My last few lessons with James have been good. I’m really starting to develop more feel for the uphill balance, what more power feels like, and all the other things that you read about the the books and on the interwebz…but until you actually do it yourself, it is just a bunch of words.
Since the fix-a-test a few weeks ago, I’ve been really focusing on more uphill and more forward. Last week in our lesson, 2 riders came by the ring, ponying 2 horses each. Apparently, 6 horses with 2 riders clip-clopping down the road ENERGIZES Bali! And…we used it! This week, James remembered up, athletic Bali, and helped recreate that…with a lunge whip. He would just touch her hind legs with the lash to get her more engaged, and whew was it working!
James also had us add a rubber curb chain guard last week, and it is making a big difference. Bali isn’t curling up if the curb rein is touched. She is a sensitive girl, at least when it comes to her face and reasons to use less energy. I’m riding in the snaffle bridle at least 2x a week making sure everything is all good with the snaffle as well. Pictured below are too-long reins from the last show. Still a pretty pony though!
Another thing I’m working on is finding the right balance point between contact with the shorter, correct reins, and soft, giving hands. For years, I gave away everything, my answer to any tug on the reins was to let the slip through my fingers. I’m finally learning to keep them shorter and creating the boundaries for my pony, but I’m struggling with the right amount. Sometimes it is too much, and the brakes have overpowered the engine, other times, I slip back into the too-long reins, and lose the energy that way. Tonight, it was figuring out how to get her more uphill from my seat, with the following, soft arms, but not to the point of losing contact. Goldilocks should have taken up dressage, her quest for just right, would have fit right in!
We did a fair amount of work in walk. It is really hard to pick up contact, ask for a collected walk, not have her haunches flying all over the place, then extend the walk, then collect it, too much contact/too hard hands and we stop moving. Give away too much, and I can’t lift her back into collected without using too much rein.
Then there was the transitions within the other gaits as well. It was a really good lesson. I’m starting to get the feel for that energy and even more important, recognize it as good.