Pheww

Big sigh of relief.  Yesterday, I finally rode the Training Level Test 2 test from start to finish and the best part, I remembered it.  While it was not perfect, if we can ride the test on Sunday like we did yesterday, I will be happy.  Yesterday was only my second time on Ike in the past two weeks.  Some might say that it isn’t enough time to properly prepare for a show.  I say, that is life, and I’m just going to enjoy the rides I do have.  He is young.  He is fit.  He is smart.  I don’t think the time off has hurt his training at all.  So we don’t progress as fast as others.  Dressage training is not a race.  It is a process and a journey to be enjoyed.  There is no ribbon for the first one to reach a particular level by a particular time.

It has been over a month since Ike last rode on the trailer, so today before my lesson, I decided to load Ike for a refresher.  When I tried to unsnap the lead rope to thread the chain, I couldn’t.  The snap had rusted and I couldn’t open it enough to remove it from the halter.  Sigh.  So I decided to try loading without the chain….success!  Ike and I walked right up to the trailer, I said, “Ike, load up,” and my big star walked right on like it was the easiest thing in the world.  One less thing to worry about on Sunday.

Now back to the riding part.  Today was my first lesson since before vacation and my last chance to get Ms. C’s input and have her critical eye cast upon us.  She is tough!  Nothing gets by her eagle eye.  She was pleased with our canter work today, but our trot work was not up to par.  Weight was not in the right place and Ike kept trying to snatch the reins.  Not sure if Ike had some gas or just needed to poo, but for the first part of the lesson, he’d move a bit stilted in his hind end and keep lifting his tail.  We took a brief walk break to see if that might encourage something to happen.  Gas and a bit more gas.  Then I “pushed” the gas pedal and we continued working.  The trot work improved, but I also worked harder to get and keep a good connection over his back (read: many, many, many half halts).  We did ride Test 2 from start to finish – solid canter work, okay stretch down, and a 50/50 split on the trot work.  BTW, Ike nailed our centerlines today.  Fingers crossed that we can find that 9.5 again on Sunday for our final halt.

We only practiced the Test 1 canter transitions since at the last show Ike was disunited on the left which got us a 4 from the judge.  To help him keep his weight to the inside, I hinted at a counter flexion.  Boom!  Big man rolled into that left lead canter – what a yummy transition.  The canter itself was also fabulous.  If you recall, the canter is picked up on the second half of the 20 meter circle at A.  When we hit that open side of the circle, centrifugal force still haunts us and we fall out.  The slight counter flexion just helps prevent the fall to the outside and gives us a better chance of canter success.  It is only a temporary thing until Ike develops his self carriage (grows into those legs).

Decent ride times for Sunday T-1 at 9:52 and T-2 at 10:55.  Slightly cooler temperatures predicted.  Fingers are crossed that we clear the 60% mark.  Stay tuned…

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