It was a pretty eventful weekend for Miss Cadence and I… learned a couple things, and it was pretty positive!
On Saturday I got on for a ride and I had really intended it to be fairly easy, but we had some issues to work through. On the flat, she seems to have picked up two little problems:
1. Ducking/curling behind the bit. I had asked our trainer about this last week, and my instructions were to really go FORWARD whenever that happened – not to let off the contact (rewarding her and thus training her to do it more), but to just push forward (and hey, it’s ok if the nose comes straight up in the air, just keep the contact the same – easier said than done)
2. A new trick of leaning/diving into turns a bit. I’m not sure where this came from, it wasn’t there a week ago, but my tactic here was to slow everything down. Slowing down makes it easier to get her off the forehand a little so we aren’t dragging, and allows me to use my inside leg for better effect. I can also keep my body more controlled when sitting a slower trot, and it lets me break things down better.
Once we had that (mostly) ironed out, I thought I’d take her over a crossrail or two, since I only really do that about once per week. Unfortunately the usual “la-di-dah, ok sure!” wasn’t there, and she kept trying to out. I always, always, always blame myself first in these situations, but also had to get after her a bit about it. Unfortunately, though we went over a few times it seemed like a battle, which isn’t normal, and she seemed to be getting a little flustered (truth be told, so was I).
So again, this ride was largely about how to take a step back, and put the pieces together so things are easier. I got off and changed the crossrail to a tiny vertical (raised pole, really). It’s easier to look at – it’s simple, no confusion of added rails. Since she is very good at trot poles, I added placing poles on either side (sort of a very basic mini-gymnastic). I gave her a few minutes to relax, then we approached that going her “good” direction first. After taking that minute to regroup, and making things as simple and straightforward as possible (and giving ME a minute to regroup as well), she was perfect, we were straight, and it was very easy. I turned around and we tried it the “bad” way, and it was just as good, so I stopped there and praised her as profusely as I could. Many carrots were fed.
Sunday was her first official outing, though we hadn’t entered anything. There was a nice little combined test down the road at the Carroll County Equestrian Center, and as a friend from the barn was going I thought it would be perfect to tag along. As my previous “fisher price my first outing” experiences usually involved Allie being there to coach me through any nerve-induced-monkey riding, I went with the intent of just chilling out. I brought tack but did not make riding the central focus. Instead, we walked around, checked things out, and ate lots of grass. There were some moments where she was definitely nervous, so I kept her in a comfort zone close to the trailer for a bit. We’d walk around, and gradually expand our radius till we were walking around the entire place and she was curious about everything instead of nervous.
After a little while it became apparent she was fine, and so I did hop on. She was great riding past the two rings and tents and various other distractions, and then we rode around the dressage warmup area for a few minutes (making sure to stay on the periphery for the most part, out of the way of the rest of the riders). She walked, trotted, and cantered perfectly well in both directions, perhaps a little more distracted than normal but very agreeable and quiet.
(photo courtesy of my friend’s dad. Thanks dad!)
She actually was so good I was kicking myself for not having entered. She’d have done fine!
All in all, a lot of stuff going on this weekend for her and for me. I, as always, have a large plate of things to think about and need to line up another lesson for us. 🙂
(oh yeah, she grew again. I had been all pleased with weight gain, then she seemed all gangly and spindly, so I measured her… and congrats Miss C, you are now over 16 hands, not just a hair under like you were last time. Goof.)