I don't know if flexion is Chemaine Hurtado's word of the month, or if Speedy and I are finally at a place where we need more of it. Either way, both of my horse's did a ton of flexing this weekend with instructions to do it about a million more times.
I am pretty sure I haven't shared this yet, but Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, recently moved to Kern County which is where Bakersfield is located. Don't get too excited. Kern County is the same size as New Jersey, but at least she's closer. That means I've had lessons twice this month with two more on the horizon. It's been amazing.
Over the weekend, she helped me see why Speedy and I have been struggling with some of the work at Second Level. The super short version is that he's lost some of the suppleness in his back that we had before he was laid up. Since he's not stretching over his top line, the canter work, particularly the simple change, has been hard for him.
That means I am going to be spending the next several weeks getting him to stretch over his top line. Basically, that means a ton of over-flexing. What Chemaine had me do in the trot work was over-flex him to the inside, always too much, and lift the outside side shoulder. When he softens, I need to push my hands forward and push him forward into that open space. In this way, he takes a longer stride and lengthens his neck.
We did a lot of the same work at the canter, particularly in the 10-meter canter circles. Speedy has been having trouble with sort of stalling out. To help that, she had me over-flex as we went into the turn but then release the inside rein while sponging the outside rein. This created a softer neck while putting him on the outside rein.
By the time we finished up the lesson, Speedy was stretching his neck forward while also taking a much longer stride. He felt better than he ever has! Hopefully, I can get the same level of suppleness on my own.
Either way, the good news is that Chemaine should be back in two weeks to continue helping me turn Speedy into a Second Level horse.