Had a FANTASTIC riding experience this week which has helped put some more pieces of the puzzle together.
As it was the weekend I had time to do some work in hand before I rode – I really do think it makes a difference :-D We did some girivolta work, some leg yield from the centre line to the long side and also a bit of reinback / walk / reinback transitions. For some reason she find it harder to keep straight on the left rein than the right.
The last few weeks I have pondering the left rein – I have figured out what was causing the issues on the right rein and have found solutions that work and I can definitely see the improvements. But on the left, where she flexes easier, in fact I have realised now overflexes to the inside I couldn’t really nail WHAT I need to improve on this rein as it does feel pretty good but not quite there……..
So on Saturday we did the inhand work and then I got on. Once in the saddle I kind of repeated the in hand work, doing girivolta and then bringing her straight onto a circle but still trying to maintain that leg yielding feeling of her pushing from the inside hind into my outside rein maintaining the inside bend from my leg. She was feeling pretty good actually so I picked my moment to ask her into trot and BAM out of nowhere I got this flipping FANTASTIC trot!! Never felt her use herself in that way before and MY GOD did it feel good! REALLY good – I cant begin to explain the feeling it gave me but boy is it addictive hahahah!
I really feel that by working on this genuine submission to the inside bend it has unlocked her inside hind leg somehow – but not only that because she is soft through the poll it has allowed the energy to go right THROUGH and the difference in her back was amazing! Now I would say she HAS been working through her back and even now I hold to that statement, but I don’t actually think she has been fully relaxed and there has been some kind of bracing / tension along the energy line of HQ’s to Hand until now.
Its difficult to know if it was the relaxed poll that allowed the hind leg / back or if it was the engagement of the hindleg that gave proper use of the back! In Antsje’s case I rather suspect it was the first ;-) Tension in the poll has always been an issue and I think finally we are starting to see it melt away.
So, back to the transition – as I asked her to go up into trot I could feel her take the weight from behind and step into trot but as she did so her back was just ‘so full’ and ‘bouyant’ it really lifted me up!! But not only that she also sought the contact with an open throatlash area and inside flexion. Now this is a BIG thing for her because she always struggles with that tiny bit of ‘nose out’ reach and can often curl back as a result. The trot was very slow but had far more OOOOOOOMPH than her usual trot and the suspension was unreal lol! So although in some way it was easier to ride because her back was so lifted and carrying, I really had to work hard to keep MY balance as I didn’t want to mess hers up lol!! It just felt DIVINE! I was so flippin pleased with her she got herself a whole heap of treats
So then we changed onto the left rein and I really struggled to get the same feeling out of the trot. So I finally figure out that on the left rein she is too flexed on the inside and is not engaging her HQ’s really at all! And when I do ask for a bit more engagement it becomes a bit like pogo stick steps and doesn’t really come forwards into the hand – not the deep activated steps that flowed through the whole of her body on the right rein!
So I really started to try and FEEL how her body wasn’t straight and what I needed to do to try and remedy this. First off, she has kind of tricked me with the inside flexion! Although she is a lot better at this ‘leg yield’ feeling as in stepping over and feeling her in the outside rein – I had kind of missed the point that she was barely IN the inside rein! Just like I struggle with the right rein in being barely in outside! I had got so fixated with the concept of the inside leg to outside rein that I it had just not dawned on me that although she shouldn’t be LEANING on the inside rein, she did actually have to take some weight into it in order for her body to be straight BIG DOH! So I spent some time asking for her neck to become straighter on this rein and she found it quite difficult. I could almost feel her HQs warping to the outside – in fact complete opposite to the issues on the right rein – which would make sense wouldn’t it? Good Lord I am slow on the uptake! So with a straighter neck but a little inside flexion I started to ask her to take more of a ‘travers’ position with her hind quarters to get some bend though the lumbar region which she had been resisting. I could tell she was finding this more difficult but once she got the idea I could feel her take a deeper step with the inside leg.
I also then had a play with walk pirouettes on this rein – at least I think I did!!! I need to get Mike to check if im doing this correct lol! But it felt like it was a good exercise in getting her to control her HQ’s and flex through the body to the inside.
I let her walk on a long rein and left at that for the day.