What a lazy week. My mom is here visiting before both of us start school. We have been busy with moving and horse business all week so we haven’t done any vacation stuff. Actually I don’t think mom has seen much of Washington other than our apartment, the barn, Olson’s tack shop and a quick tour of the universities in all her visits. We had planned to go visit Colby and his family in the morning but mom forgot that to visit them in Canada you have to have your passport! So instead we are going to go on a tour. It will be a lazy day.
I took notes at my lessons today. We did a lot of work on what we need to do to progress to passage. Because Sjapoer is so uphill and has that powerful neck he has been able in the lower levels to do well without using his back. This won’t work with passage. So we have been spending lots of time getting him in the right position; head very low and using his back. This helps him develop those muscles so that it gets easier and easier for him over time. How do we get him to engage his back? Get his neck low. I have to keep my hands as low as I can. This takes a lot of strength particularly in women to ride your hands that low. Remember when working the bit in his mouth don’t effect the bend to the right or left.
When I ride like this I have to remember that he tends to brace and I have to give him a reward when he is correct; so I give for a split second. If I don’t give him a reward he just braces and gets combative. You want them to work for you so you have to make your horse not only feel secure that you are in control and aren’t going to run him into a wall or anything scary but also that you will reward him. I spent the whole lesson in canter and trot transitions. I was attempting to get him longer and lower. I do not ask for downward or upward transitions until his neck is where I want it to be. Be careful with the outside rein. Do not throw it away. It doesn’t support the shoulder if you throw it away. Keep it light but present.
When the neck is down that is the time to add more jump to the canter. My goal now is to train all transitions in trot and canter with his neck where I want it to be.
Recently I have spent a bit of time reflecting on the past. Maybe it is the whole graduating from high school and planning the next step of my life thing but who knows. Anyway I wanted to say thanks this week to all the trainers who have helped me in the past. First Mary Claeys, my first trainer who helped me get the courage to get back up on a horse after a bad fall. I appreciate that and all of the ‘pony’ camps you had for my friends and I. Mary Mahler thank you for the endless hours of teaching me not only about my aids but more importantly about working hard and that effort has its own rewards. Bre Dorsett, thanks for the opportunity to learn about every aspect of barn management and being a trainer. Thanks also for exploring the world of NAJYRC and the FOC with me. We had lots of fun. Jeremy thanks for giving me the faith to believe and the tenacity to focus on achieving my goals. Shauntel Bryant thanks for being the cheerleader and the ‘good cop’ that showed me the nuances of perfection. I am a product of all of you and I hope to be worthy of all the time and effort you have put into me and my riding. Thank you