Continuing the trend of awesome, I had a fantastic ride and lesson yesterday!
Earlier in the week one of my friends had a lesson with D, the new dressage trainer in town, and invited me to come watch. I really appreciated the opportunity to meet D and see her in action before having my own lesson with her. I liked what I saw so I booked a lesson myself for Sunday.
Especially since Kachina got a couple weeks off while I was in Ohio, I was hoping to get in several rides last week to prep for my lesson. Unfortunately, that didn't end up happening, partially due to one of my cats needing surgery and some attentive after-care (he is doing much better now). I only ended up being able to ride once last week. During that one ride, the weather was in the process of warming up in a very windy way (chinook). The arena roof was dripping in several spots and periodically a huge chunk of snow would slide off the roof, making a lot of noise. Kachina was understandably tense, but I was impressed that she stayed with me and gave me some good work. Still, it wasn't a good day to try adding new work (I had hoped to reintroduce canter but ended up just doing basic circles of walk and trot and called it a day).
|Wendigo after getting back from the vet
On Sunday, despite leaving myself lots of time to get to my lesson early, I ended up being late when my truck locks wouldn't unlock and then the engine wouldn't start! Luckily D was super chill about it and doesn't seem like she'll hold it against me. Kachina was awesome. She hasn't been off property since November, but she loaded easily, and settled in quickly at the lesson barn.
When D asked about me and Kachina and what we were working on, I tried my best not to make a novel out of it. I just said we were working on training level. I said we had some lateral work and some lengthens but we didn't have a much of a canter yet.
After a very brief warm-up, the lesson started. D immediately got me to use more leg and ask Kachina to push up into the contact more and give a bigger trot. This is what I've been trying to do but I'm still too tentative. Kachina really showed that she is ready for this step by responding well and not getting racy.
|Photo from Thursday's ride
Next, D had me collect up her trot on the short ends of the arena and push her into a lengthen on the long sides. I only reintroduced lengthens a few weeks ago and have just been asking for a few strides at a time on a circle, so asking for a whole long side was a bit of a jump, but Kachina did super super well at it. I could feel her propel forward with impulsion and give me a bigger loftier stride. However, D got me to focus more on collecting her more on the short sides. I had a tendency to just ask her to come back to her regular trot, when I should be asking for her to come back much more to start teaching her to sit. Lengthens are so much fun with this horse, but I have to work on the collection side too.
After that, we did some shallow leg yields. I haven't done these for quite a while and it showed, they weren't very good. D told me to weight my outside stirrup (when leg yielding out from the quarter line), and that did help.
We then moved onto canter work. Just asking for canter from a good quality trot on a 20m circle. I really had no idea what to expect, but Kachina picked up a beautiful, balanced, correct-lead canter right away! We did a couple transitions and a few circles of canter each direction and they were all as good as her canter has ever been. She made it look like she has been able to do this perfectly all along and I was crazy for saying that we had any problems. Keep in mind that I haven't cantered Kachina under saddle since October! I was hoping that all the trot work and focus on basics like bend and softness would translate into our canter work and it looks like they did! All that work is paying off! I was grinning from ear to ear and told Kachina that she was a good girl about a million times.
After the canter work, Kachina was a little amped up and wanted to run a bit at the trot. We did some trot-walk transition work to bring her back, and then ended the lesson with some stretchy trot (not her best, but she did stop racing).
|Before you step back to take a photo, maybe make sure your horse is
appropriately trained so they won't decide to walk away =P
(but doesn't she look snazzy in her new saddle pad?)
The combination of the warm arena, Kachina's dense winter coat, and the canter work, made for a very sweaty pony. It took me over an hour to get her dry enough to haul home (I am going to need to clip her at some point). Overall it was a great lesson though. It's perfect timing for D coming to the area as Kachina and I are both ready to be pushed a bit. I have another lesson scheduled for next Sunday!
P.S. When I was talking to D at the end of the lesson, she mentioned that a couple of our long sides of lengthen were basically a medium trot! I was pretty psyched to hear that, especially since I know Kachina has a lot more in her. Not all the higher level movements will come easily to us, but I'm hoping for some killer marks on medium and extended gaits sometime in our future! (Yes, I know that I am getting Way ahead of myself lol)