Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Earning a Cookie: Lesson Recap 10/18

No new pictures of Katai so you're getting some of Veggie at the dog park

Last night I had one of my best lessons to date. Katai seems to be switching to winter mode which for her means that she sweet, sleepy, compliant, and very, very fuzzy of course.

I like winter pony!

She was all blinky and relaxed and happy when I pulled her out of her stall so I was looking forward to a great lesson. She stayed really happy through being tacked up and normally if she’s going to be fussy she shows it when I put her saddle or her bridle on. Since she was still just perky eared and soft eyed I knew we’d have a good lesson.

As soon as we started at a walk I started getting her to stretch down and right away Jane commented that she seemed very relaxed but did seem a little stiff. Because of that Jane had me start off doing some leg yield at the walk. I was having a tough time balancing the aids on both sides of her body so she would either fall sideways with no forward or I’d get lots of forward without getting her to cross her legs at all. Jane worked with me a bit and then had me move up to trot. I was still having similar struggles and Katai was so relaxed that she kept falling back to walk so I felt like I had to over-ride which wasn’t helping anything so Jane had me switch exercises.

He's just the cutest!
First at the walk and then the trot Jane had me do the long diagonal switching between riding the diagonal straight and doing it in a leg yield. We discovered that the reason that I can’t balance my aids is that I’m pulling the outside leg off, like literally hovering it in the air like a wing. After I started to leave it on her we started to get somewhere but of course as I changed how I was asking Katai didn’t know what to do. We did it a couple of times in both directions at the trot (still on the struggle bus with this one) and Katai was getting jazzed up but not tense!! She never once lost her mind and she remained very soft and pliable, she just didn’t quite understand and because we just let her not understand and figure it out there were absolutely no meltdowns. None.

We gave her a break and worked on me at the walk for a minute and then we went to canter. Jane wanted me to try a different exercise for this. The plan was to do a leg yield from the center line and as we hit the wall cue for a canter, do one 20 meter circle and then go down the long side with a transition to trot prior to the next short side. I have to admit that I cringed a bit. I had done the first part of this exercise with L and after the first time Katai figured out the plan and completely took over prior to the canter complete with lots of tension and pony tantrums (bucking spinning and refusing to go forward). Of course at that time we couldn’t really even leg yield but still, I had some legit concerns.

I went to do it the first time, took a breath, sat and cued for the canter and other than a little leap she didn’t do a thing wrong. I had asked that we start with her tough side so while it was a bit flaily (when your human actually sits on their inside seat bone and you have to carry them with your weaker inside leg it’s really tough to canter!) but it was there! We did the full exercise three times in that direction without a break and had absolutely no pony tantrums. Even better she never once anticipated! She literally stayed relaxed and on my aids the entire time and cantered when I cued and not before. She struggled a bit each time but we just let her figure it out.

Then without a break we switched to our easy side and it was like magic! All of a sudden her leg yield was brilliant, when I sat correctly she picked up the canter right away, and we had the most gorgeous, slow, three beat canter with some jump that we’ve ever had. We did the exercise three times that direction as well and still didn’t have any anticipation or pony tantrums and then called it a bit early.

Pony got LOTS of pets and verbal praise. Both Jane and I gushed over her in the ring and when I was grooming her and she even got a treat. Adult dressage ponies get cookies after particularly good rides after all 

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