Yesterday was DAY 15 - the half way point of my thirty day commitment. It was also the sixth anniversary of my journey with Cricket. Six years ago I signed the bill of sale and bought a little dun QH filly. I've questioned my decision but never regretted it.
My whole goal for yesterday was to ride and breathe. I needed to see that our "bad" ride from last Monday was the fluke.
We started with Figure 8. I think yesterday was our last day on that pattern. I'm a little conflicted about our progress over this pattern. The change in Touch It was obvious. The Figure 8, not so much. But I'm going to trust the program and not try to improve the pattern. I need to focus on the weave and the next pattern in the line. Cricket was better yesterday than she has been the previous days but not quite as good as she was the first days. At least that's what I see right now. It may be that the subtle quality of her drive and draw is better, I'm just missing the improvements.
I moved on to some circle game. I should have worked on the Weave but there were too many folks in the arena so I opted to stay on one end and play as I could. I set up a "transition cone" and asked Cricket to make a lap at the trot, transition to the canter at the cone, canter a lap, transition down to the trot, trot a lap, etc. To the left, she'd drop out of the canter to a halt; to the right she wouldn't stop cantering. We started with the left and when she came down from the canter and maintained the trot, I disengaged her. To the right, she never quite got the downward transition into maintain gait. I found a spot to call it a win and allowed her to dwell at the cone.
I saddled her up and moved on to riding. We warmed up a little at the walk and then moved into the trot. I concentrated on breathing deep and rhytmically and she was relaxed and forward. I didn't feel as if I had to "control" her at all. After a few laps, I decided to take advantage of the question box that was already set up in the arena.
We started to the left and Cricket was nice and relaxed. The small circle doesn't encourage her to trot out and we're going to work on that in future sessions. For now, I just wanted her to follow the circle and ask questions in the box. At first, she took over and assumed stop in the box. When she offered to go through, I offered the stop. She took the halt and we dwelled. After that she was better. We repeated the online pattern with trot a circle, transition to the walk, walk a circle, up to the trot. She was giving me some great transitions. This may be a very useful pattern for our canter work as the transitions become predictable.
To the right she was drifting off the pattern but eventually we got it. We finished the pattern with some variety using the question box to change circles, change gait or maybe just maintain whatever we were doing.
The farrier is coming today. I was going to pull her shoes and give her a few rounds barefoot. But now my best friend and I have hit upon a plan to do some competitive trail riding. The first ride is in less than two weeks! So one more round of shoes and then some barefoot time off.