Another dark Monday night in the saddle

While G and a new leaser were around for the first part of tonight’s ride, for the most part it was just the two of us.  So it turned out to be an intense schooling ride.  Footing in the arena is back to just a few slick spots, and not too bad.  The Girl is starting to (finally!  after all these years!) figure out that I’ll guide her around the slick spots and help her balance IF SHE WOULD ONLY LISTEN.

Or, IOW, if I shift my weight and maybe ask her to bend a little bit more sharply, maybe there’s a reason.

Yeah.  She was ready for a blowout, too, offering up some rather energetic cantering.

We revisited some complex stuff we’d been schooling before Paris.  Nope.  Need to spend more time on rebuilding that foundation.  Sigh.  But it’s stuff like two-track canter and changing leads on the big circle; things that violate The Beast’s Sense Of What Is Right And Balanced.

So I cut to the chase.  Countercanter.  I’ve been tiptoeing around countercanter ever since I first tried to teach it to Mocha.  She fought it so hard that I had to spend a lot of time reschooling from that.  But heck that was…good grief, three years ago?  Lots of other schooling and conditioning down the pike since then.  I attacked changing leads on the rail first, and basically let her switch back on the short sides.  But then she started getting rushy and pushing out when she’d change back to the inside lead further and further back on the straightaway tonight.

Finally, I decided This Must Happen.  I set her up for countercanter, gave her a free rein so she could balance herself and let her body figure out what to do (no, not kosher dressage training but this is what works for Mocha and me), and went for broke.  Set her up at the very edge of the long side, asked for the outside lead, and then pushed her through the corners.

And she did it.

It was fast.  It was a bit clumsy.  She threw her outside leading leg waaaay out there and did execute a pretty nice outside bend on her own.  I was slightly off the seat, a very light half-seat, doing my best to keep myself balanced, and she had her head level and down, very long rein.  We did several circuits, switched to the correct lead, then switched back, few more circuits, whoa, praise, long rein walk, then repeat on the other side.  Both times the second request came much more easily.

I need to remember this.  If she can learn new and complex stuff on a longer rein in a half seat, she’s a lot better about it.  I need to remember that she needs to be able to find her balance on her terms, and those terms tend to be reiner/cowhorse in nature, not the more elevated position of a dressage horse.  If she can get her balance in her reiner self, then I can get it in dressage form.

But reiner has to come first.


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