Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Flat School

Soonie and I had a great flat school today!  :)   I wanted to focus on the following:
  • maintaining more consistent contact with his mouth
  • more activity/engagement from behind
  • position (head up, shoulders back/chest open, hands up with shorter rein)
As you probably have already guessed, these made a noticeable, positive difference in our ride.  I have probably been placing too much emphasis on the lateral work, and while it will always have a role in our flat schools, I need to keep my focus on the basics.  Soon was stellar - he got great push from behind, maintained a lovely, deep stretch while staying light in front, and overall just felt like he had a whole extra gear tonight!  Trot and canter especially felt huge compared to his average gaits.  He spent probably 90% of the school in stretch (with some stints of a Training level outline), and I was very excited with how he felt.

We successfully did trot to canter transitions tonight as well!  I have skipped them on him and done walk/canter transitions only, because trot/canter transitions were proving a little rough for him.  He tended to get strung out, and I decided to work on walk/canter (which helps him stay under himself more) while I worked on his trot, particularly the stretch trot.  With yesterday's video feedback, I decided the trot/canter transitions were worth trying.  We did left lead first, then right lead.  Very well done both times, and we nailed the right lead on the first try (trot to right lead canter had been disastrous in the past)!  Going from the stretch into the canter seems very useful for him, so we'll be working on that more.  I got a lovely, stretchy canter and a huge, open stride, and got to shorten his outline in the canter for a bit, then let him back down.  Again, he felt fantastic.  Back up, big push from behind, and we were eating up ground.  Just amazing.  :)

Can you imagine this guy
being mean? ;)
I will note that Soonie really hates horses in his working space.  He gets along great outside in the big herd, seems to play really well with others, but get him in a ring with other horses, and he turns into Boss Mare.  Seriously.  It's like his personal bubble is half of the ring, and if you're in his half of the ring while he's focusing on work, well then screw you.  Ears flat back, making awful faces, and then he's stretchy happy self as soon as we go by the other horse.  Crabby Pants.  He's really happy in his work, and when he's alone that's the only thing I see (happy relaxed horse), but around others it's always happy relaxed horse with moments of "AHH I'M GONNA EAT YOUR WHOLE FACE" as he passes others.  You can see it in the video (somewhat mild), and tonight it was hysterically mean.  I was almost falling off laughing at one point because his faces are ridiculous.  We had to ride around one lesson, then the next one came in with three horses, so lots of face making.  Thankfully though, I was able to find enough space for us to focus and really get some great work done. 

Overall, an incredibly productive night with some real progress.  I feel like we have a new focus and we're on the right track to achieving some wonderful things.  :)

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