If horses could talk, that was probably Cadence last night. It’s time to gear up more with the training and get her going a little more like a big horse, so I called in the big guns and got a lesson with Stef. Which actually turned out to be more of a training ride while I watched (which is fantastic as a learning experience for me, but is sort of like the first day of school after spring break for Cadence).
It was nice to get some feedback – Stef says that Cadence is definitely much improved, much more forward and responsive, and as she spent more time riding this time she said there was a lot to like (including that canter).
She did, though, start upping the ante. We know she can be relaxed and has learned to accept contact. We also know she can try to be round and lift her back. But now it’s time to (once a week, for now) ask her to work a little harder: to use more of her topline, to keep her body straighter and more aligned through turns rather than popping her shoulder or leaning (which, to be fair, she does MUCH LESS than many horses), and to be more prompt and organized through transitions. One of the things she’s suckered me into is not worrying so much about downward transitions. Since when she started she was fairly slow, and would just STOP as soon as you even thought about asking her to slow down, I sort of felt she had good brakes, and didn’t really work on those (besides say, making her walk instead of stop dead).
So that means (surprise, surprise!) there’s a little hole in her training. It’s not a major one at this point – many horses are disorganized in downward transitions – instead of going from the canter to a trot that’s easy and comfortable to sit, they tend to lose their balance or fall a little bit into the trot. This is something that happens all the time, to much older and more trained horses than Cadence, and in her case it’s just a matter of developing the strength to do it. But it’s definitely an inversion in the process – up till now the focus has been largely on the gas pedal, now we have to tune up the brakes a bit. 🙂
And of course, as I never should forget, even when working on brakes, forward is always the answer! Leg and impulsion are half the battle in keeping a horse balanced when slowing down, right?
In other news, we have some pending interest in Miss Cadence, and I was also going to enter her in a local CT (alas! coggins and $ required for entry, which closes today, and those things are at home, so… um. we’ll see!) on the 10th, as she does need a field trip.
I also took a trip out to the CANTER farm in addition to the track last weekend, and should have some fun pictures to share within the next few days (I know people love to see the goofy woolly guys, and they had quite a time in the water hole while I was there, heh!)