Harley, dressage. Light longe to test his mood - entirely awesome. I carried a dressage whip out to the arena with me, and showed it to him from the ground, no reaction. I hopped on, and showed him again, still no reaction. I swished it around his backside, no reaction. Okay, off we go.
I tickled him with the whip a couple times, then asked him to trot. He ignored my leg, not too surprising for the time off he's had. I tapped him lightly with the whip as I added my leg. Off we go! Lots of good forward, Terrific!
Worked on holding the whip, carrying it, and occasionally using it. I found it difficult to use the whip without having to move my hands, so I was also moving the bit. Yuck. Not liking that At All. Gave him a few leg yields at trot on one long side, followed by a couple shoulder-fore and a few haunches in down the other long side. Some were good, some were very sticky. Before the canter work, I tossed the whip to the ground. No sense making it even less uncoordinated.
To the canter! I was awed. He had super light transitions, and a slow canter in each direction. Left and right were both even, and superb. I leaned forward and gave him a light pat and plenty of verbal praise after each nice transition and super canter-sets. Good Job Harley!!!
Finished out the ride with more shoulder-fore and more haunches in. The haunches in still confuses him. Shoulder-fore was pretty nice.. He's not understanding it enough yet for a full shoulder-in, so I'll take what we're getting.. Baby steps.
I set up 2 ground poles 8' apart for Sunday's work.
Sunday, Mo was up first. A nice ride. An obedient horse. MUCH easier ride than the past few. When we began our canter work, I kept a short rein on him until I felt some relaxation, then I loosened them out . About 40 minutes total, and he was barely tired. Booger... Sometimes I think he exercises himself when I'm not watching.
Harley, hunter saddle, disaster. He wasn't the problem.. I sure was. I couldn't hold my legs still at the trot no matter what I did. I hopped him through the trot poles at 4'6", then through them at 8', thinking maybe I could relax. .. I focused my body from head to toe, talking aloud of each part ... soften the back.. elbows bent and give, lower back.. easy... Thighs? Okay, there it is.. lower leg... heels down down down .. Just as soon as I'd quit talking about it, I'd stiffen up again I guess. Knees would start gripping the saddle, sliding forward more and more. At one point, I thought I was going to roll off over his shoulder, so I eased him to walk, and glanced down. Knees up OVER the saddle rolls. What?!
I talked myself into the canter on a circle. Sure glad I did. My canter? His canter? Delightful. I had my heels down, I was upright, legs solid and still. Thinking things might calm down, I went back to trot. Each time after a down transition, there went my legs again.. slip sliding away. All over the tack.
Embarassed, I cooled Harley down by walking him around the pasture outside the arena. Never before have I felt like my riding ability let my horse down so darn much. He was terrific, and patient for not killing me the whole ride. Me? I did NOT give him a fair ride... Skipped the canter poles all together, which disappointed me even more.