This IS horse related

So in case you saved 5 minutes of your life last night by not reading my last blog post, what you need to know is that I went to the barn last night. Hubs went to a soccer game and wanted me to bring Oliver but I didn't think the indoor facility would let us bring a dog in - he was going to recon and get back to me - if they do, then Ollie and I are going next week.

Once I made it to the barn, all the stress from work and school and the drive lifted away. Finally, a judgement free zone.

Dassah mare was spectacular. I noted a workout plan a couple posts ago that we're using as a guideline for getting fit. This week we were supposed to tack walk for 40 minutes but we only made it to 30. At this point I can only get out there two times a week (this week was an anomaly) so our progress is much slower than the plan outlines.

Somehow the grooming and tacking up went so quickly - in my mind, it takes much longer.

I've never ridden in the indoor at night here before. At the top of the kickboards the indoor has open windows all around - it brings in a ton of light. During the winter there are clear window screens that are let down - so the light still comes in but the wind stays out.

At night though you can see the lights from the cars driving past and a bit of your reflection as your ride by. Dassah was a little wary of her reflection since it wasn't a true reflection and the random lights going past but she handled herself very well.

You know, I didn't realize how much you could accomplish at the walk. It's reiterated over and over that the walk is extremely important and should not be glossed over but when we started this fitness program, I assumed we'd have to do all our walking outside otherwise we would die of boredom in the arena. This is not the case.

We warmed on up on a loose rein and then spent the next 20 minutes doing a compilation of the following:

20 meter circles
Figure 8s
Squares (Thank you Wyvern Oaks for the idea!)
lots of walk/halt/rein-back transitions.
free-walk to medium walk*

I get it that the halt is a movement. That we're supposed to ride into the halt. It just doesn't translate well for me to my body. I still fall into this habit of taking my leg off and closing my reins and Dassah pokes her nose into the sky. Last night though, I focused on riding into the halt. I didn't let it matter that Dassah stuck her nose up and out and that I felt her hollow a bit. I zeroed my energy into keeping my leg on while closing my fists. Every time she braced against me at the halt, I'd ask for a rein back. Sometimes I would massage my reins until I felt her give a little. I know her giving and her being soft in this case are different but I'm trying to get her to release that tension.

So, more serpentines (how many can we do on the long side, where are my seat-bones in the turns, am I looking in the direction of the turn? Are my arms giving during the turn?)

More figure 8s (can we keep a true circle? How can I better help this bend? What happens when I support with my outside leg? What happens when I support with my inside leg? Am I giving with my arms? Am I still soft in my elbows? What is my body position? Are my heels down?)

Squares (going clockwise is easy, counter clockwise not so much. What do I need to do to support her through this half forehand, half turn-on-the-haunches? Am I half-halting to balance us before we turn?) I realized that for her to understand the half-halt, we had to do it consistently. It's a little funny to half-halt at the walk, it seems unnecessary but I know it helped.

I worked on breathing with my legs (Jane Savoie) and loved how I could feel her start to swing. A couple times she got confused and broke into a trot but came back immediately. We didn't have a collected walk at all but we did get some medium walks (ok, not a true medium walk but we were striding out with purpose!). We also did quite a few transitions from our "medium" walk to a free walk and back. Her free walk is very swingy and forward. Coming back from a free walk is always our downfall. My own fears and shortcomings have instilled in her this cue that a shortening of the reins means FAST is coming RIGHT NOW! Instead, I really worked on bringing her back into a medium walk and then giving with my arms. Trying to let that tension out of me so she doesn't feel stifled. I think we made quite a bit of progress there.

Our last movement of the night was incredible. We came out of a square and went up the centerline. I can't remember if I half-halted or not but I rode her into the halt and she halted, square, underneath me, and not bracing. It was beautiful.

Hopped off, stuffed her in her stall with her candy (half-alfalfa mix hay) and called it a night.

Oh, and she's shedding. Initiate happy dance that celebrates spring and tidy ponies - don't let the happy dance fool you though, I am dreading all that hair coming off her and landing on me. Nota Bene: DO NOT wear chapstick at the barn for the next two months.

Thanks for reading!

*translation = not so much a medium walk as the walk we get when I shorten my reins and put a bit of leg on. It's not collected, it's not extended, it's just our normal walk.

edited to say "halt" instead of "walk" in, "Our last movement" section. 


Popular Posts