This might be something I hear a lot…and while it is an easy thing to say, either to myself or someone else, it is a much harder thing to do.
Finding that sweet spot of releasing the reins forward and having the horse reach down for the bit, instead of popping his head up and going above the bit is tough. Or putting your leg on, and having him move forward into it, instead of popping his head up and going faster…again, hard to do.
The upside, I’m getting to that spot faster in each ride, but I still don’t start there. More forward, rounder, having Bali reach down and lengthen her neck. She likes to shrink her neck all short and tight and go around like a shetland pony with a little kid.
Today, after my warm up, we were walking, and I asked to go through the walks. Collected, medium and extended walk. Free walk, I’ve got, but feeling the difference is hard for me in those others. I’d done this before, and sort of had an idea of the difference, but reading or talking about the theory is a lot different from feeling and producing the movement.
First, I collected the walk. This was where rounder, more round, and ROUNDER still came in. Egads, you’d think a girl would know how to get a walk by now. Collected walk, as I work on shortening the steps, pop goes Bali, above the bit, then starts the work on making her rounder. Ask for inside flexion, get her to release her neck, longer neck at the base…oh so hard. Finally, that was ok, and then keeping contact, I asked for the bigger, extended walk. This is easier than collected walk for me. Back to collected walk, then really collect the walk and do a half walk pirouette, or turn on the haunches…or as it started, a 4-5m circle. I kept getting haunches in, so needed to get more shoulder fore. Then, keeping the activity in the hind legs, move the shoulders around. Finally, the trick (this time) was to take my whip in the outside hand (earlier it was in the inside to tap for more activity in the inside hind) and use it to tap the shoulder to encourage the shoulder to come over. Wowser! That worked very well today. A couple of good ones, each way, and then, it was from that collected walk, into canter.
The canter was nice, we didn’t spend a lot of time on it today, just straight canter, but then it was back to trot work…first shoulder in to renvers work, which is coming along nicely, then some half steps and really getting a lowering of her croup and some super-engaged trot work.
At this point, James got his workout. He was providing the tap tap tap on the croup or hind legs and it works, but when he had me go to a slow trot, that meant he was getting a slow jog around the arena!
After a couple times around the arena with really collecting, I asked for a medium/extended trot and boy was it there. And it was oh-so-sit-able. Comfy. So, we did that a couple of times.
Bali is starting to feel more comfortable with this harder level of work. She had been feeling a bit tired and grinchy about it, so I gave her a couple of light weeks and that seems to have done the trick. I’m taking a short break this weekend, so she’ll get 5 days off. That should do her good.