I Need a Break, but I’d Rather Have a Breakthrough

So we got more snow. That’s right, in Georgia we have now had snow for three consecutive months! Hi, I thought that I lived in the South? Because of the aforementioned snow riding was elusive for Tuesday and Wednesday. Probably a good thing after the near breakdown of last weekend.

Thursday and Friday we were back in the double with the curb tied off. Never let it be said that I am not a stubborn child – “You will ride nicely with just the snaffle. You WILL Val!” Someone must be listening to my prayers, or else hard work does actually pay off, either way I had two pretty okay rides at the end of this week! I have to out-think my clever beast and since he had decided to shut down in the half passes, there had to be a way to trick and wiggle them out of him. The answer: leg yielding! We also work the canter first because Val doesn’t have as much of a chance to become irregular in the rhythm and back off the forward impulsion and shwung – Edward Gal recommends this too, honest! The innate circular motion of the gait also helps to bring the horses back up naturally to create the carrying power needed for collection. We started out, after warm-up, riding shoulder fore on the long side and on the 2nd track (our dressage arena has been closed since the snow, so I made sure to clear out the jumps off my long sides enough to half pass in one of our two jumping arenas). Then we would come on the second track and leg yield to the rail establishing the sideways button. Then it was time to ride the shoulder fore/shoulder in to the half pass for somewhere between 4 to 6 steps off the rail. Once off the rail, go for a straighten and then leg yield back. Brilliant I know – and then after a couple times add to have half pass, leg yield, half pass. When he would get stuck I just reminded myself to take a breath, walk and finish the movement, straighten, and go back to whatever gait we came from. It sounded easier in my head – let me warn you right now. But it is do-able, and suddenly my horse could half pass again! Amazing, sometimes I can actually figure things out on my own. Now why didn’t I solve this problem a week ago? Repeat steps 1 through 3 for each direction and each gait and you have a pretty dang good ride.

Another major sticking point has been the walk pirouettes which have been more of a pivot than anything. To combat this I have been enlarging them to a sudo haunches in on the circle all in the name of keeping the hind leg actively stepping up and putting it down. Val didn’t really like this exercise so much at first, but after we had a mini discussion where I outlined the point he has acquiesced enough to do it without an extreme amount of complaint. Thank you pony, our walk pirouettes no longer suck! :D

Saturday (Today!) was a lesson with the Boss Man. Connection, Connection, Connection. Does anyone else base how connected they are on rein length and which stopper your hands lie on, or is that just me? My hands usually live at the second notch when I am riding him up and together (competition height in his poll and neck). But today they lived there and I still couldn’t get Val to find his home in the contact. Up and down and in and out, Val was everywhere except with me. Most of the time it was me on the other end of the phone going, “Can you hear me now? How about now? And now?”  with no response. Submission Val – it is actually a coefficient on the bottom of that test. We worked everything today: canter/halt transitions, half pass both trot and canter, shoulder in, changes, mediums and extendeds, and at the end we ran the Team Test. Mom was on hand to video (I will try to post up a few of the really good moments tomorrow!) which was for the best considering I was not sure the ride went well until I reviewed it. The highlight had to be the impromptu three-tempi’s. Don’t let anyone tell you that they were supposed to be three FOUR-tempi’s! Val can only count to three – or maybe that’s me? Either way, I promise to get, at least, a clip of those up!

So okay, maybe I can take a chill pill now that I know we don’t look as hideous as I thought? Ha, we can all wish!

It was our last lesson until the show – FOURTEEN DAYS! – which means the Boss was in a picking mood. I actually really appreciate that, don’t get me wrong. He really is the best coach I have ever had or known; he knows when I need to be coddled and supported and he knows when it is time to push and be brutally honest. He is always fair and honest though – two qualities that without I would be a whole lot more stressed than I already am!

Show countdown is official now; it’s time to start drilling both the Team and the Individual Test – guess this means I need to learn the second of the two! I think that I am almost, maybe, sort-of excited about Aiken in a can-I-throw-up-now way. Is it over yet?

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