Saturday, August 7, 2010

Short, Long and Sideways

Dawn and I worked again this morning. We used our walk warm-up time to review our lateral work - turns on the forehand and haunches and also added side-pass. She's done this work before, so she's picking it up again fairly quickly. We did a number of straight lines, working on rhythm, straightness and softness, and making sure we had a nice strong walk going, and threw in lateral moves from time to time to change direction. I did most of the work away from the area sides. We threw in walking over poles from time to time.

Before I got on, we'd set three cones equally spaced down one long diagonal. As we started our trot work, we did circles and figures using the cones as focal points. Dawn was more up than usual, perhaps because she's getting fitter and didn't get much work yesterday due to the farrier visit, and also because it was cooler. Then we did a number of sets of shortening and lengthening trot, while maintaining the same rhythm. Then, since side-pass at the walk had gone so well, we moved into working on leg-yield at the trot. I used the cones on the diagonal to leg-yield between - so we would trot down the diagonal on one side of the cones, leg-yield to the other side and continue. Next, we'll leg-yield from one side to the other and then back again on the same pass. We also did some leg-yields from the quarter line back to the long side.

All of this went pretty well - she was doing the exercises successfully at the trot - but I never got the relaxation and "throughness" that I wanted - she was pushing pretty well from behind but the connection from nose to tail wasn't really there. I attribute that to my being a bit stiff - my back's a little sore - and also to the combination of her upness and that I didn't get relaxation properly established before doing lateral work. The lateral work tends to get her a little bit wound up, perhaps because I'm overcuing. So, next work session, we'll work as long as necessary at the medium trot until we get relaxation and softness, and only then move to varying the stride length, and follow that with more lateral work if the relaxation and softness were maintained when shortening and lengthening the stride. In the lateral work, I need to be careful to cue when the correct hind leg that will step under is leaving the ground, which will allow my cues to be softer and more precise.

I went a little quicker with the work than I probably should have this morning - no harm done but it was a good reminder to be thorough in getting the right feel at each step in the work.


  1. Once again, good exercises. As you use the lateral work to change rein, remember to ride her new inside hind leg to the new outside rein. This will help keep the connection you are seeking.

    Slight lateral exercises like that can also help transitions. By displacing the hind end, you can encourage her to not to brace against the movement.

    Excellent progress again and another lesson learned about taking your time. You are really doing an excellent job with her. Hope your back feels better....

  2. That rambunctious header is great!
    Excellent work and great post full!

  3. OH I like the sound of some of those exercises - I will steal the one with the cones along the diagonal. HHMMM I see where you are coming from with the 'not through'


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