Wednesday... I had another riding clinic with Debbie Riehl-Rodriguez. My trainer Rex and her mom also rode in the clinic.
The weather was lovely - it was warm with blue skies and sun. Wind was supposed to pick up later in the day (it did) but I was the first ride of the morning and wind wasn't an issue.
We opted to ride outdoors since the arena had dried out and there weren't any mud holes or slick spots. Just as I was about to mount up, the farm turned out a yearling along with two older horses in the pasture next to the outdoor arena.
The baby was galloping back and forth, working the older horses up until there was much bucking, squealing, farting and monkey business... I hesitated to get on Sera. I still have a little residual weirdness from the whole "get on Rosso and having him dump me while I'm climbing on" bid'ness.
Sera was alert and watching the antics next door... her little red ears pricked forward with interest. I took a deep breath and stepped into the stirrup.
Of course not! This is SERA! She may have taken advantage of the situation a few years ago, but she is really quite happy in her work and has settled at the ripe old age of 10.
She seemed awful happy to be OUTSIDE! Fresh air! Sunshine!
She warmed up faster than she does in the indoor... she moved out more... happy with the room and the "largeness" of being outside. The outdoor arena is much larger than the indoor so we decided to worked on extensions.
Debbie asked if I'd been sitting the medium trot.
"Yes... however it's still not great and it's a little more like the Sera and Shanster Comedy Hour" Oh do I have trouble sitting that medium trot! One teensy, tinesy ounce of tension anywhere and I begin to fly out of the saddle...
Debbie watched my medium and said it wasn't that bad. She discussed some medium trot strategy for me in a test.
The transitions are scored along with the actual medium trot movement. There is definitely a clear upward transition from working trot to medium trot... and many riders begin to fizzle out by the time they reach the end of the line. This means there is no clear downward transition from medium to working. Lost points.
One way to assist is to rebalance slightly and ask for a small half halt - a pause if you will - halfway through the line. It conveys to Sera that she will need to come back... gives her a chance to rebalance and it gives ME a chance to rebalance as well (before I begin to look TOO much like a 50lb feed sack strapped to a horse flopping around up there). Then we continue onward in the medium to the end. It is a slight thing that lasts a moment but I could definitely see the impact of it.
It also helps when a horse is going gang busters in medium trot and doesn't want to come back down to working trot when the line is over. More lost points...
And we shouldn't sweat it and think it is all lost if Sera should break in the medium trot into canter because we still have the transitions to improve our overall score. Do not give up should she break stride. Rebalance, half halt and focus on a good downward transition. Then use your corner to your advantage for deepening and rebalancing.
I suppose our horses are supposed to be ready for whatever we throw at them, all balance and lightness in our hands, under our seatbones and straight between our hands and legs. (when you have that all the time, let me know m'kay? Tell me how you did it!)
The slight half halt is a nice check and rebalance if they are not all lightness and brilliance. I forget to throw this check in as often as I should.
We also worked on working canter to medium canter. FUN!
Sera wanted to keep going here. "I'm a thoroughbred! I must gallop onward!" Our downward transitions to working canter were pretty ugly. Hollowed back, head thrown skyward. We worked on the half halt and emphasizing the downward transition with a 10 meter circle to get us back to good - rebalanced and round.
By the end of the lesson she was much better, however, I was instructed to do "a million of those". Throw them in whenever and where ever as I ride.
The beginning of the ride Sera was a bit stiff in her neck - Debbie wanted me to work the bit around in Sera's mouth. Not the see-saw motion - nothing obvious - but many times Sera will tick tock her head. (I realize this means she isn't completely thru and committed to the bridle but I also don't want to encourage it with my hands!)
I was hesitant to do this.. but we discussed that Sera needs to be round and deep when I ask and not when she feels like it. I need to capture her in my outside rein and I need to be more firm in my request. Not so giving. Shorten my reins and use one to get her round. Don't use both - hold the other very firmly - give when she gives.
Also with my leg... if Sera blows my leg que off, she now gets a sharp tap with the stick. Hey, listen up. I mean NOW my dear, darling, red-headed Sera Sue.
I have lots of good homework until the next clinic in May.
Once done I asked Rex and Carol if I could help groom their horses. Carol took my up on my offer to untangle her horse's tail by hand with a bottle of spray in conditioner. Adding as an afterthought, "Oh, and be careful because he kicks and doesn't like his tail messed with"
I about died laughing. Here YOU brush through my kicking horse's tail by hand... He did not kick, nor did he threaten to kick while I hand combed his lovely tail by the way.
Rex and her mom texted later asking if Furry and I wanted to come over for wine and cheese to celebrate our wonderful horses and the beautiful spring weather. Yes, of course!
I think our celebration irritated Mother Nature tho, cuz we woke up to snow....