Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. ~ Thomas Merton

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What's Been Going On

I've been waxing a little poetic over my horsemanship journey lately.  I decided to post about what's prompted all this philosophical pondering.

And then you'll marvel at my ability to make mountains out of molehills.

On my third ride in my Natural Performer, Cricket gave me the ride of a lifetime.  At least our lifetime together so far.  She was so eager to canter and it was a wonderful feeling.

On my fourth ride in my Natural Performer she was even better.  The next day (Sunday, December 5) she was still free and forward and was giving me the most wonderful freestyle walk to canter transitions with just a smooch.  The weather was quite chilly that day and as we were walking around the short North wall of the arena, I sniffled and she cantered!

I wasn't able to ride the rest of the week but was determined to get out there the following weekend and have another ride.  And that's when everything went pear-shaped.  Well, sort of.

I got this crazy idea in my head that I was going to canter Cricket with a carrot stick.  Not necessarily using the stick but having it in hand.  I didn't do a thorough enough ground check to see where her "forward" was and when I got on, she bucked up a little going into the canter.  I know that my perception of the event is probably quite different from the reality of the event.  But the little black rain cloud had entered the ride.  I managed to finish on an acceptable note.

So I did some thinking.  I am, after all, a LBI and thinking is what I do best.

The worst times I have with Cricket are when I'm "working on something."  I get my blinders on and I don't adjust to the feedback I receive from my horse.  I get the best results when I take what she offers and shape it, quiting when it's good.

On Saturday I went out to ride.  My only goal was to see where she was at the beginning of the ride and do something that caused her to be better at the end of the ride.  Cricket was a little stuck in her feet so I decided to tune up her forward.  She offered the first canter and I rode it, totally freestyle.  I noticed we've established a pattern of transition to the halt after a canter.  I refined our "forward" goal to "forward through the downward transition."  I was pleased with each try she made.  I quit when she went willingly to the trot, willingly to the canter, forward into a trot out of the canter and then down to the walk and halt.

On Sunday I threw a saddle on her for a brief ride and focused on the same goal of "forward" and "forward through the downward transition."  She was awesome.  Still stuck in her feet but better overall.  It took less time to get the forward and she offered less "back-up avoidance."

My new plan to get to my L3 Freestyle audition is just to ride and have fun.  In each ride, if I can practice some of the elements of the audition, shaping what Cricket offers, then we'll be okay.  Much like the organic nature of my Liberty audition, I think there will be a day when it just feels right, we'll grab a camera, roll some film and see what happens.


Tina said...

Sounds like a good plan! We have a canter to halt issue too, both online and freestyle, and need to work on adding some other gaits into the down transitions. I'm so excited for you that things are going better! I like your goal of getting some improvement based on the beginning and might have to steal it. ;)

Lisa said...

I had to come up with a way to short-circuit my pattern of going into a tail-spin when things don't go exactly as I planned them. If I can ride each ride to improve something then even in 15 minutes we can be moving forward instead of spinning our wheels.

The other key to the "organic L3 freestyle" plan is to make sure I take my camera with me!