‘Tis the Season to Make Progress

Last night,  in addition to bringing PLENTY of Christmas cheer to the barn with me…

Louie, the jolly holiday elf, wearing a Christmas tree hat.

Louie, the jolly holiday elf, wearing a Christmas tree hat.

…I made some BIG moves in my canter work. Last week we worked between a set of two ground poles near each end of each long wall. The idea was to canter over the pole and count the number of strides at a normal canter and then once we established a baseline, try to increase the number of strides between the poles. Even though I’m not sure I fully succeeded at performing this exercise, I was able to feel the moments when Louie was on the aids.

That lightness; that moment when the rider’s “workspace” seems to neatly shrink up and everything seems possible with just the quietest whisper of intent. Basically like horsepeople crack… once you get a taste, you just NEED more and more, you crave it.

This week’s lesson we did a number of transitions and also a lot of canter work. We did an exercise where we split the arena into three parts and sort of did canter serpentines with a few steps of walk or trot while crossing the centerline. Sometimes my instructor called for no transition in the middle so I would continue in the same direction in the same gait. This was a TOUGH exercise for me because it was so much to think about at one time: change of direction, change of speed, change of bend. I had to focus just as much on up transitions as down transitions and Louie will cut corners and break gait if I am not paying enough attention.

When we finished this exercise I was completely out of breath and exhausted (I am all kinds of out-of-shape right now) but I was also pretty darn pleased because I know for a fact that I would NEVER have been able to manage ANY part of that exercise a few months ago.

I’ll take a week off from riding over the holidays but I’m sure I’ll have a few things to share. I am working on some riding goals for 2014 and will put those up here soon.

Happy Holidays!




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