Soonie and I had three days off to begin the week, and then had a dressage lesson on Thursday evening. I think we have made some very serious progress just in the last couple of lessons thanks to the refocus and good-natured ass kicking I'm getting. He is getting stronger and much more consistent in the shorter/higher outline, and the "up and out" ride is really starting to click for us (a little bit at a time). While we haven't played much with lengthenings, we got some real push and even a very little bit of suspension across the diagonal. We then did serpentines (three loops), asking him to lengthen across the straight line between loops. That helped carry the energy forward into the turn, he filled up that outside rein so much better, and we had that "up and out" feeling around the bend. The icing on the cake was our canter work that evening - we did canter loops for the first time, to the quarter line at first and then to center.
|Canter loop to the quarter line|
Soon was great for this, and as Awesome Dressage Lady noted, it helps me "ride both sides of the horse" and keeps him more focused and balanced in the canter. The center bend in the loop is a counter canter, which requires the horse's weight to shift back some. Our final exercise was cantering down the quarter line and leg yielding back to the rail in canter. I haven't done much leg yielding in the canter with him, with the exception of a few steps we do prior to schooling flying lead changes. He was super obedient and did these well, and this helped to further encourage some of that "sit" in the canter, with him stepping more underneath himself. Overall, it was a super lesson, more challenging and very rewarding. It is so cool to feel the development that we're making!
We had an easy walk/trot session on Friday, and we did a light jump school today. I lowered a couple of the fences, as I wanted to review some of the questions from the jumping lesson, but not worry about schooling height (not that they were super high to begin with, but still). He started off a little bouncy due to the storm blowing in, but settled pretty quickly and he was very good jumping through the box and making the short turns from either the outside fence through the middle, or from the middle to one of the outside fences. I made a point to ride more forward through this, and he made it easily in four strides and felt very confident. It was a successful, quick review! What a good boy. :)
No pics, except this one from last weekend where I caught him napping hard core:
I also need to do a quick brag on Zen today too. Despite the rain storm (extra noise in the arena) and lots of very exciting traffic in the indoor, I elected to just get on her without lunging and see how she'd be. I also rode her in my CWD and left my blunt spurs on to see how she'd do with those too. I tried my figure eight bridle with a regular, loose ring French link bit, but to my complete shock and dismay (read: WTF HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?!) it was too big on her. That bridle was Mr. Princess Face's bridle before I got Soonie his new one, and I still can't believe Zen's head is smaller than his. The hell. I put her back in her normal bridle and bit. And after watching a horse from another barn go round and round and round and round (for about 10 minutes) attempting to jump, the ring finally cleared and I hopped on.
Long story short: she was awesome, we worked on bending left and right at the walk, getting a good quality walk, and her trot finally felt connected and somewhat balanced today for the first time, which is real progress. She was more consistent on the contact in the trot today, which made her feel rideable. Good attitude as usual. I also liked her in the spurs; I'm one of those people that prefers always riding with spurs unless the horse just flat out does not tolerate them. She didn't mind, and I liked that she was more responsive and lighter off the leg. I was super pleased with her today as well, two great Thoroughbreds to make my day spectacular! :)