We are two days from pulling out for Lexington and three days until we officially land! I cannot believe that NAJYRC has gotten here this fast; it seems like just yesterday when I was first looking at the FEI Junior tests and wondering how Val and I were ever going to be able to do them! I cannot even begin to thank all the people who have supported us this far and have really made our dreams, and not mention our 2010 goals, a reality. I hope we can make you all proud!
This past week we have been really working hard on his connection and submission. I am pretty sure that we are going to be working on those two things forever, but I don’t really mind all that much! He has grown in the training by leaps and bounds not only since the beginning of this year but since the beginning of this summer. Val is so much stronger in the work these days, and that is both good and bad. He has developed into a different looking horse right before my very eyes and it just makes me excited to keep working hard and see his progression go even further! He is starting to stay on the bit more honestly these days and when he stays on the aids everything is a harmonious picture. With him it isn’t that he holds tension in one side of his body more than the other because he often switches hollow and stiff directions, every couple of months or so! The place where he holds the tension in his neck is the vertebra near his shoulders and withers. Getting him to ride and really stretch there to unlock his neck so that the energy can flow to the bit has been a tricky thing to figure out. The other focus has, of course, been keeping him in front of the leg but not running. I have a tendency to compensate for him being behind the aids by running him off his feet. It is really about activating the hind end so that he takes quicker steps with more articulation of the joints, and managing the flow of energy so that it doesn’t escape by him flipping his front legs about. I can keep that feel for longer now than I could before, but it is still something I have to focus on everyday. I also need to start practicing riding in test situations because it is harder for me to maintain the correct training feeling when we switch from schooling to show mode. I get conservative and concentrate on being able to produce everything instead of riding for 100% and risking a bobble for brilliance. Stephanie, No more of this!
My favorite exercise that we have worked lately is getting Val to “pony” trot around the arena in deeper connection (not rolkur, not show carriage, but a place where he is honestly accepting the aids and bringing his back up and hind legs in). We then ride a haunches-in to a shuffling pirouette volte focusing on accepting the true bend needed for the half pass. Then out of the pirouette we ride a half pass in the same not-large or very active pony trot about to the centerline, or where ever he loses the feeling of driving with the hind legs under the body to the inside rein. The straight from the half pass another volte/pirouette and back to the half pass once more. This really helps me to get the correct amount of bend in the half passes and the pirouette work. It also sets Val up to be more accepting of aforementioned bend and the inside leg aid needed for a true half pass. Definitely not as easy as it sounds, but by removing the element of his big powerful trot he cannot drag me and weasel out of my aids until we are leg yielding.
Today was the big guy’s day off and a spa and vet day! I pulled his mane and he no longer is the laughing-stock of the barn with his long-enough-to-be-western mane. Put in a little elbow grease, some scissors, and a pair of clippers and we have one handsome devil of a red-head. The goofy thing loves the vibration of any sort of clippers and proceeded to put them in his mouth and then quite adamantly not let go of them. He is adorable – I had to bribe him with the fact that he could eat the chain on the lead rope if he let me finish his lips and nose nicely. Thankfully he is an easy sell!
I also pulled everything out of the trailer and packed it all back in its correct spot. Since we have been at a different barn this summer and it is only for a few months I have been pretty much living out of our trailer and it was a disaster. Thankfully everything now has a place and is in it!
Riding our Freestyle tomorrow and then Individual on Sunday before we head out for the freeway to Kentucky! Cannot wait to see everyone there!