Whip ’em

It was chilly, windy, and overcast this evening. I decided I’d better ride tonight though, because tomorrow its going to rain all day.

I tacked from the off side. I’m still working on that. She’s getting better. She only jumps once, the rest of the time she just flinches.

Such a drama queen! Haha

Today I took the dressage whip with me to the arena. She’s still a bit unconvinced she needs to move promptly off the leg. I wanted some back up to my leg aid.

I’m always nervous riding a horse with a whip for the first time. I made sure to check Joy’s reaction to it from the ground several times first. Joy doesn’t care. She’s not scared of it.

Again, her basic training has been fantastic. Kudo’s to her former owners on that.

I was still a bit nervous, and over cautious, though. I’m a worrier.

The wind was blowing everything around. The pine trees sway and make crazy screeching and cracking noises. The leaves are falling from the tree’s and now the cars going by are visible from the arena. Everything is moving and swaying, creaking and growning.

Joy was was very Up, very distracted. I was having difficulty letting off her mouth. I kept reminding myself to loosen my arms, give/release. Those releases didn’t last very long, and I was back in her mouth again. I hate when I do that. I needed a ground person to yell at me today.

We spent most of the time at the walk. Some for focus, but mainly I was having issues with bend. It was either too much neck, or the bum was skiddering off to the outside, or I lost the shoulders, or… I was having all kinds of issues.

We did the square, then circles and serpentines. Lot of circles. One side of the arena is uber scary. She’ll go there, but I really have to finesse her into paying attention to me and not the scary cars flying by.

My current favorite exercise is spiral in/leg yield out.  It’s easier to do in my miniscule arena than leg yields are.

Once she was listening better, and more relaxed, I worked a little bit on shoulder-in and haunches-in. I picked up the whip for this part to back up my left leg.  I did have to touch her with the whip twice to convince her to move off my inside leg (just light), but once accomplished she gave me two really decent shoulder-fore’s to the left (the hard way).

The haunches-in (or the facsimile we do) was okay, but mainly I was very pleased that going to the left I was able to get her haunches over with only one small tiff over the right leg being on. She likes to really swing the haunches against the leg. A couple of weeks ago I was lucky to get one step of haunches-in, today I got almost the entire length of the short side of the arena.

There are still a lot of pieces to put in there to be real haunches-in and real shoulder-in’s, but as long as she gets the idea then I can build on it gradually.

I need to add… the SI’s and HI’s are only at the walk still.

Oh, and lately I’ve been playing with trot/walk transitions where you slowly slow down the trot until you walk. I learned this from the David Donnelly clinic two springs ago. You trot normal, then slow your posting until you’re almost at a walk. If the horse is still engaged and with you, then ask for the walk. If the horse starts to fall on the forehand or braces/tenses at any point, then ask for the big trot again. I like it for Joy because I think it breaks down the transition, and half-halt, and staying balanced, into smaller parts that she can understand. Plus, good gymnastic workout and teaches the horse to listen to the seat.

That was it. We didn’t trot much. I didn’t canter at all. Joy was holding it together on the scary side pretty well, and I thought I better end on a positive note.  I tend to error on the side of too little most rides. Which is why I have overweight ponies. Haha

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