This past weekend was so much fun.
FRIDAY NIGHT: 7/3/15 Monarch & I had company- our dear friends, Renee and Sonny, (15 yr old Morgan gelding) came over to play. As we were tacking, it began to sprinkle- a welcome relief from the heat we’d been experiencing. Ten minutes later, ominous rumblings changed to outright danger, as the sky was split by a close lightning strike. We dismounted and waited it out in the barn. Twenty minutes later we were back in the saddle. After our warm up, we began to play with tandem movements. Before we knew it, we had designed a pas de deux. The coup de resistance was concentric circles going in opposite directions.. The inside horse had to collect while to outside horse needed to lengthen, so as we passed our 1/4 circle markers at noon, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00, we were passing at the exact moment. The horses became very adjustable and sensitive, as we alternated between the inner and outer circles.
SATURDAY: 7/4/15 Renee returned, and it felt like a shopping trip. Renee is saddle shopping, so we tried on each of her trial saddles, as well as my Neidersuss. Riding three saddles in the course of 90 minutes gave me insight into how design and fit influence both my balance/position and my horse’s balance, comfort, and freedom. Renee’s Albion was my top choice for both my horse’s freedom of gaits and my balance, with my Neidersuss coming in a close second. Of course our geldings acted like typical males being dragged along for a girlfriends’ shopping trip. They gave us “the look,” as if to ask, “Aren’t we done yet?” If they could, they would have said, “we’ll meet you later; we’re going for a beer….”
SUNDAY: 7/5/15 I’ve been experiencing health problems, but knew I needed to get out and train- no matter what. My family leaves for a reunion on July 8th, so I need to maximize the time I have before I leave. On Sunday, I learned my two first level tests that I will ride for my bronze scores. I am using The Digital Horse, www.TheDigitalHorse.com to learn my tests. I watched the animations to learn the geometry and printed the test movement diagrams to learn each actual test. On Sunday, I brought the diagrams to the arena, and tacked them to the wall, (near V.) Reading the diagrams, walking the patterns, and mentally rehearsing each half halt, each deep bend, and each engagement step gave us the edge for learning the patterns. The Digital Horse PDF patterns not only show each movements, but also code the coefficient movements, as well as the transitions and where to perform the half halts. Unfortunately, I felt too ill on Sunday to actually ride the tests in the actual gaits.
DATE: July 6, 2015 Monday
GOAL: ride both my tests, (First Level Test 1 & 2) for my initial scores.
METHODS: Without looking at the diagrams, ride the test patterns at the walk stating aloud where each half halt, each engagement aid, each bend, each transition, each coefficient comes in the test. Use this memorization as the beginning of the warm up. Finish the warm up with suppling and counter suppling at the walk, then rhythm and engagement at the trot and canter.
Ride the tests. Find and school the holes. Last week, Monarch was breaking at the canter after the 15 meter circles and across the diagonal before the transition at X on the left lead.
REFLECTION: All the training last week and the play this weekend has created a forward and balanced horse. Monarch never broke. He is a bit counter flexed in the 15 meter left canter circle, which is remedied through a suppling rein and an engaging inside leg. Practicing the movements in the warm up at the walk and mentally rehearsing the half halts, bends, and transitions sharpened my mind for being a supportive partner for my horse.
NEXT STEPS: School the 15 meter circles with inside bend and flexion. Strive to improve the geometry. (As with many adult amateurs, I don’t have a regulation arena. Tomorrow, I can make measurements with a string radius and mark my sand for 15 meter circles, so I can check the size and bend of the canter circles I am riding.)