I must admit, it's really fun to be making posts about riding my horse!
We had some torrential downpours this week and today I found the arena closely resembled a swamp. Instead of having a wonderful, large oval to work my horse, we ended up having to ride in a kind of strange circle shape to avoid all the water and squishy spots. Regardless, I set up a bunch of cones to help me with the exercises I chose for Lilly and we did the best we could with what we had to work with.
We tried hard to stick with the routine, but I couldn't find my dressage whip so I had to skip the leg lifts. Boo... And since we didn't have a long side, all my exercises were modified.
On the long sides of the arena, ride a ground-covering trot and on the corners, slow the trot - 3 laps in each direction. Since we didn't have a long side, I just worked on speeding her up and slowing her down in different areas on the circle. She was quite lazy today (yay!) so it was a bit challenging to get her to extend the trot. She wanted to go slow, and when I asked for more speed she wanted to canter.
At one end, ride a 20m circle, after leaving the circle, increase speed the length of the long side, and resume working trot at opposite end - 3 laps in each direction. This was a challenge too because of the water so we ended up doing the same exercise as before, but included the 20m circle. She likes to drift when we make circles, especially at the trot, so I set up 4 cones to shape my circle and tried to keep her inside them. It didn't work... but we're just starting! :)
Canter a 20m circle, after leaving the circle, increase speed the length of the long side, and resume a working canter at opposite end - 3 laps in each direction. Again, no long side, but we did speed up in the areas I thought were safe. She actually enjoyed the speeding up part a little too much at times and the footing had me worried, so we just did some nice cantering instead.
Spiraling In and Out: Rising trot on a 20m circle for a few circles and then spiral in until the circle is about 10m. On the way out, nudge with the inside leg when rising up and take about 3 circles to get back to 20m - Repeat twice in each direction. I totally forgot to go clockwise on this exercise and I have no idea why, so note to self for next time. This exercise played out similar to the warm up exercise, though, and instead of taking 3 circles to get back to 20m, it took us about 3 strides. Definitely have a lot of work to do where circles are concerned. I was impressed with her consistency, though. She trotted nicely on a loose rein and I didn't need to ask her to slow down. This will also be a good exercise for me because it forces me to concentrate on the circle and where we're going. I don't have time to look down and fuss over Lilly.
Sprint Lines: Space a number of cones throughout the arena using varying distances. Get into a nice canter and when you reach the first cone, sprint to the second cone. At the second cone, slow down to a working canter - 3 laps cantering, 3 laps walking; repeat the pattern three times in each direction. I tried this, but the footing just wasn't where it needs to be. So instead of speeding up and slowing down, we just cantered. She is doing excellent picking up her leads and all our transitions have been from the walk. Talk about progress!
10 laps of loose rein walking cool down. While we were cooling down, I started practicing the reinless whoa. She'll stop if I say "whoa", but she doesn't do it off my body, so we've been working on that a bit.
Rein backs over a pole. I really need to find my dressage whip because she has a difficult time picking up her hind legs to step over the poles. Those muscles need strengthening. With this exercise you can also back them up a hill, but at the old barn I didn't have a hill so I've been using the poles. In this arena, though, I have a hill, but it's pretty steep. We'll work toward being able to back up that hill!
All in all, we had a great ride. She's come a long way since I started this blog, and she's so quiet lately that I have to attribute it, at least in part, to her hooves and the fact that she's barefoot. I really noticed the change in the last couple months and the biggest change is that her shoes came off. She's so relaxed and calm and I love that about her now. She seems a lot happier and that's what it's all about.