As part of the new year, I'm going to start keeping a training journal for everyone to follow. I can't guarantee I'll write every day or about every little thing, but I'll give it a college try. I hope we can make this an active participation with others sharing their training stories for the day. Everyone can participate, not just Fell-Vallee peeps, so please, join in.
The weather was very mild for January. It's nice to be able to ride in a sweatshirt without the slightest chill. The forecast for tomorrow, however, is single digits, so I took full advantage. Too bad the outdoor was slightly icy or I would have been outside. I began the day with lunging Wheels. I often choose to longe him first thing to get him out of his stall and moving. He is on half day turnout (not enough space for everyone and my horses can rotate rather than clients' horses having to share time) so he doesn't go out in the morning. It's hard on him since he has EPSM and needs to move. He's not usually naughty on the longe, so I can start him quietly and let him work out his kinks with walk and trot. Once his muscles are working properly, he can work in a forward manner with side reins. I find it beneficial to work him in side reins a bit shorter than I would normally work a horse so that he will take a contact. He's very light in the bridle and goes a bit high in the neck. He's better with the reins short and working quite forward. i've found, too, that his canter is improving tremendously by working without a rider as he is finding his balance and becoming stronger. Lots of transitions, especially trot-canter/canter-trot. We walk without side reins, so I may remove them several times during a session.
Liz rode Junior Saturday and Sunday, so I wasn't sure how he would feel. I've been riding him in the snaffle lately so as to really work on throughness. His left jaw has felt sticky lately, so I can confidently bend and supple him with the snaffle. He goes better in the double, so it's good to work him without it sometimes. He felt really nice, working on lots of forward transitions in the beginning and checking the changes. I knew he was late to Liz's aids, but I had no difficulty. He felt straight through the body and was nice in the hand. I worked on transitions to pirouette canter both on the long sides and diagonal lines without turning, but requiring him to stay very straight. He came too slowly with the hind leg now and then, so we worked through that by going from medium canter on a circle to pirouette canter to medium. If he came crooked, I did a few super collected steps in counter canter. We finished by working on the "piaffe." That's a serious work in progress, but he seems to be finally understanding what it's all about. I have discovered that I need to keep my hands very low and steady and not allow him to move me. I used to always try to stay soft and collect only with my seat, but he'd come above the bit, go backwards, launch forward, etc. If I make myself a human side rein, he seems to understand that he can balance on me a little and then move his legs better underneath. Maybe this isn't "classical," but it's working for him.
Wheels came out under saddle after I was finished with Junior. He was splendid, but the work was easy. Very forward in trot and canter to begin and then lots of 10 meter circles to 1 step of walk and back to trot. He needs to build strength and self carriage, so we spend lots of time with transitions between gaits and within gaits. Very boring for most, but very rewarding!!
The rest of my day was spent teaching lessons. Maybe CeCe, Katie and Michelle would like to discuss their rides?