The past two weeks Monarch and I worked on lateral exercises. I feel his balance and response to my inside leg are much improved. Through our training, his lateral reach is becoming longer, more rhythmic and fluid. Today in my lesson with Dr. Susan Schneider, I had a big breakthrough in my understanding of engagement and throughness. I now understand how the horse “pushes off the bit” to recycle the energy and come through. In my daily goals, I was unable to develop a through canter with Monarch unable to make connected transitions between gaits and within the canter. Today’s lesson gave me the missing link. The feeling of riding a connected, through horse is highly addictive. I look forward to taking my lesson from today even farther in our training. Despite the spring winds and rain, I plan to train tomorrow. I received a big confidence boost to meeting my training goal and earning my last qualifying score at Second Level.
Minutes of Training: 75
Goal: Lesson with Dr. Susan Schneider: improve horse’s way of going by refining rider’s timing & feel in the suppling aids
Methods: 1. Begin on 20M circle in walk. Monarch was very tense today with an inverted neck, high head, hollow back, and ribcage against my inside leg. It was very windy, and he was not tuned into any of my aids. I shorten my reins and lengthen my arms. I can only move my hands by initiating the movement from my elbow. I hold the outside rein just in front of saddle, resting my hand on the wither. I open the inside rein and rest my hand on my inside thigh. I wait until my horse releases his neck and gives. This can take awhile at the beginning of the ride. I need to wait and continue to ride rhythmically, even when the feel gets strong as horse figures out the release. (If I release too early, I teach my horse that he is in charge.) My inside leg is used in the rhythm of the gait, to move my horse into my outside rein. I hold the reins quietly, (never massaging either rein), and as lightly as he allows, but as strongly as needed. As soon as he releases, I release. If my horse jerks the rein, I hold firmly with my core. The holding rein always comes from the core, not the fist. In the beginning when he is tense, I will release by bringing the inside rein about halfway back to the neck. (I never bring either rein backwards. During suppling, I move the inside rein out.)
2. Early in the suppling process, I need to re-supple every few strides. At this point, I continue to adjust and release as the horse releases. This is why I don’t bring the inside rein all the way back to the neck. My timing needs to be sensitive, quick, and proactive before he gets too far out of the bend and stiffens against me. I also need to pay attention to where in the arena he is most concerned. This is where I need to proactively begin to supple about a stride before he starts to stiffen.
3. As he begins to soften, I ask for the trot through the suppling inside rein. Again suppling needs to be sensitive, quick, and proactive. The rhythm of the trot with the suppling inside rein relaxes and connects my horse to me.
4. As my horse begins to relax and connect, I am able to hold both my rein close to the neck. My suppling rein only needs to move a small distance from the neck to supple. I need to continuously monitor and supple my horse. When he is connected and relaxed, I can do this with smaller, sublter aids. As my horse connects, he will push off the bit, recycling the energy and coming through. At this point, the contact gets stronger in a pleasant way. (Hard to explain this feel, but when you have it, you know it.)
5. I leave the center 20M circle at B or E, by using my inside leg to send my horse sideways on to the track to go large. This movement is a bending line, like a leg yield with bend. I can take into shoulder fore down the long side with a bending leg yield at each corner.
6. Repeat in both directions.
7. Return to the 20M circle in trot between B & E, and ask for canter. Again, supple through the transition. Repeat the supple steps in canter. Go large when the canter is supple and through. Ride shoulder fore on the long sides. Repeat in both directions.
Reflection: Suppling is the key to all qualities on the training scale. When any quality is lost, return to this suppling 20M circle. As we practice this, Monarch will become more confirmed in moving into the outside rein from the inside leg and the inside suppling rein will become more subtle. I need to monitor each stride and supple proactively to keep him in balance and through.
Next Steps: Practice these steps until they become ingrained in my modus operandi: this is how I reconnect and relax my horse when he becomes tense, looses balance, disconnects. Through practice, he will become confirmed in suppling to produce connection, engagement, and thoroughness.
5/22, 23, 24/17: horse- continue to develop & refine laterals- build strength & suppleness for thrust and reach; tune up collected canter rider- focus on lightness & effective aids using Beth Baumert’s aids: shape, listen, act; comments about training: when I focus on my effectiveness/lightness of aids, Monarch is much better. Exercises: leg yield; shoulder-in; sh-in to travers; travers/renvers in walk & trot; canter- 20 M circles trot/canter transitions; working canter/collected canter transitions. lesson tomorrow
5/15-21/17: continue suppleness/laterals; balance/canter
comments about today’s training: add travers to exercises tomorrow; work canter transitions- working/collected (if Monarch doesn’t hold canter, work trot/canter, then collect for a few strides to walk canter transitions) Rider- focus on light aids