I ran through training level test B for the first time on Friday and was appalled by having to do transitions AT letters. Ugh. Okay, fine, time for me to grow up a bit. I keep struggling with the left lead canter transition though - it is at K after doing a 15m trot circle at E. It's in the same relative position in the ring as the right lead transition. However, I am not struggling to the right, but I keep shoving him downhill into the corner and chasing him into the canter to the left. We went back out of the dressage ring and worked on the left lead transition till it was smooth and lovely when we were ready for it, then brought it back into the ring and tried again. It went better, but still not as well as the right lead. Huh. Hopefully I'll squeeze in a dressage lesson at some point in the next two weeks to get JT's pointers on the test. The stretchy circle immediately after trot lengthening was also kinda tough, I really need to emphasize coming back from the lengthening to start the stretch.
My difficulties with the test aside, he has felt FANTASTIC in our last few dressage schools. Just really through and forward and willing and so much fun. He's slipping behind a little bit, but he is also due to get his feet redone on Tuesday. I caved and put him in hind shoes at the beginning of September. Lo and behold he is not sore in his lumbar area anymore for his chiro adjustments. I don't understand it, nor does my wallet appreciate the $350 farrier bill, but if it makes him happy, what the hey. I've been trying to remember to do his hind leg stifle stretches AFTER riding instead of before. Humans they don't recommend stretching "cold", but it is much harder for me to remember to do after because I don't usually pick out his feet after riding (bad owner).
We're without jump saddle at this time, but fortunately a very generous, lovely friend is letting me use hers on Ben when we're at JT's barn, so that is what we're going to use for cross country schooling tomorrow.
Last week we took it easy mostly. We had a lunging day where we played a bit with hunting the jump (pole). I discovered a few weeks ago that he was not very relaxed on the lunge and that woah didn't work that well. So we purposefully had a VERY lazy, relaxed lunging session. It was fun, I could visibly see him relax after a bit. He is really very clever with his feet, and moving the circle around picking up our two ground poles at different angles was interesting to watch. He would scope out the pole and adjust his striding a ways away from it to get it right. He also very tidily trotted over the lunge whip where I had abandoned it and forgotten about it.
He's been super careful and adorable with the GY's new corgi puppy who sometimes is not very aware of horse feet. Ben just puts his nose way down and kind of snuffles him and steps very carefully around him. He is not an incredibly careful jumper in terms of rails, but it is very interesting to see how precisely careful he is with anything on the ground. Maybe part of his spookiness?
Today we hacked out to where they are harvesting some pines in the neighborhood. He was extraordinarily brave and watched them drop a few very large trees. But he also spooked/flattened himself to the ground twice when the neighbor ponies walked up to the fence while we were leaving the pasture. #horselogic
Also last week I introduced him to the balance pads. He kept shifting weight from side to side when they were under his hind feet - definitely more challenging for him than when they were under the front. I love that he is just barely downhill with the pads added in.
In addition to remembering to do his hind leg stretches post ride, I'm trying to do the bladder meridian twice a week. There was a Masterson Method post on instagram where he said that for spooky or anxious horses, it is a very useful exercise done regularly to increase relaxation and trust. I have had to repeat the first side both times, he is so busy and engaged externally that I really don't get feedback on the first go round, but the second time he does seem to turn internally and lose some of the focus on the outside world - maybe that is why it is supposed to be useful?
Mostly a rambling post lacking media, but I did want to get down some of what we've been doing lately.