Doing the Happy Dance. Walking on Sunshine. On Cloud Nine. I'm still smiling about my session from yesterday.
The plan was to work on catching and if that went well to go back to Touch It at the popper of the 22' and then some circle game. Under saddle, I wanted to continue Follow the Rail and begin some CS riding at the trot.
The horses were up in the runs so no need to work on catching game. Cricket was nickering to see me. Of course I'm also the one who feeds so I won't read too much into it.
I put the cookies out and Cricket was pretty good about going to the obstacles and getting her treat. I'm using the same three obstacles in no particular order. I'd like to see her asking, "which one?" before I increase the complexity. That went fine and we did some Z3 close range circle game working on transitions. She was completely unfocused, trying to return to the obstacles for treats. And then I got mad. I moved to the middle of the arena and asked her for circling on the 22', walk-trot-canter. She was pissy in the send, sloppy in the transitions and unmotivated to maintain gait. It wasn't a total disaster but it wasn't good. I quit before it got too bad.
I saddled her up, using tons of cookies to change her tacking up behavior. Knowing her as I do, it's not a saddle fit issue. I've also started a homeopathic treatment for "tummy trouble" and that may be part of the solution. Her attitude for mounting was much improved. After checking lateral flexion, a habit I'm trying to rebuild, we started with follow the rail. We're having some trouble with leg = forward so I focused as much as I could on solid halts and clear FQ/HQ yields. She was better.
We started some transitions in the walk and trot. While at the walk, I asked her for a totally freestyle sideways on the rail and she gave me two or three great steps sideways. We actually managed to trot three continuous circuits around the arena with no change of gait. Oh, and we were totally freestyle. I picked up the CS and with a bit of a "do or die" attitude, asked for the trot. Cricket and I have some emotional baggage about CS riding and this is a huge release of "control" for me.
SHE WAS PERFECT. ABSOLUTELY PERFECT.
We did a couple of bowties with the stick, again still at the walk and trot. Not perfect but it's the first time and she was relatively responsive. I'll take it!
Then I got brave. I secured the rein and asked for the trot with nothing but the CS. I don't know how many trips around the arena or how many transitions we rode. I was totally hands free on my horse and I was ecstatic. Even when she got a little fast in her trot, I was able to post with her, stroke her neck and ease her back to a slower trot.
When we turned to go to the left, my PF (pucker factor) went up. I'm less confident in this direction - goes back to my broken arm. Cricket was rushy and non-responsive to my seat. I used the CS to push her nose into the rail for downward transitions. Even when it got a little wild, I stayed off the reins. During a dwell period, I realized I'd set us both up for failure by not trusting her and assuming things would be worse. I started off again with a "no worries" attitude and she was right with me. After a soft trot and a soft halt, I dismounted.
I don't think my feet have touched the ground yet. I just cannot believe this is my horse. I cannot believe how far my confidence has come. I feel so balanced in my body and my seat - thank you Tina and Pilates! I feel cantering is not too far off. Still some emotional bridges to cross but we're on the way.