Woohoo, get excited! Two posts today! Haha, so today's a better day, aside from waking up too early, which was still late...
I started the morning riding Pingu and Allegro on my own, lucky me got the two spookiest horses in the barn I think. Both of them nearly dropped out from under me when they saw the judges stand, silly geldings. Anyways, Pingu got to actually be worked with, since I need to do some figuring out on what's going on with the canter.
This is what I came up with, bucking was a poor adjective used to describe what he actually does. When Pingu canters, and is upset/pissed off, he curls his neck down too much and bobs his head more than he needs to if he were holding himself in the correct way (I would blame myself, but he does this on a loose rein) and at the same time rounds his back and doesn't track under himself with his hind legs...enough horse jargon for you? This is my theory why he does this, based on experimenting today. First, I tried cantering on a loose rein thinking that I was too hard with my hands and it was making him tight through his back, wrong- his head just gets lower, he has more leverage to pull me out of the saddle, and in fact arches his back and hops even more. Hmmm, what to try next? Ok, hands like they were, soft and following, make sure to remember that, more inside leg and passive outside leg...lets see how that goes- better, but at certain points of the circle he still yanks me out of the saddle, and when I try to sit deeper and use my calves (not spurs at this point) to keep him going he throws his head in the air and runs. Great, there's 6 young horses in here warming up to show, they're behaving like seasoned Grand Prix horses, and the ex-meter 50 jumper I'm on and I can't keep it together...Ok just trot now, try to relax and think about what you're doing...you have to end this ride with a good canter in each direction, you have to fix this now or you won't before you leave.
So Pingu and I trotted around and around, doing a nice long, low, forward trot. As he's trotting around he seems to be getting more and more relaxed, some of the horses leave, some come in, but he's not spooking at the new horses coming through the door anymore... lets try some leg yielding and some serpentines, flex him even more than in the warm up, now canter. He was a gem. Now I think I know what's been wrong, and on top of it all I have yet another reason. First, he needs to relax, when he's relaxed I can get the long low trot and successfully complete serpentines and leg yields without him flinging his head around, when I think I've done enough long and low and flexing, I need to do ten more minutes. Then Pingu can canter. The trouble all this time has been in the warm up! We've been working very hard, sometimes twice a day, and he's getting stiffer and stiffer as I neglect warming him up the specific way he needs, as he gets stiffer he needs even more of a warm up. Silly me, all this time it hasn't necessarily been my riding skills, but my horsemanship! I also noticed two small saddle rubs on his withers, no doubt from the way he canters, and my attempts to stay in the saddle. Nevertheless, this is a saddle fit problem, which may have been contributing to my issues with the canter. Pingu is getting the day off tomorrow, then I will start using an extra pad.
Now on to Allegro. Allegro was used extensively yesterday for the dressage and jumping testing, and was used 3-4 times a day to help the girls get ready. So he got a 20 minute ride today, purely to get his muscles moving. Have I ever ridden such a spooky 9 year old! Goodness, he still wasn't relaxed after the 20 minute ride. For the sake of Allegro's well being we did a long rein walk, trot, and canter, with some (attempted) long and low trot at the end. I could really feel how stiff he was, even though I hadn't ridden him before today.
Its been raining all morning, so the jumping part of the show today is certainly getting more and more interesting as the day goes on. My post this evening will give you more details about how the show goes today! Yay for the day of the young horses!! Expect pictures!
As an aside, I will work on a page on horse jargon for those of you being sweet and trying to follow the blog, but find it hard to understand, I'm going to try to keep it to glossary format so its not a lot of reading, just a reference. Keep in mind you can always ask me questions via email or facebook!