Today we tweaked our warmup a bit. The walk work was all the same — stretch and lateral work, but today Lendon wanted me to warmup in the canter after trotting for a bit. She reminded me that, “if you do not do something it is because you know it is a bad idea.” Normally he warms up better in the canter, but I do the trot at the beginning to put him more on my aids. Today we did the canter first with trot canter trot transitions to improve his throughness. It was a wonderful idea that really helped him with the half halt, head wag, and his throughness. Since we were in the arena today, she asked me to keep an eye on the mirror and focus on keeping his blaze vertical and steady to focus on his connection and him pushing from the hind end to the bit. Part of this is because I try to control and hold him together. The one thing I hear from Lendon overtime I ride with her is, “follow with your right arm.” To combat this habit she has me ride with my hands touching to have me notice that my arms are not moving in unison. It is inciteful for me to realize this, and also to push him into the contact to a relaxed hand. If he comes against the bit I hold against him and when he softens and gives then I follow. I find that he quickly realizes where he is supposed to be and then it is just a matter of fixing a small issue when it arrises rather than always doing the same thing and making it “a way of life” as Lendon puts it. She stated what we should do is “resist then soften and resist then soften, but to never hold.” To help Woo move more correctly into the outside rein we did some leg yields from the track to the quarter line on the other side. However, one small difference was that she wanted me to do it with a straight neck. The purpose of this exercise was to gain a better control of the shoulders and to be able to separate them and make him reach. This was quite a neat exercise in that it gives you complete control of the shoulders while trusting them with your hands — it makes you ride the leg yield completely off of the leg rather than the hand.
The next thing Lendon asked me to show her was the pirouette work I had been doing at home with my trainer Ida Mattisson. We picked up the canter and had him going all the way around the arena occasionally making voltes to help add the sit and power. Every few strides we asked a question whether it was can you lengthen or can you come back or will you drop your neck if I give my hands. The reasoning for going around the whole arena was to test the straightness and throughness from the hind end. Which are some of the key basic elements to building up the pirouettes. We also did some changes to put him on my aids and make him hotter to my leg. This was also to test his throughness and straightness. Next up were the actual pirouettes. First she had me show her what I have been doing at home regarding the actual pirouettes. I put him on a square and did quarter pirouette turns making sure he turned the outside shoulder. After I showed her Lendon asked me to do the same thing again but to collect him a few strides before the pirouette as well making sure to “bounce him like a basketball underneath my seat.” After doing this a few times she had me do a few quarter pirouette turns then go around and just do a pirouette canter bouncing him under me without shortening the stride. Just making him bend his joints more and sit.
After a long walk break we picked up the trot and went straight into the half passes which Lendon liked but just asked for a slight stretch in the half pass itself. That I needed to get him so in my outside rein and leg that I could give my inside and stretch him. This was a challenge since Woo does not like to stretch but he did well. We ended again with a stretchy trot where he wanted to seek the bit and stretched into the contact. The goal for each ride was “to be better than the day before” as Lendon put it. I think we have accomplished that goal for today!! 🙂