Ben warmed up feeling GREAT! He felt supple and responsive and I think is SO happy that I am (mostly) not pulling on the right rein. He's finally starting to trust that and supple from my leg rather than stiffening to brace. Probably his chiro and acupuncture last week aren't hurting that either...
We played with forward and back at the canter. JT was emphasizing keeping my back moving even when trying to collect the canter. I asked how to half halt with my abs while doing that and she said "bear with me, we're going to go a little woo-woo but it will all make sense." She explained that basically she half-halts with her abs in the trot, but in the canter it is a ball of energy in the hips. When you extend the canter, that ball of energy moves bigger and hips move bigger. When you collect that ball moves in a smaller area, much more subtle, but still moving. We tried the canter one more time to put it into practice and the first time I asked him to collect he immediately lifted up and collected. I actually shouted out "THAT is so COOL!" It's our homework to keep playing with that feeling - the foundation for canter-walks later. The half-halt from the abs will be the downward transition itself, but the canter in place feeling with the hips holding that bouncy ball of energy in a smaller area is how you get the canter to make that transition from.
After our warm up cross rail, we got sent through 3 tiny cross rail bounces. He sucked back a bit at the first, but figured his feet out. Then we came the other way over them to a 4 stride oxer. We then turned right to come into the left curve of four one-stride cross rails (side note, I always struggle with how I'm going to write the number of jumps then the striding of the jump... is there a better system?). It went super smoothly, makes sense, he wants to drift left anyways. We came back through the one strides with the right bend and still managed to make it flow pretty well. It was just plain FUN to ride.
Then we repeated the bounces to oxer to one strides and added a left turn to another oxer, bending line left six strides to another fence, bending line right five strides to the oxer that had come after the bounces. Holy cow! The whole thing just flowed so nicely. JT's one correction was to get my work done in the six stride bending line earlier. I had kinda f'ed around for the first two strides then remembered to sit up and ride.
We then started with the one stride line, the left bending line, then right bending line, then added on a two stride to a four stride slightly angled line. He just powered right through the two stride and felt great. I sat up and lifted him up and the four stride flowed really well too.
She asked if I felt like we needed to do the two stride line because there would probably be one at the show this weekend (decided to do the Novice CT on Saturday at Majestic). Since we have epically flailed and failed in those before I said I wanted to. He was sticky and tight on the in and so we had to launch and scramble for the out. She had set them at training height though, which I think threw my eye off a bit. We still sat up and did the five strides to the next jump though. She had us come back through and we got the same tight spot in. He was much more willing to go forward that time though. We took a break and then did it a third time. I got the exact same freaking short spot, but that time without my having to push for it, he stepped up and lengthened his stride so the out felt better. Good boy Ben!!!
|Powering out - picture admittedly looks better than this felt|
It is crazy to think 3 weeks ago we were flailing around and I felt like it was going to be months before we put ourselves back together.