Brrrr.....COLD outside today! Boo was first on the agenda today. Boo is working only on the basics. I always examine the training scale each time I ride, but she spends a lot of time working on rhythm. She has the tendency to change her tempo and it is very easy to block the energy to her hind legs. I have to be very conscientious about what the reins and seat are saying to her, because it's very easy for me to disrupt her. She is also crooked, like everyone, so I'm constantly looking for ways to keep her hind legs moving straight underneath her without her fishtailing through corners and during changes of direction. Of course, that is also a condition of being on the forehand and allowing the croup to bounce high behind me! Pay attention to the hind legs!!
Wheels was super today. The cold weather did not do him any favors and it took a long time to warm up his stiff muscles. Once he got going, however, we were able to work on throughness by leg-yielding from the centerline to the wall to a canter transition, then back to trot and begin again. Sometimes we would add circles or medium gaits within the exercise. He progressed nicely with prompt transitions and suppleness through his rib cage. This was an easy exercise, but I insisted on quick answers to my leg at every step of the game.
Junior, too, felt great. I didn't do much, however, since he was sans left shoe! He must have pulled it yesterday afternoon after he went out, but we couldn't find it anywhere. I wanted to work him a bit, since I didn't want to turn him out on the frozen ground without his shoe. We worked quietly in the beginning, just long and low with lots of changes in tempo, trot and canter. He felt really nice, so we worked harder, but in the same general direction. His pirouette canter was really nice so I decided to try the turns. The pirouette right was lovely; the left a bit sticky, but rideable. Maybe he's figuring this out?? It's all about the quality of the gaits, so that's what we'll continue to focus on.
BooBoo was last but not least. We worked mostly on smooth circles and "forward" down transitions. I recently read JJ Tate's article about reward during training and thought I'd use her recommendation for improving reactions to half-halts. Use a ten or twelve meter circle to guide the horse toward the rail. As he approaches, use the wall to ask for the walk transition and allow the half-halts to build the "sit" for a good transition. BooBoo likes to stop with his shoulders and pull downwards with an open mouth. He walks very abruptly. This exercise allowed me to keep my leg on quite strongly so I could push a forward transition through to the hind leg without everything stopping in front.