Wintertime Homework

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Here we are just a little over a week away from Thanksgiving.  There is a lot to be thankful for this year, but while I give thanks for everything and everyone who have been a part of my journey with Ike, I also have taken some time to reflect on what needs to be done over the winter in order to continue forward progress on our dressage adventure.

More bending – We received a lot of comments this year for the lack of bend shown on circles, half circles and trot loops.  I guess we looked like a board making an octagon rather than a supple horse traveling on a circle.  When I did manage to bend the front end of Ike, the hind end would still fishtail and swing out onto its own circle.  Hmm, perhaps Ike’s rider needs to connect that front and hind end a little better…

Better half halts – This one is all on me.  My timing is still not ideal and my attempts are not always loud enough to make any noticeable change in Ike’s movement.  “Where was your half halt?!” is probably the one statement I hear the most from Ms. C during my lessons.  “Not enough!” is a close second.

Engage the hind end more effectively – Ike is a big boy.  Most likely he has surpassed the 17 hand mark (have not measured since springtime), and he has definitely grown into an 86 inch blanket this year.  There is a lot of horse under me, in front of me, and behind me.  Sometimes as we are trucking along, Ms. C lets me know that I’ve left the hind end trailing behind.  [See above for why the hind end can’t keep up.]  Our lesson last week focused on getting Ike to get those long hind legs under his body and teaching me how to get those legs in the right place.  Phew!  That is a lot of work getting Ike to sit down and really engage.

Improving Ike’s canter rhythm and stamina – The Scooby Doo comment really stuck with me after the last show.  I know that Ike is capable of a better canter, but the boy can scoot when he gets scared or the wind blows up his tail.  The better canter did come out during our First Level debut, but it was still quick.  By the end of the test, it was all I could do to keep him from falling out of the canter.  Luckily, the cooler temperatures will make it easier to school canter for longer periods of time.  Ike is also doing his part to improve his stamina by performing wind sprints with his brother during turnout.

Master Sit Trot (or make an attempt at improving) – Well this is probably a pipe dream, but I am going to continue my efforts at improving my sit trot on Ike.  There are days that I can and days that I can’t.  I definitely cannot sit that trot lengthening stride yet.

All this wintertime homework is predicated on the hopes that we have another mild winter with little frozen precipitation.  I’m hoping that the Farmer’s Almanac is wrong. 🙂

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