Ripe For The Picking
I finally got back in the saddle yesterday after what seemed like forever, although I guess a three day break isn't really that long. It just feels really long because of last week's non-riding.
Dino was feeling pretty fine for having missed a couple nights of turnout due to the summer storms, and the weather was totally perfect. The humidity has all but vanished here, making riding fun instead of an experience in how long I can participate in physical activities without passing out.
Rachel and I had been chatting lately about canter adjustability, and being able to use a more adjustable canter on course, so I decided to focus our flatwork on that.
Dino warmed up nice and loose and forward, and I let him cruise around in a half-seat before really getting down to work. The first exercise I did was to ride a "normal" forward canter down the long sides, and then put my pony together a bit on the short sides and make a 15m circle. Dino did fabulous with this to the right, and was a little weak to the left, as per usual. Then I rode a super-forward canter down the long sides, and a shorter step down the short sides. Again, the pony was right on it and so easy to adjust.
After we were both in the adjustable canter mood, I really focused on putting Dino into a good "jumping canter" and then leaving him the heck alone. I picked up the canter, pushed him up into my hand, made sure he was connected, and then let Dino carry us from there. Incredibly, I did not need to ride every single stride, and he just cruised right along! Then I went from the good medium "jumping canter" to a bigger, more forward step, and back, and forth, and back... you get the idea.
The point is that my pony is very adjustable and very rideable. When we have trouble with finding the right distance, it's all me. If I ask him for a longer or shorter distance, he'll give it to me. I just have to be present and ask for it!
AND THEN TODAY.
I practiced cantering and jumping DOWNHILL.
It was not without its rough moments, but I think we're both starting to get a feel for the downhill balance. The best part is that I wasn't anxious or scared once during our ride today. Winning!
There is a XC clinic coming up in a couple weeks with Sinead Halpin that I'd LOVE to go to, but the organizer hasn't gotten back to me on the details (i.e. cost) yet, so we'll see if that happens or not! Input from a fantastic 4* rider would sure be a nice way to start out our eventing journey.
In the meantime, I'm continuing to work a lot, so I apologize in advance for any prolonged absences!