When I think back over 2015 I can't quite believe that we are where we are right now. Katai has become an amazing little athlete and I realized the other day how much she's developed a presence both in the arena and just in the barn. As she's developed strength and confidence I feel like she's got this confident, slightly sassy persona that makes people look when she walks into a space.
L started out riding again since we'd talked about having her start the ride for a few lessons. Since I hadn't had a lesson the Sunday before and had taken almost a week vacation I was crossing my fingers that she'd be good.
L commented that Katai was feeling excellent as she was riding. They had a couple of minor disagreements but Katai just hasn't been having tantrums anymore and so it didn't take much for her to start listening again. L played with leg yields and Katai wasn't sold on the idea of crossing over so she'd let her haunches really trail out and head at a steep angle to the wall. I mentioned that she's not getting much practice because I didn't want to teach her to do them wrong but of course that also means that she's not getting any practice. Then L tried, once, a baby half pass!!!! We were both grinning from ear to ear. L commented that Katai wasn't quite sure what to do but she tried! Of course this isn't something we're working on yet but I was pretty happy that L thought that Katai was at a point where she could play with it.
After only about 10 minutes L handed her off to me. We started off getting her at a nice slow but forward working trot. As we've worked on slowing her down it has, of course, compromised how much she is pushing forward from behind. At this lesson we started working on encouraging a more active, pushing hind leg. Once we had her pushing from behind L had me start pushing her trot across the diagonal. The first couple of times she just sped up and then we actually got a lengthening! The first time Katai broke into a canter but got lots of rewards for such an incredible effort and a she got a nice walk break. Then we tried again and got a canter a couple of times but eventually got another good one all of the way across! L commented that it was a 2nd level lengthening!!! I really can't even imagine how we got from sewing machine trot to a 2nd level lengthening in one year.
Finally we did a little bit of canter and it was good! As she develops strength it's getting better and better without too much fuss. Her transitions are still messy but mostly that's me. Something to practice for this year ;-)
My homework is to do a better job of supporting her with my outside rein but remember to give the inside rein more often. It's easier for me to do this to the right (not too surprising) but I really struggle to the left where I tend to want to give the outside rein and hold the inside.
This week the plan, again, is to ride Tuesday - Wednesday and Saturday so that I've got 5 rides in. I may lunge instead at least one day because that seems to be really helping her find her slower trot.