. I hadn't considered them in the past because treatments were just too expensive (ie $200 for a session). They recently lowered the prices substantially, so the night Penn came up really weird, I was like, "Sign Penn up!" It's this neat pulse machine that works the muscles into relaxing by applying pounds of pressure on small pulsing heads that the operator takes down the muscles. It has saved logs of each horse that record data from each visit and treatment, so the more you treat, the better the algorithms become (or something like that. I don't code this type of thing!)

Baseline testing down the spine. I believe it works by directing pulses over each vertebrae and seeing what bodily resistance they meet. Red is very bad, yellow is not good. I am not excellent at reading these charts.
Receiving treatment based on the results of the spine test. (red line)
Finally deciding he likes the treatment. It took a while since it has a cord and sounds a little like clippers.

C worked on Penn for over an hour the same night he got his new toes and had very little impact on his muscles- Penn was still wound extremely tight. He recommended I have Penn tested for Lyme- he's had a few other horses not respond to the pulse machine, and they've all been off the charts for Lyme.

The sensor was showing better results after testing, but physical testing (running a jabby finger down the spine) was still earning the pre-treatment reactions.

I had my vet out two days later to draw blood, and to leave minocycline for Penn to start taking while we waited for results. I was hoping for an "easy" diagnosis. While Lyme is not a great one, it is a TREATABLE one. Aka, please give me something that I can just throw money at and fix it. That's how it was with Mikey's hock: "Ok, he's got chips. Can we fix it? Great. Let's do it." When Mikey died, there was a lot of blood... and all I could think was, "OK, we can fix this. Just put it back in. Where can I buy more?"

Unfortunately his lab results came back with only 'elevated' numbers- nothing that should be causing a physical problem. We opted to do another 10 days of mino (we had done 7 already) just to be sure and to knock out the chance of the problem being anaplasmosis (another tick-borne disease that is also treated with mino). Back to the drawing board.

Second session baseline. Much better.

Interestingly, Penn did improve from his first treatment with the Pulse machine. He was still incredibly reactive, but he tracked a bit better laterally and rode better. I opted to have 2 more visits because I had horse shows coming up and didn't have anything else I could throw at him. C found at the second visit he was still very reactive, but he started to respond to the pulses within the session.

We even worked on the neck some! The yellow line is his baseline, the bars are a check to see how he's reacting.
The chiropractor identified the base of the neck on the right side as a major problem area (last time he worked on Penn he spent a long time on adjusting that part of the horse). C was working on the base of the neck and Penn's muscles gave a huge pop and tension release. It was super neat to watch!

By the third session Penn was absolutely in love with C and every time he'd stop to change a setting or a pulse head, Penn would reach over and be like "Hey, keep going!"

What a great baseline!
His back looked much better, but with some tension way back (to be expected since I had him sitting a ton).

After these visits, Penn went on to absolutely exceed expectations with his first official third level score:

Coincidence? I donno. I'm certainly not messing with it though!

So what's next?

Penn is still moving well. I scheduled him to get pulse treatments the week of and the two weeks before championships (3 weekly treatments). He'll see his chiropractor the same night as the first Pulse treatment. He'll see the farrier at 4 weeks again the night of the second treatment.

All I could gather was that he probably hurt a lot bodily somewhere (or enough all over) and would push unevenly from behind. His left hind is the weak one right now, so the right front being short more often would make sense. When I really rode him, I could make him track evenly.

Coming soon, Part 2: More Pulse Fun!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Second Level Test 3 Shenanigans

Ok, show of hands. Who knew the Dover Medal program was ending this year?

I sure didn't.


That doesn't align perfectly into my plans! I had planned on riding the 2-3 Medal classes and 3-3 all next year until Penn was ready for 4th... finishing my 1*/2* centerline ratings, Penn's second and third level performance certificates, and hopefully winning a Dover Medal along the way.

Obviously if I want a Dover Medal, that can no longer be the plan. I have one more recognized show weekend before championships (champs is not the place for me to attempt to get a Dover Medal!). Since this upcoming show weekend is conveniently two separately numbered shows, there's two Dover Medal classes.

Of course, I snail mailed my entry before I found out about the Dover Medal Program... But the bright side of snail mail is that I don't have to pay an entry change fee since the secretaries don't even have my entries yet! (I sent emails and extra checks)

So we're signed up for 2-3 and 3-1 both days. If 2-3 is after 3-1 on Saturday, I'll ride both tests. If 2-3 is first, I'll scratch it. My bronze is more important to me, so the 3rd Level tests get the fresh horse. If I get my bronze Saturday, I'll scratch 3-1 Sunday and give 2-3 my full attention. So much is up in the air, it's all pending scheduling and results!

Anyway, that meant I needed to do a run through of 2-3 to see what I was working with. I haven't actively worked on counter canter since June's recognized show, only flying changes (swapping them out for simple changes or changes through trot when I need to mix it up).

I set up a dressage court in the outdoor this past Sunday, which ended up too narrow for the length so some stuff was awkward, and went to it to get a baseline: (the video was taken up and down and had a lot of shake, so this is cropped and stabilized, which is why it looks funny)

I made plenty of mistakes: the trot needs more power/forward/step/impulsion, and it needs to be not BTV. The TOH needs to be better, the halts need to be better, but the canter work was surprisingly good and uphill (until Penn got tired). I used my leg off technique for impulsion as I went into the first serpentine and Penn misinterpreted that as a cue for a flying change, hence the bobble starting that movement. In the first simple change, he went to hop immediately back into canter... I stopped him, then positively nailed him with my left spur for the right lead. I had to spend the time before the next medium apologizing to him for my rudeness.

BTV much?

Overall, I would have been happy to have that go down centerline! Would it have won a medal? I donno.

I scheduled a lesson with the local dressage trainer at her farm for Tuesday this week. She has a standard size outdoor court and an eye for test riding. I emailed asking to work on 2-3 because I decided to enter it on a whim. #3weeksisplentyoftime

She was immediately thrilled with Penn's topline. She last saw him about 2 months ago and thought he looked good then but a lot better now ("Whatever you've been doing is working!"). She also loved my new "fun button" that I found in walk: Penn sometimes comes out laying on my hands, which pissed me off to no end the other day. I gave him the kind of half halt I'd give him in the canter to sit the fuck down now (it's a motherfucking big one), leg slightly back and on lifting his barrel, then a few sharp taps on his hip with my whip. He makes an angry face, but lifts the front end and sits a bit more. DT thought it was great, and said I should start playing with half steps using that in trot (I can already feel a piaffe wanting to come out, but I am not pushing the button that hard for a few months yet!). She warned me to be careful with his walk- it gets a bit unorganized when I overshorten it.

The aforementioned outdoor. A little spooky even though it's neatly tucked into a hillside. 

We went right into what I would do to warm up at a show, but then stopped to mix in some turn on the haunches work:

  • Work on a square at first, doing quarter turns.
  • Keep them slow since he wants to rush through them and get unbalanced.
  • When working 180s, stop at the 90 mark, then proceed.
  • Until he gets stronger in them, make the beginning of the 180 tight behind, then let him get a bit bigger in the second half so he doesn't plant a hoof and get an automatic 4.
  • Work him on a 10m circle in haunches in, bringing him around into a TOH and back out again. Make the center of the TOH vary in size like you would as you school pirouettes.
  • If he's reluctant to make the TOH in a particular direction, begin it with a shallow haunches in, then bring it around.
  • When bending right, keep my balance to the right. He wants to drop me off the left side of him and fall out. Release the left rein a hair.
For the trot:
  • Let his nose out by pushing him forward then bringing him back with the "fun button".
  • When tracking right Tuesday night, he did not want to bend right. Flex him with the inside hand and scratch his shoulder every now and then with the outside. His whole picture changes.
  • Along the lines of bend, in 10m circles right, keep the outside leg on to force the left hind to keep up and stay in. It's almost a haunches in feeling for him. If I don't do this, I lose the hind end to the outside and it'll be a 5 or less.
In the canter:
  • Same right bend/flex right/scratch left problem.
  • More prep for the simple changes.
  • Keep the outside leg on in the right lead - he is suddenly weaker this direction and wants to leave the outside hind behind and 4 beat.

Someone had to "tie" to the trailer upon arrival because we cut it too close to lesson start time for me to schlep his stuff into the barn. He was extremely unsure and definitely still needed his helmet on.

Off we went to the test!
  • Keep the entry centerline straighter. Maybe I need to track left to enter. He's been especially fussy to the right which makes for a squiggly centerline.
  • Let his nose out just a hair in the medium trot.
  • Shoulder-in is good.
  • 10m circles are good as long as I keep my outside leg on.
  • More angle in the haunches in right- from C, it doesn't read as enough. Push him forward and resteady myself to the right and add some extra outside leg halfway through. A lot of the same theory as the TOH right.
  • I need to keep my right hand extra down in the shoulder in left so he doesn't tilt his head.
  • Same 10m circle rules.
  • Same more angle in the haunches in left. Keep my hands down and quiet because I end up wagging him.
  • Get better halts.
  • Know your count for the rein back and stop asking one step early.
  • Same rules as above for the TOH.
  • Free walk is good, play the fingers to keep the topline round.
  • Walk/Canter was excellent.
  • Medium canter A++
  • Serpentine good.
  • He dropped out early at the first simple change- she had me represent the change and add more new inside leg in a leg yield thought (without actually moving sideways) to keep him straight and get him hopping, and to start riding the change after the centerline so he won't break early in my test.
  • Medium canter A++
  • Serpentine good. Keep applying leg to keep him hopping.
  • Same rules in the second simple change.
  • Trot and final centerline, A++, easy 8.

Nothing much huh? Lol

We reviewed the haunches in after the test and added more angle, but by then Penn was pretty beat. She was thrilled with how his canter was looking- like night and day from when she saw him last. It's so much more uphill.

So that's the story of how we entered two more classes at the next show and took a lesson I never planned on taking (which was very beneficial). I might take another one before we go to Loch Moy, but we'll see. The next few weeks get tough for me to do anything extra as we gear up to finish my bronze and then hopefully smoke them at First Level AA Championships by riding a third level horse

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Finding Our Inner Hippo

I was going to include this on my lesson post, but it really deserved it's own post.

One of my goals for the year was to go to GP Trainer's, have lessons, and then go swim in her pond. It has a lovely beach in with good footing, and is big enough and deep enough that you can walk around in really deep water, or actually swim. I spent a bit of time working towards this goal of playing in the pond: the Cowboy Dressage lady and I worked on getting Penn to step in water. We played in the water complex at Loch Moy. I started riding him bareback.


Next year we're going to go for actually swimming, but this was a ton of fun too! I don't think I'll get down to her farm in time to swim again while it's warm enough to do so, so that's why it's getting pushed back to next summer. Just enjoy the photo montage... which is actually a mix of photos, gifs, and video clips!

First steps in. He liked blowing bubbles and lipping the water.
He was so game to get in the water and go to a deeper section of the pond!
I think he stepped in an underwater hole or something, or was just surprised by the ground falling away!

A good time was had by both of us!

Sadly, we couldn't get M's horse into the pond. We tried Penn leading her in, but he was enjoying himself and playing like a little kid, so he was pawing and accidentally splashing her, and then swished his tail and got her pretty good with water drops... The offended mare look was legendary, haha! The water was great BTW- the pond isn't spring fed, so by the end of July, Virginia's hot summer has heated it up to almost bathwater warm.

Until next time everyone...

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

7/29-30/2017 Lessons: Getting All Jazzed Up

Last weekend, M and I drove to GP Trainer's for lessons. I don't have much video because her Pixio wasn't working, and we had our lessons back to back, but I do have some good media from the trip!

Saturday 7/29

Still working on finding these square halts.

Saturday's lesson covered simple changes and 10m circles at the canter... and jazzing Penn up a bit. Through our warm up canter work and our real canter work, Penn kept breaking from the canter, no matter the lead. As soon as we'd turn down the diagonal to simple change, he'd break. We'd get through 2-3 10m circles (go around the ring and 10m circle at P, R, C, S, V), and he'd quit. I'd be digging an inside spur into him, pushing him forward with my seat, and making sure I was allowing with my elbows, and he'd still break At one point, I cued for canter and he didn't pick it up, but there I am throwing my seat and shoulders at him.

GP Trainer had me put him together in walk, then lift both legs off, and pony club kick him. She said let him run off a little bit, praise him, and bring him back and repeat once more. She had me put him back together and cue politely for canter. He leaped off into it (in a good way), and we repeated the 5 10m canter circles to the right.

He did them wonderfully- I was able to use infintiely less leg, and got a bit more sit and collection out of them With a better response to my leg, I also got a better response to the canter-walk transition. We nailed them!

We repeated it tracking left- he is weaker left, but we still got all 5 circles. GP Trainer had me "threaten" him by taking both legs off halfway through each circle, and that was more than enough encouragement to get him to dig deep and continue the canter. I made sure to ask him to walk soon after the 5th circle, and it was a wonderful prompt downward transition.

We finished by going for a little walk down her driveway. Penn got a bath and turned out for the night, and M and I painted the town red by going to Applebees and Tractor Supply, with lights out by 10pm, haha.

Sunday 7/30

We rode in the outdoor for our Sunday lesson. On Sundays, the indoor gets taken over by cavaletti lessons, so we opted to work outside in GP Trainer's standard sized court. I want to do one of their cavaletti lessons eventually. I have trouble justifying it though. If I'm going to make the drive, I want two lessons with GP Trainer, and I just don't think Penn could do 3 days of work so we could include a cavaletti lesson.

We worked the trot halts some more since I continue to struggle with them. GP Trainer understood why I'm working them so much- 1-3 has a halt at X with a double coefficient (a side note, she's going to be riding one of her baby horses in 1-3 in a few weeks and despises the test, haha). Penn likes to rest a hind leg in the halt- the left more than the right.

That left hind ruining a beautiful halt. 

We worked on giving him a major halt half to get him to sit in the turn across the school, then letting him walk a step into the halt. It feels like he's taking a ton of steps into the halt, but she said it looks like he's just settling himself. I found thinking one step wasn't enough- I need to think about letting him take 1.5 steps. Enough that I'm not going to shut him down early, but not so much that I actually let him sneak out of it.

This is from Saturday's lesson, but whatever. It worked!

I rode some lateral work- SI down the long wall (at the angle from Sunday's test, which she said was good otherwise it doesn't look like enough from C), and half pass from corner letters on the rail to X. She reminded me to ride the end of the half pass- make him straight again. I rode a really sucky medium trot early on, but the laterals were good.

I moved on to the canter and did some shallow loops, and then tossed in the left lead half pass from 3-3.

It felt INCREDIBLE. And easy. OMG it was the best. It's not the steepest, and doesn't look like much when shot from the side, but I was thrilled with it. It is the first left lead half pass that actually made it down the line I wanted, the haunches didn't lead, the horse didn't break. I was able to start it (albeit slowly), and FINISH it. I can see where it needs more inside leg though to create more jump.

I then decided to be super clever and use a flying change to get to the right lead... Yea, I'm not so clever. It failed miserably because I didn't prep or plan for it well enough. We spent a good amount of time jazzing him back up (making him "itchy"), and then doing renvers in canter and being able to apply the same jazz up aids within the renvers and being able to collect him again. The next few changes we made we a mixed bag of unclean- however he started to change the hind end first, then the front. I have to remember to continue pushing him to sit through the change, not pushing him forward through the change.

We did a few to the right, which has actually become trickier to ride properly and he still bucks through them a little bit. GP Trainer wasn't concerned about it- he's finding the hop he needs behind to change. All of the mistakes he made in unclean changes she wasn't concerned about- he's sorting out where to put his body parts.

I did some more jazzing him up in the walk before the right to left changes, and inadvertently got a few steps of piaffe. I am not calling it that myself- GP Trainer did. Of course I don't have it on video though, M had to go tack up her horse. She said that's how she develops it- essentially walking the fine line of jazzing them up and letting them get frustrated in the walk until they offer it, and then praising them.

Throughout all of the canter work, I need to keep the inside leg on and really sit to produce the jump that Penn needs to do the work.

I finally got around to doing the right lead half pass towards the end of our lesson. I wish it was on video. I didn't hold my line- I let it get steep because Penn offered it so easily. I asked for half pass to centerline and he got very light in the bridle and floated across the diagonal from the corner to 15m sideways to somewhere between X and E. GP Trainer had to yell at me to finish it properly because I showed signs of simply enjoying the ride far too much and letting him fall out of it... I halfway succeeded in finishing it properly and was just tickled that it felt so easy for Penn. GP Trainer said the "tricks" come very easily when you've done your boring homework in finding straightness and balance. I absolutely cannot wait to ride 3-3 so I can show off his trot and canter half passes.

Fancy trot picture.

We finished with looking at the TOH (we were going to look at it after he got warmed up, but got sidetracked by changes).
  • The TOH left is OK, but she wanted him to take slower and bigger sideways steps because he's taking way too many tiny ones to get it done (like 6-7 instead of 4ish). I did a little opening the left rein and bringing the right onto his neck.
  • The TOH right is weak. I had to use the same opening inside rein, but she wanted me to step into my right stirrup, and to get after his left hind by taking my leg back and pretending to kick him in the stifle to keep it active. He likes to start well then fizzles out halfway through.
She said neither is really good enough for Third, they're still in Second level type collection. That's fine- I'll keep working on them!

I wish I had more video - I really rely on it to look back at exactly what she said for each movement and we covered a ton of ground in this lesson. We looked at all the things from First to Third (except medium and extended gaits). GP Trainer is lamenting having to ride First Level herself (it's apparently been years- she usually takes horses out at Third and then not again until PSG), and she is completely on board with continuing to show 3-1 and finish my Bronze (but not 3-3 yet, she thinks the canter is a bit too long for him at this stage), and basically only show 1-3 a little as possible. She also applauded me sticking with First at Championships and thinks I have a very good shot at Finals because I'm showing him two levels above our championship test (which we'll ride in a month and a half). She said to make as much of the 1-3 test of Third Level quality as I can- that will really bring in the good marks.

Penn didn't get a bath when we were done because...

Which deserves it's own post! :-D