Day 5 of 5 Day Dressage Bootcamp

The final day…. I didn’t want it to end! The week went by way too fast.

We started the day with Bern riding Jet. Oh, wait.. Let me back up a moment. Bern’s teaching Jet flying changes, but its been difficult because he’s 15Jet Trot and was taught that he had to stay in counter-canter no matter what. There’s been some struggle to get Jet to understand that they want him to change leads. On Friday, I’m watching Bern ride Jet as she counter canters down the long side, when suddenly, Jet does the cleanest flying change I’ve seen (in real life) in a long time. It was poetry. Beautiful.

After Bern brought Jet back to my end of the arena, we talked for a bit on how she had convinced Jet that flying changes were fun, and how she uses the counter canter to true canter to help Jet want to change. She explained that the counter to true seems more natural to the horse. We then discussed how what we were working on with Ava is preparation for the flying changes. The counter canter work to help strengthen her and increase her engagement and balance, and getting Ava really comfortably changing her bend (shoulder-in to haunches-in on a circle) when I ask (at walk or trot) so that when I change the bend in the canter then she’ll want to offer the flying change (don’t take that as gospel, I may have jumbled that all up).

Back to Jet and Bern… Bern cantered Jet the other direction. I wanted to watch what Bern did with her body so I could see how the flying change was cued. I watched as hard as I could as she approached the corner…. and after almost the entire corner I finally realized the horse had already changed leads. I never saw Bern move. I missed it! The whole thing. I missed it. I thought I was being clever and totally got no where with that. Ha!JetTrot2

After giving Jet a lot of carrots and petting, we drove over to my barn. Bern had a lesson with another client at 1:00 so I ran out and fetched the horse for her. This is a wonderful, older horse, named Doc. He’s some kind of draft cross , but has the cutest face, and a personality to die for. Since the woman riding him was a bit self-conscious about her riding, I handed Bern the horse and went and hand grazed Ava.

After the lady’s lesson finished, I tacked up Ava. We worked on counter canter, but with an emphasis on where my weight was. I thought my weight was on the left seat bone, but Ava kept breaking into a trot on the corners. Bern had me really (seemed like drastically) stand on the inside stirrup (inside of canter lead). It’s not really standing up in the stirrup, but close. As soon as I did that, Ava had no problems keeping the counter-canter through the corners. It kind of makes you realize how much your weight affects your horse. I mean, I knew that already, but I didn’t even realize I was throwing Ava off balance just because I was just slightly to the outside. It also made me realize that I need to check myself first if Ava’s not doing something I’m asking her to, because chances are my balance isn’t where it needs to be. Especially if you have a horse that’s normally a willing horse, like Ava. If she doesn’t do something, or throws a little hissy about it, most the time I’m either blocking her in some way, or throwing her balance off.

While we were discussing weight, Bern told me about a conversation she had with Hilda Gurney about a pair of shorts that display a colored light based on the riders weight placement. Ms. Gurney was saying that it could be used as a tool by trainers to help fine tune riders awareness of their weight aids. I thought it was a great idea. Especially since I’d just proven how much I need something like that. But then we decided a better system would have to be electric shocks instead of pansy little lights. I’d be shocked every other second. Here’s me: post, post, SHOCK argh!, post, post, SHOCK argh! . Hahahah!

Anyway… I finished up with Ava and threw her back in the pasture. Next on the list was Corey, who resides in the same pasture as Ava. I’ve gotten Corey out before, never had an issue, but Ava was always in the barn when I’ve gotten Corey out. I walk up to Corey, and Ava (who refuses to leave my side) pins her ears back at her. Corey walks off. I follow. Ava, the normally docile, bottom of the pack kind of girl is right behind me growling at Corey any time I get near her. I couldn’t get close to Corey! I kept trying to shoo Ava away, but she looked at me like I was waving grass at her. I’m swinging the rope at her, kicking dirt at her, everything… Even if I got her to step a few feet away and stop, as soon as I turned my back she was at my shoulder again. I finally catch hold of Corey’s halter and have my eye on Ava to see what she’s going to do… Nothing. She just calmly followed behind us.

I have a jealous horse.

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