Within just a few minutes of watching each horse and rider team, he can formulate a lesson plan to address the needs of both horse and rider for that particular day. Even though he has seen me ride more than a dozen times, he still likes to see me warm up so that he can figure out what Speedy and I need right then. While I might want to work on this or that, Christian can see whether I have a horse (or rider) ready for that skill that day.
Having ridden with Christian so many times before, I knew that we wouldn’t start with the leg yield; we would start with exercises to get Speedy’s hind end engaged. I was right. When Speedy and I started our work, he was in a rush to get somewhere. Where, I do not know, but he was intent on getting there as quickly as possible. In the past, when I’ve tried to rein in Speedy’s woohoos, Christian has admonished me to use the forward energy and make it my own idea.
We worked on the circle for a few minutes with a slower and shallower rising post and then rising higher and quicker. Before long, Speedy was really listening to my seat. Once we established a rhythm that was more clear and less “racey,” Christian had me make the circle smaller and smaller with my outside thigh.
Once our circle was small enough, Christian had me leg yield back to the rail. I really liked this exercise, as it was a leg yield that Speedy wanted to do. While leg yielding across the diagonal, Speedy can run out of forward energy and resist stepping under. Leg yielding out to the rail from a circle is easy for him because he already has that inside hind deep underneath and it’s a shorter distance to carry himself.
Once we leg yielded to the rail, Christian had me spiral back in, and then leg yield back to the rail. All the while though he reminded me to use the outside leg to spiral in while keeping my inside leg active to keep Speedy’s inside leg active. Christian yelled at me incessantly, where’s your inside leg?! Did you forget about it?! Keep riding! This was a mistake a lot of the other riders made as well. We focus on our other aids but forget to ride with the inside leg.
Christian also helped me to visualize that smaller and smaller circle by imagining a laser show in the dirt. I need to “see” the path that I am riding by looking forward at the dirt and “follow” that laser line. That was really helpful because it helped me to refine my aids. If I know exactly where I want Speedy to be (that clump of dirt, that hoof print), I can “ride” him to get there.
To my chagrin, Christian was delighted with Speedy’s change! When I groaned at the swap and brought Speedy back to the trot, Christian cheered the change and admonished me to never discourage Speedy for making the change. He said that Speedy’s changes were very clear and done quite well. Instead, I need to think canter right to hold him on the right lead in the counter canter.
Day 2 coming soon ...