Today’s lesson was about control of the horse. At the beginning of the lesson we worked on over bending Woo to make sure that I could and that he was loose in his body. However, Lendon did not want the outside shoulder to go out, so we had to half halt on the outside rein but without blocking him on the outside as well. The next step in the warmup was to check if I could straighten the neck without losing the bend in the body or him tightening up.
Going into the work Lendon made the comment, “you can not make your correction a way of life, the correction comes and it should fix something and then you should be able to do nothing and the correction stays until you have to make a correction again.” Part of this was getting off of so many circles and riding more straight lines to trust him and know that I can take what I get on the circle and ride around the arena completely without him changing his gait. To do this she asked me to go a little forward and then collect him in one stride while asking for a quarter stretch of his neck. This was to make the horse engage his back and hindlegs while also keeping the suppleness throughout his body. If you’ve ridden with Lendon she has this analogy of bouncing a basketball under your seat and imaging that it is the horse’s handles. To do this you engage the horse’s hind end without flattening the gait or slowing the horse down. This is one of my favorite analogies because it makes you think about the collection, not as a backward or slower motion, but as a forward, compressed gait of the horse’s natural gait. It is a neat notion and one that helps with really compressing the horse and sitting the horse on the hindleg.
The next thing Lendon had us work on was our changes and making sure that I could ask for them anywhere and anytime exactly on my aid. This is what the thoroughness and the collection from earlier in the lesson built up to working on. So that he stayed right with me and on my aids. She wanted me to be able to do changes right when she said, by making Woo ready at any available moment. Then she had me go around the ring and do changes as close as I could to each other without compromising his canter and throughness.
Today was a challenging ride, but it was also a great lesson in that it forced me to address some issues that I had been avoiding. It also taught me to expect the horse to always be ready, so that you are prepared for anything. That you don’t wait and prepare for everything, but instead that the horse is already prepared.