I am so enjoying my lessons. Not surprisingly, we work on similar things with each mare. (Couldn’t be me, could it?! 🤣) Mostly the theme is connection. We are all seeking that steady, elastic, even connection with our horses, and it can always be better. With all of them, I tend to get stiff on the L rein and too busy/light with the R. Since most horses are stiff L and hollow R, this is not helping them to connect to that hollow R rein, and also not helping them reach softly to that stiffer L rein. Jen has been really picky that I keep the connection on the R rein, and if they are going to come up and brace, try to hold the R so they hit that rein, the hollow rein, instead of hitting the already stiff L side.
This can be confusing for me, because since they already feel hollow to the R, I’m hesitant to bend them that way. But while they are often positioning their neck to the R, that doesn’t mean they’re really bending to the R, and moving off of the R leg correctly. When they really bend around that R leg and reach and soften the L side of their neck, then that L rein becomes less stiff feeling.
While the themes are the same with each horse, the particulars are quite different, since Flow is very soft through the neck and light in the hand, and Lily and Frieda can get quite strong and rigid feeling. But if I stay committed to the same ideas about connection, Flow gets stronger in a good way, and Lily and Frieda get softer and softer.
Today Flow was already much improved in the connection from the get go. Or really I should say, I was much improved. It’s amazing how once you really focus and commit to your end of the rein, the horses get so much better on their end. Maybe 30 more years, and I’ll get that 🤦
We then worked on testing that good connection with Frieda and Flow through more collection, both in trot and canter. I was so happy with Flow today, we worked on bringing her back in trot and making her a bit hot, so that she was really eager to go out – to “release” that coiled spring. The trot with Flow is so incredibly regular, Jen was reminding me to “disturb” it every now and then in a good way. Because luckily I don’t ever have to worry about her having a rhythm problem. In canter we worked on the same idea by using some head to wall leg yield to quicken that outside hind leg. Once she was a bit sharper we collected the canter more and let her hang out in that more instense collection until she relaxed a bit. I need to remember to not “save” her with my leg when she’s getting a bit slow. When she gets to the point of almost quitting, Jen wants me to sometimes let her make the mistake and then correct her a bit more sharply, so that she understands it’s her job to keep cantering and keep the quicker tempo.
Frieda and Blush also found more power in their gaits once their connection was really solid. Stacey and Lily have had two lessons where they worked on similar concepts. They are looking awesome.