I had a great lesson today. I had multiple friends suggest I try lessons with Inga Janke, and today the stars aligned (as in, she was teaching close to me, I had time & could get there for a lesson, and there were lessons available) to make this happen.
It was good. I warmed up my usual way, long and low, walk/trot, then a bit of canter, and said that I was open to suggestions as I think it might be time to change the warm up a bit.
When we got to the canter, she asked if Bali counter canters, she does, so we cantered, then we rode to the next circle, in counter canter, asking for counter bend. Once I had nice counter bend, it was transition to trot, keeping that correct bend. So, if I started in left lead canter, we went to a right circle, for the counter canter, then bent right for the counter bend. Then, when we had good bend, I was to transition to the trot, keeping a good, right bend for my right trot circle.
The transition to trot really helps to get engagement, the hind legs moving up, when I keep the correct bend. We did this a couple of times both directions, getting lovely flying changes twice…when not asked for, so that we just correct. Back to walk, the counter canter lead, and counter bend.
In my outside rein, finding the right amount of contact, not too much, not too little, I feel like Goldilocks, trying to get it just right. The outside rein is to tell Bali where I need her to stay, up, long and low, etc. I am still working to be clear where I want her to be. I get her all nice & bendy, reaching for the bit, for a couple of strides, and I drop the outside contact, she comes up, and we start over. I need to work on staying more consistent in my outside rein.
After we had her going well, Inga asked if I had anything I’d like to work on, and I said that I have trouble keeping the correct angle in half pass. Both in trot and in canter, I end up with with haunches trailing or haunches leading, and I need to learn how to feel and ride this without mirrors.
So, she suggested the haunches in on a diagonal line, which I’ve tried, and failed, but for whatever reason, today, while she was talking about it, I walk half-passed, on a long rein, just trying it while listening, and it was working.
So, we started in trot, down the long side, haunches in for 10 meters or so, then back out. I need to keep her face looking at the short side. For whatever reason, this was the magic set of words that let it click and her bend was seriously improved. A couple of those, then down center line, half pass over, getting her onto the diagonal line, facing the direction of travel, then asking for the half pass.
I might have been grinning, because it worked. Then the same thing in canter, followed by a lead change, the first change was late behind, so immediately back to walk, counter canter, and ask again.
So my homework is to incorporate that counterbend in counter canter work into our rides, and also ask for lead changes after riding counter canter, counter bent, then straighten.
Inga also suggested that I use the release of the driving, outside leg as the request for the lead change, instead of actively asking with the new outside (inside) leg. I’ll play with this, see if it makes it better.
As usual, Bali was fabulous.