Kachina was spookier than normal. She was pretty sure the bushes on two sides of the arena held some bush monsters, and she even did a massive stop-splay-snort-leap away from a dark footprint on the ground. Even when she wasn't actively spooking, she wanted to counter-bend to keep an eye on bush monsters and her default gear was fast.
When Kachina is tense like that I immediately default to my go-to bad habits of leaning forward and pulling. I tried my darndest to push my hands forward and sit back, but it was really tough. One thing I noticed was that if I tried to sit back all at once, the quick change of balance would throw Kachina off and make her go faster, which would cause me to tip forward again. This was a really good insight to make because I think this has been part of the problem for a long time without me realizing it. Throughout the ride I started figuring out how to slowly pull myself back with my mid-back/upper abs, so it was a more gradual correction. I also need to figure out a gradual way of correcting my hands, because forcing my hands forward caused the contact to slacken which made Kachina feel like I had deserted her. I kind of know that means I need to use more leg to push her forward into the contact, but that's way easier to say than do.
|Still happy after the ride|
(See background for monster-harboring trees/bushes)
I worked on path again, but my footprints weren't as visible any more which made it harder. I bought some cones to use as letters for my show so I think I may need to set those up to give me clear points to ride to.
I still ended up with some nice trot work, but I couldn't hold it for as long and it required more frequent small circles to get her back. I can't rely on small circles in a training level test so I need to figure out another solution.
We cantered again, using the 15m circle, and focusing on me using my legs while keeping my hands and upper body quiet. Kachina was anticipating the canter more today (I could tell she was thinking about it, but I did get her to wait for my cue most of the time). I also struggled with getting my outside leg far enough back. I think that when I know Kachina is already thinking about canter, I am afraid to use too obvious of an aid. However I really need to make it a clear aid so she doesn't think I mean canter when I ask for haunches-in in the future. I can put my leg back to the proper position without it being a strong aid. We had a couple flubs: one wrong lead, and one circle where I just could not plug my butt into the saddle. That circle was kind of funny because Kachina was unbalanced, I was struggling with my own balance so I couldn't help her, I knew that this would be the kind of situation where Kachina might run off or hunch her back and bad things could happen, Kachina was thinking the same thing I'm pretty sure, but she was generous and gave me a full circle and a half before spooking. Despite the notice, I still couldn't get my crap together in time, but I was able to sit the spook and I appreciated that Kachina really had tried to give me a chance. I pet her, went back to trot, and tried again. It took a lot of trotting and half halting, but in the end we did get some nice canter in both directions. I even came out of the circle on a straight line before doing a trot transition (like in the training level tests), and Kachina stayed straight and balanced without changing her rhythm.
|Kachina's mane used to fall mostly to the right with just about 1/4 going to the left,|
now it's almost entirely on the left (this is how her mane was coming directly from her pen),
hopefully that's a sign she's becoming more symmetrical?
My ride ended up being almost an hour in order to get the work I was looking for. In that time I gave Kachina several walk breaks where I worked on transitions between free walk and medium walk. This is something that I've been slacking on lately. If I don't practice it then Kachina will sometimes think trot as soon as I pick up my reins, which has bitten me in more than one show test. If I practice it she gets the idea quickly though and is good.
Overall, while it wasn't the best ride ever, this middling ride was super valuable for me to get more insight into our issues and figure out how to achieve good work through tension. We also did succeed in getting good canter transitions again which is a huge win right now.