Julia came out to ride with us. I haven't seen her for a while and she has gotten a job a few hours away so Irish will likely not be seeing much of her. We are happy for her and sad for us.
Carmen was pretty mellow right from the beginning. It was such a good ride- she was quiet but listening and rarely distracted by the things outside the ring. I am loving wearing the spurs because when she does start looking out in the corners I can reinforce my bending aids without using excessive (and futile) muscle effort. When I use too much muscle I get all twisted and stiff and much less effective over all. With the spur I can give her a reminder and then carry on. Knowing I can impact her bend allows me to stop worrying about what she's worried about and focus on what I want. I am sure that at some point she will really test me on this but I am prepared.
I told Shanea that I wanted to work on using my seat to set the pace and not so much rein. We started with halt-walk transitions. The idea was to use my seat and let Carmen reach for the bit rather then me bringing the bit to her (if that makes any sense. Essentially, stop shortening the reins and pulling on the bit!).
As we practiced Carmen began to reach for the bit and step forward.
When we picked up the trot the first goal was to go forward and straight, maintaining the rhythm.
In fact a lot of this lesson reminded me of lessons with Johanna.
At first Carmen was a bit erratic - speeding up and slowing down. Bending was hard. But I love how patient Shanea is and finally we got there.
|see how she's looking for the contact? (in a good way)|
After a brief walk break we picked up the trot again, but this time I was sitting and it was to be really slow. From there she can build her strength and it was easier to impact her balance. It was also easier to find a place to 'sit' and half-halt through the seat. I know that Andalusians have a reputation of being 'easy' to ride but Carmen has a lot of movement in her body and she actually is not that easy to sit (at least for an ammie like me!).
It's amazing what you can do when you're not going 90 km/hr.
And it was really really hard physically. I was surprised with how much core strength it took to keep my body in alignment while keeping my seat under me and not be stiff.
walk to trot transition with a special guest appearance...
The weather has turned warm and humid again and I was getting really hot and tired. But I refused to ask for a break. Carmen was being so good and tuned it that it was a lot of fun. Like Shanea said it's great to see her reach for the bit when I give rather then get upset and pop her head up (or take advantage by spooking).
We then went on to canter work. At first there was some resistance to the transition- I was getting too tight and she didn't like that. Which is totally fair. But once we got it she became really strong in the bridle. Which meant that my half-halts were not being too effective. On the one hand it was great- she actually was taking me to the corners rather than back peddling.
Carmen: CANTER, yes! Let's do this! Hang on!
So I didn't want to shut her down. Part of me was like 'eep, if she spooks through that corner I'm gonna die'. The other part was 'yay she figured out the forward part'
What Shanea helped me to realize was that I was holding her in the canter to get her to slow down when I really needed to do half-halts that actually, you know, released. When I started doing that she actually began to respond and come back to me.
Here's a trot-canter transition that made me so happy. It was the best one yet and it was on her 'bad side'.
I still have so many things to work on- my shoulders for one thing. They are so tight. I think with awareness and not having to use so much leg I can focus more on that. My core strength for another. I have started back to my exercise class and will keep it up through the winter. There's a lot more rein length I can give her. Now that she's reaching for it this will be easier. Before it felt like when I gave her rein she disappeared.
But I am also so happy with where we are right now and where we're going.
|Canter? I love canter! Let's go!|