For day two, I was the first rider to go, so I had plenty of time to warm up in the early morning peace and quite. Surprisingly, Speedy was pretty hot to trot and as a consequence was being a bit of a stinker at C. At that end of the arena, there is a farm down below with a flock of guinea fowl. On this morning they were being fed so there was a lot of activity that he could sense and hear but couldn't really see.
Not that any of that has anything to do with the clinic, but I did spend some time getting Speedy's attention back on me. Christian likes to tell riders who have a horse who is distracted (screaming at a barn mate, being a looky loo, etc.) to make whatever the rider is doing more interesting than what the horse is trying to look at. So I worked Speedy's butt, sending him sideways (at a walk) without letting his shoulders leave the party.
That wouldn't have flown with Christian. He's all about big and forward. He also loves to make things the rider's idea, so when Speedy was being really reactive in that same corner later in the lesson, he had me use the corner for voltes and teardrops as we came down the long side. When Speedy didn't want to stay on the outside rein, we did a volte. When he was willing to stay on the outside rein, we did a teardrop back to B.
But all of that came later.
To begin, Christian asked for a 20-mete circle at B/E. This is how he starts most lessons. And like always, getting the horse forward and stepping deeply under with the inside hind leg is always the goal. Christian is all about using the inside leg to push the horse into the outside rein.
While asking that inside leg to step under, Christian had me ask for more and more inside flexion without pulling back on the rein. Instead, he wanted me to open the inside rein to get that flexion while keeping my hands low. After so many lessons with Christian, I have learned to love planting my hands on my thighs to steady the contact or to maintain a bend.
After a few minutes of this exercise, Christian gleefully explained that THIS was a proper warm up!
Once Speedy was working over his back and using his body well, Christian had me do lots of adjusting by shortening the reins and thinking about lifting Speedy's withers. Christian tries to teach riders that it isn't where the head is that matters. It's all about lifting the withers and getting that hind leg to step deeper.
Lastly, we worked on getting quality halts, another thing we've been working on diligently at home. For all of these exercises, the thing that Christian stressed was for me to really prepare before asking. Speedy's halts got more and more square the more I prepared. Keeping my seat bones in contact with the saddle also improved everything.
There were a couple of other exercises that I wanted to share, but those will have to wait a day or so. More to come ...