Brr! The sun was misleading, it was not warm today! But, at least no rain so riding was in order! Just a play in the field like we were supposed to have yesterday.
Having gone through our new stretch homework from Liz, I attempted a little in-hand to start (Fin and Kate were already in the field schooling), but my hands were icey and I lacked both the feel and the co-ordination to walk alongside, ask for forwards and flexion, and correct as required. So I hopped aboard, at least I'd eliminate the walking alongside aspect!
Once I'd mounted, naughty Quadi thought it rather too cold and windy to stand still so that I could tighten his girdle a little. We walked around for a moment till he retrieved his brain from up his bum. Sometimes that appears to be where he keeps it, I'm certain it's not always between his ears! Immediately he was forward, soft and carrying his front end properly. Ready for work :) I didn't have to do anything, just make sure I was correctly postured. Not what I was expecting at all, especially considering he found standing for girthing such an unreasonable chore! This is solely down to the fact that Kate has schooled him a few times in a row now. She is very quick with correcting aids as she's that much more balanced and experienced than I, and the penny is dropping with him that it is easier to hold himself up and not be testing every single avenue every single step! I guess some of the credit must lie with Quadi for working correctly that little bit more with every session, and for trying that little bit harder each time we ask him to step outside his comfort zone.
We just went over some suppling homework, and in doing so we tested out straightness in between school figures:
Circling, all the while aiming for true bend - this was easier today. I was observing my aids, and I'm pleased that the majority came from my seat and legs. I can now isolate the inside seatbone, control the quarters and bend with my outside leg and sustain the tempo and energy with my inside leg, all without falling over or curling in a tense ball. My hands were only really supporting what the rest of the bits of me were asking for.
Shoulder in, slowly and on three tracks - not as good as we're managed before. My hands were the problem. When I remembered(!) that I have two long legs at my disposal, I was prone to gripping up with my heel, which is the equivalent of grasping someone and shouting in their ear. At this point Quadi would come to a polite halt, and quite right too, how rude of me! For my sake I took it back a step, looking ahead and feeling, plumping for a wider rein gesture with an open wrist since I was lacking the dexterity in my fingers. Once I sat up straight, really straight, and allowed my leg to swing along with his barrel, suddenly we were shouldering-in.
Turn about the quarters, always thinking forwards - all I wanted today was to sweep a couple of strides left and right from one move to another, without losing impulsion and the feeling that with every step we could march forwards. I don't think we're anywhere near the point of restricting the hind legs to marching almost on the spot for a pirouette without either a confused halt, trying to wriggle out a shoulder or going backwards. But we can move in the direction of bend about a very small space, and do so without any knotted knitting. I'd say we can go a quarter turn effectively, so with more practice we'll aim for a 180 change of rein.
Leg yield, not an excuse to wriggle - I didn't get so far as to playing with one of my favourite exercises, which is leg yielding in and out on a circle. I merely wanted to push the buttons to test how well we could do so without the supportive bend of a circle. He was more emphatic from right to left than vice versa, presumably because my right side is dominant and easier to apply. In any case, we could do so without bending away from the direction of movement. A pleasing little milestone of progress, and no attempts from Quadi to escape.
I also wanted to use the hills to walk up and down a few times, concentrating on straightness. He was at his wriggliest here, and on the first was trying to halt on account of sheep being in the opposite field. Since he'll happily graze this fenceline at other times, I didn't deem this a decent excuse and asked politely twice to move off. When I had to ask the third time I applied leg and stick (not hard of course, but I was serious about going down that hill without nonsense), and Quadi responded with a halt and a fly buck. I asked again in the same way and this time he heeded me. A big rub on the neck for him for that!
After this we went for a stretch around the field in Kate and Fin's company, we never came out of walk but I was happy to end on a positive note and not potentially spoil such a good period of work. Kate remarked that when Quadi walks out on a free or long rein he will carry his neck level and relaxed. Obviously not when he is in full Drama Llama mode ;)
Thinking back, there are lots of aspects of ridden work I'm finding so much easier. Last summer when we were on a livery yard, I remember arguing with Kate because I was finding even holding my hand correctly an almost impossibility. I had to constantly shift my pelvis to the correct tilt, and could never maintain this for very long. When I did, I was tense because I was concentrating so hard. Quadi was dead on the right rein and tried to find every escape possible from working correctly. It's all feeling a lot better. I think I'll ask Santa for a new camera battery for Crinklemas so that I can video what we're doing and compare it to last year.
I'd like to work on the in-hand and also some clicker work. As far as the latter goes, I have plenty of books and have dabbled for specific problems or exercises. I'm more interested in the theory but am finding books and articles hard going. I need to be shown. Becky Holden is up here regularly, we need to get along to her. She was worked with Quadi before.
After our work session, I swapped Quadi into a 100g rug with neck cover. I wasn't going to, but his Amigo rainsheet is too tight in the shoulder and pressing down on his neck :s I have to say the Premier Equine rug is looking a little more snug in the front than it did when I used it a couple of months ago. It's not tight, and was rather roomy before anyway. There are no fat pads, must be topline :)
I think this will be the last schooling session for a while, I am supposed to be flying this week. Shan't hold my breath of course!