Still a bit nippy out there, but at least sunny and very light winds, making things a little more inviting. I tacked up and got on, skipping the lunging since he is having a minimum of 16 hours a day turnout. He was fine from the start and we had a nice walk warm up and then on to trot. His trot is a little tight, and that is part of the problem for his canter departs. When we look at the dressage training pyramid, which is a good road map for training, we see that relaxation is one of the fundamentals.
So today I spent a fair amount of time working on him going forward with relaxation in trot, and in bending properly to the right. I used spiral out on a circle to the right and leg yield to the left as well as simple 20 m circles, sending him forward to a steady but elastic outside rein. He did very well with this, so that when I got to his canter work, he was successful in getting the right lead pretty consistently. Odd to think that the canter can be solved in trot work, but the fact of the matter is that his right lead canter is actually quite acceptable. It is only the transition that is hard for him. When we help him with his relaxation in trot, he can organize his body more easily for right lead canter depart.
That said, when he is in canter to the right, when he is reminded by his rider, with the use of inside leg and a steady outside rein, to use his inside leg, the canter improves markedly. Another good day.
Too cold to ride yesterday and today and probably tomorrow, but know that dear Felix is doing quite well. He goes out during the day with plenty of hay and shelter from the wind and comes in the barn at night with the other horses.
So, we’ve been going at the right lead pretty hard the last few days, so I decided to focus on some other things (that will indirectly help with the right lead). We worked on balanced walk halts, leg yield, relaxing his ribcage to the left, and just a bit of canter. It was a very good day and he’s a smart and generous horse. He stayed in the barn with the other horses last night and will tonight and the next few nights while the wind chills are a factor.
Well, this usually happens in the process, where you have a horse plateau or even take a step back in what had been accomplished the day before. On the lunge line, he started out wanting to to take the left lead as usual, but stuck to it a little longer than usual. With ignoring the left lead responses and praising him and giving him a pet and a rest when he chose the right lead, he came on board pretty quickly.
Then I got in the tack and he did some more nice work as he did yesterday. At one point he even took the right lead off a straight line and over the 8″ jump. Relaxation and just allowing him to take the lead is a big factor for him.
Same exercise today as yesterday. After a warm up and a few minor bobbles, he did three times around the circle on the right lead, jumping the 8″ jump. I gave him a break and walked him around the arena and told him how brilliant he is. Then I put him back to the exercise and asked him for four right lead circles and jumps and he obliged. Another walk break and ego puffery, and we went back to the exercise. I asked for five and he did it brilliantly. Pat and done for the day. We get in the tack tomorrow.
Despite the blustery conditions today, Felix is quite happy in his south-facing run in. He’s eating hay in the sunshine and out of the wind. He ate his breakfast and seems quite content.
In mid-morning, I brought him in and groomed him in the cross tie and proceeded to the indoor for some work. We did the same exercise as yesterday, with a long walk warm up, some trot work and then on to the 8″ jump on the right circle. He started out landing on the left lead, which I ignored, and then a few cross canter efforts, also ignored; and then he started landing on the right lead. When he did it a few times, I gave him an in hand walk break around the arena. When we went back to the exercise on the lunge, he got right lead right away several times in a row, so I gave him another break. After that we came back and he got right lead three times in a row, including one time when he circled entirely around the circle, jumped the jump in stride and continued on for another circle! This is just excellent.
Felix got to Field Day around noon today and offloaded and settled in without incident.
In the late afternoon I brought him in and showed him the arena, including the mirrors, in which he admired himself.
I lunged him with a long walk warm up, then on to trot work in both directions. Then I included an 8″ jump , on a right lunge circle, that I asked him to trot up to and land in canter on the other side. The first few times he landed on the left lead, so I just let him, brought him to trot and continued again. I ignored his left lead or cross canter attempts, then gave him a lot of praise and a break from work when he chose the right lead. At one point late in the session, he had 3 right leads in a row. He was well pleased with himself and I let him know what a star he was. Great start.
I am sure he taxed some muscles that he is not used to using, so I gave him a gram of bute tonight and will for the next several feedings.
We rode with our friend Leslie in third flight so it was a very sedate ride. He was a bit tight at first, but well behaved. He settle over time and we did manage to lark over one jump and he was delightful.
Here is a picture from early in the day. Max is the horse in front. Jay is in red on Eddie. There was a decorated place to have pictures taken after the hunt. Unfortunately, all the horses seem unamused by the process!