Getting back to the original intent of the blog, here's a summary of Sunday's Chewie Lesson, things I got from it, and things to work on for the week.
Chewie & I are solid at trot. Posting nice extended trot, just beautiful. Only thing, and I know I do it, and I'm working to quit doing it - bend the elbows! If I keep my elbows moving, he stays steady in his gait, and relaxes his whole body. I stiffen my arms, his head comes up, he'll toss it, and shorten his stride. As soon as I relax, he'll toss a little fit and go back to work. Every time I change something about my posture or energy, he fusses just a little, then either works better or worse. If I make a physical change at trot, I need to give him about 3-4 strides to adjust, then measure if it got better or not.
Me at canter left - solid light seat. Up to two point just before asking, then sit as I ask. I need to consider sliding in the saddle, and keep my elbows bending. Ask with a shorter rein, then after a few strides, lengthen the rein, and keep inside leg on. Overall, a pretty canter, that just needs practice with time. 3 canter transitions left.
Me at canter right - mess. I finally had enough canter that Robin could see it, and I now know what I'm doing. Up to two point to ask, then instead of sitting, I'm perching forward. Robin said it looked like most of my body was in front of the pommel. That explains why he gets fussy - I'm asking him to reach up to canter, then sitting on his shoulders. I have a task for the week - stay up in two point for canter right, but think "middle of the saddle", and pull my toosh back underneath the middle of my horse. Instead of putting my entire body over the pommel, at least focus on my middle. Heels don't have to be perfect, shoulders and upper body can be a bit forward - that's all fixable. Right now, the real problem is I'm sitting up on the front of the horse, and it's no wonder he can't get up & canter with confidence. Chewie's a tolerant big man to put up with me learning, but he's enduring with ease. One canter transition right.
Tonight, I will venture to the round pen with my western saddle, equipped with swells and an adorable saddle horn - those will keep me behind his shoulder. With my hands on reins & saddle horn, I can focus a bit more to the right on the canter after the transition, and perhaps get a couple circles straight canter in, to focus on body position with some saddle-aids.
Chewie's brightness amazes me. Robin rode him before I did, and it was stunning. She wasn't perfect, either, but much more solid canter seat than I have. She sat to ask for the canter, and kept the rein contact. He fussed a little bit, but quickly cooperated. It was amazing. Solid canter both leads, both directions, no issues. Very beautiful. She did walk to canter each direction, and it was stunning. To the right, he had maybe one trot stride before lifting his whole front end up into canter. Didn't take off at an unreasonable speed, didn't rear or fuss, didn't even swish his tail. To the left, again, maybe a stride or two of trot. She did canters from trot, and they were pretty, but not nearly as beautiful as the walk to canters. I could see Chewie's happiness at "getting to do his job & show off to Momma". He appreciated her riding skill level, as did I. I had a great chance to see him & how nice he moves when he is allowed. Robin believes he is nearly a push-button horse. I just need to find all the buttons, and get my body in a comfortable position to let him do the job.
Push-button... wish I had a recording of her saying that. This typed text record will have to do, but it was pretty darn incredible even hearing her say it. Push-button...