|Awkward canter shot.. but look how nicely he's holding himself up!|
I was, to be honest, equal parts nervous and excited. The best spot to ride in a group (and that has access to a mounting block for swapping steeds) is the jump field. We all know how Dino feels about the jump field! I didn't want to have to spend my entire ride arguing with him, and I didn't want his typically cranky attitude to give my friend a poor first impression of the WonerPony.
Knowing that I was likely to encounter some resistance, instead of dialing my aids up to 11 right away, I made a conscious effort to start quiet and simple. I was rewarded with a soft pony that responded to my forward aids. I did opt to head down to the dressage ring to do our warm-up canter work, which I think ended up being a good choice since it gave Dino and I the chance to get past any stickiness without worrying about the distraction of another horse or his distaste for the jump field. But after a nice hand-gallop back up to the top of the field, Dino was ready to rock & roll! Even in the jump field, with another horse, he gave me some SUPER work at all three gaits, including some very obedient trot lengthenings. We had one GLORIOUS uphill left lead canter depart, and I was feeling pretty good about the schooling session at that point! Dino even agreed to go BACK to work after several loose-rein walk breaks, which I thought was phenomenal.
|Just dressaging along... maybe I should stop staring at his head...|
Things went MUCH more smoothly for me this time around after having poked around and found most of Windows' buttons the day before. My friend was also able to give me a bit of a mini-lesson on him, which was fantastic! Just like Dino, Windows really needs help in the hind-end-straightness department, and keeping his haunches in line made such a HUGE difference in the connection. It was cool to feel that on another horse, and Windows is so wonderfully honest to ride! Whenever I screwed something up, he never got upset, he just said, "Nope, not the right way! Try again, please!" What a good horse.
My big bad habit that really showed when riding Windows is my love of hanging on the inside rein and throwing away the outside rein. I carry my hands SO unevenly, and Dino has incredibly learned to work with me that way. I can ride my own pony round & connected... just on the wrong rein! Windows, who's been taught properly to connect into the OUTSIDE rein, was confused by my Crazy Hands until my friend pointed it out to me, and helped me take a strong feel on the outside and really push Windows into that outside rein with my inside leg.
What a huge difference it made in being able to ride Windows through and connected! I think I have a new goal for the off-season: get the Crazy Hands under control!
I left the barn feeling so incredibly fortunate to have met such a great and knowledgable riding buddy, and to have the opportunity to learn from her and Windows!