After wrapping up the "death corner" week this past Thursday, I was very much looking forward to a break. AR and I packed up our truck and ski boat and headed north to my family's place at Seeley Lake, MT. I needed the mental escape, and after our very frustrating week I hoped that it would do Rose some good too. Oddly, I managed to almost forget that I had a horse. All I had to focus on was cutting my wake at the right spot, engaging my core muscles, leading my cut with my shoulders, pulling through the cut...and right about then I realized that this was actually pretty good cross training for riding. Oh yeah, and I own a horse.
Back home and back to real life. After mowing my lawn, trimming the hedge, planting some perennials, and a few other housekeeping errands I eventually drug myself to the barn. I was excited to see Rose and assure she was still in one piece, but to be honest, I was not excited to get on her. I shouldn't have been so morose about it though. The Rose that I love and adore is back!
I had hoped to ride her outside, to avoid the death corner. Not a good training plan, I know, but I just wanted to have a somewhat productive ride. I justified it by the fact that we will have to spend the entire winter with the death corner. Eventually we would get around to dealing with it again. That was not to be the case however. Just was I was about to mount up, the impending thunderstorm that had me mowing and gardening all morning arrived. So, no death corner escape for me. I hopped up and asked her for a nice forward stretching walk along the rail. We turned the corner of death and, gasp, she didn't spook! She looked a bit, but that was it. I instantly relaxed and hoped that it would be a trend for the day and not a one-hit wonder. A trend it was.
Now what? I didn't have a plan for our ride, as I assumed that we would be fighting over the death corner again. After our initial warmup, I decided we would work on shortenings and lengthening. Rose had a lot of energy and forward momentum, which felt great. She was also being very responsive to my seat. I really focused on relaxing my leg muscles and sitting into my saddle. Right away she applied the shortening and lengthening work we've been doing at the walk to her trot. I had some of the best sitting trot I've ever had on her. We had tiny little itty bitty trot, and then she's move right away into a nice big balanced medium trot. We threw in some walk transitions and circles as well.
Next I decided to do some canter transition work. She is still struggling with downward transitions from the canter to the trot. We get them but they are anything but prompt and balanced, so I think that this will be a great exercise for improving those transitions, and we worked on this for a bit. However, she had so much energy, I decided to let her burn some of it off through a hand gallop down the long sides. I've tried this before, but she's never lengthened her canter before. Today, she opened up her stride and went for it, and boy was that fun for the both of us!
After a couple laps, I decided to bring her down the quarter line to work on cantering straight. Unless in a circle, she is very wiggly off the rail, so this is a good exercise for her to learn to go straight. As we were going down our quarterline, and she was wiggling back and forth, a funny thing happened. Instinctively I use my legs to help straighten her, and wouldn't you know it she listened to my outside leg pressure and gave me a flying lead change! I went with it and asked her to swap back. She got half of it, then I asked again and she swapped behind as well. We ended up doing it a couple more times, but I didn't wan't to push my luck. We ended on that note, and went for a nice stretchy walk to cool down. It feels great to be moving forward once again.
Happy trails and swooshing tails!