There are obviously a great many things I could or should write about right now, and I hope to do so with some planned time off, but for right now I wanted to capture something from my lesson this weekend.
Tristan and I are still learning how to communicate with each other without a bit, and it’s mostly going pretty darn well. One thing that stays the same is getting and keeping him forward.
On Saturday, we worked and talked a lot about how he feels when only one half of his body is responding well. By that I mean sometimes his hind end will speed up nicely, but his front end is still dragging, so he sort of buries himself on the forehand in a very sticky way. Sometimes his front end will be ticking along but his hind end drags, which means he falls out (literally, sometimes his whole hind end just collapses because he cannot even) or contorts himself to avoid working it.
We thought and talked a lot about it and I had a really good breakthrough that made sense to both of us and was an instantaneous improvement in the quality of his gait – how often does that happen?!
In short: as we’re going into the corner, he got a tap behind the girth with the dressage whip to remind him to keep up with his hind end and step under with his inside hind. This in addition to a bending aid to ask him to follow through the corner with his whole body.
Coming out of the corner, as I straightened him again, I tapped him on the shoulder with his dressage whip to remind him now that he’s straight and we have captured and translated the power from his hind end, to lift with his front end, too.
BOOM. Somehow that just worked for his brain. Deep bendy flexible corners with real energy straight through coming out of them. String a bunch of those together and he was really cooking along.
It’s not an every corner thing, but it was a brilliant short exercise to sharpen him up. I may try it in the future on a circle if I can get my timing down – behind the girth on the “points” and in front of the girth on the curves between.