Wednesday, December 4, 2013

New Level --- UNLOCKED!

Photo Credit: Avid Visual Imagery
It’s kind of like playing a video game… Just because your proficiency at a lower level isn’t 100% doesn’t mean you can’t start working on the next level… If you can make it past the multi-negatives, I applaud your ability to keep up with my non-linear thinking!!

Sometimes, it really does feel like you passed through some threshold into the next level.

I warmed up, focusing on relaxation, rhythm, and consistent connection. When the fancy pony was stretching into my hands in a quiet long/low trot, I ceased posting. And we kept the swing! From the longer frame, I quietly gathered my pony back up, and we maintained sitting trot for an entire lap around the large outdoor arena!!

Allow me to focus a moment on how this is different from what I had been doing…
You see, I was trying to sit in my working trot. This caused a couple of problems, that looked something like this:

1) From the working trot, I sit, and the Fancy Pony says, “IT’S CANTER TIME!!!”
When I tell her, “No, in fact, it is sitting trot time” she would reply with the next challenge…

2) “I don’t like you sitting! IT’S THROW MY HEAD IN THE AIR TIME!!”

Now, sometimes, I can transition to sitting trot straight from the walk with better results, but she was still a little fussy. Additionally, while it *is* possible to leg-yield in posting trot, it is much smoother in sitting trot. I recognize that there is a prerequisite strength required before a horse can honestly handle sitting trot. I suspected part of the problem was the way I was sitting, which brings me to the difference between “sitting” and “ceasing to post.” I think it’s a fine line between ‘passively sitting’ and ‘sitting and driving’. I think I was ever-so-slightly driving while I was sitting. Because of the driving, I was losing the swing and relaxation in the trot.

With sitting trot unlocked, I was able to play with a few more fancy moves! We practiced trot-halt-back-trot-halt transitions. It got to the point where I could just breathe my way from one to the next. We’d trot into a square halt. I’d lean back a hair, and she would march backward. I’d sit up tall and close my leg, and she would push right into a trot that I could sit! It was a glorious feeling of harmony!

Once all the go buttons fell into place, we finished up with a reminder of leg-yield. It felt like ballet! Don’t get me wrong. The leg-yields weren’t perfect by any means, but they were definitely leg yields. They were identifiable and purposeful. The shoulders led, she pressed into my outside rein (most of the time), and the crossing of her hind legs was something I could actually feel!
Yeah, I usually have to ask eyes on the ground if we’re actually crossing…

We came down the centerline, leg-yielded to the wall, straightened down the long side, and trotted into a halt. No fuss. Perfect willingness. Complete attention. I stopped right there and got off. We weren’t going to get any better that night!



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