Our weather was gorgeous. Saturday was sunny with a lovely breeze and our temperatures topped out in the low 60s. It was a beautiful breath of the Spring that is waiting on the other side of Winter.
I started my play with Bleu and Cricket on-line, together. After a little confusion, I managed a very cool circle game with Cricket cantering in front and Bleu trotting behind. I finished our tandem play with sideways from Zone 1, asking Cricket to push Bleu and help her understand. Both horses did very well and I'm excited to see the prospect of playing with them together.
I saddled Cricket and decided to ride with one rein and a stick. It went well but I just wasn't feeling like I wanted to push my envelope. I've cantered Cricket with a stick and the reins but I felt like I survived it more than enjoyed it. I've allowed her to canter while I was "hands-off" the reins and holding a stick but that was her idea. It's always good when it's her idea. I just get a little queasy when I think about cantering with just the sticks.
I decided I just wanted to have fun so I exchanged my stick and lead for clip reins and off we went.
Cricket is becoming a bit of a canter-aholic. It seems to be her favorite gait, almost as if she's making up for all the times I wouldn't let her canter. I have to admit, I'm becoming a bit of a canter junkie myself. As if I'm making up for all the times I wanted but just couldn't trust my horse.
We just sort of monkeyed around and then I got a wild idea: I decided to try out my spurs. Just to play a little with my yield isolations. I dont' fully trust the stability of my lower leg to do much else. I strapped them on, hollered out, "hey, y'all hold my beer and watch this" and got on.
Holy Crap! That little mare can MOVE! Cricket did really well. I knew she would. She's ready for this and, to some degree, so am I. We did some HQ yields, some sideways and some forehand yields. We rode around a little but I was nervous about how much the spurs were touching her and that, more than anything else, was making her cranky. I stopped and asked for a quality HQ yield to both sides and then took off the spurs.
Then we took off again. By this time, Ed was in the arena, cantering Slingshot so I decided just to follow him. Whatever he did, wherever he went - we followed. It was so much fun and it gave enough purpose to make it a little more meaningful for Cricket.
At one point, we were on a left lead, doing circles at the back of the arena. Cricket finally relaxed and just arced into the bend. It was awesome. I told her, "good girl" and she slammed on the brakes and damn near pitched me over her ears. I had to laugh, however, because I've apparently taught her that "good girl" means "get a cookie" so it's my own fault!
Next we did some weaves and I tried, oh how I tried, to do the weave at the trot but Cricket just kept breaking into the canter. I think she would have done flying changes if I'd had the coordination to ask for them! I'll admit I probably didn't try hard enough to enforce the trot. Mostly because I was laughing so much at my little LBI Energizer Bunny.
I did, finally, manage some trotting on her but the minute I thought about the canter, BAM! we were off again.
The coolest thing was that I could see how far we can go together if I can just pull some things together on my end. I rode Cricket for about 2 hours with some LONG stretches of canter and she was so ready to go. By the end of the ride, she was pretty sweaty and was breathing heavy but even in her cool out she was ready to canter at the drop of a hat.
I have a list of things to work on:
- First and foremost, either disassociate "good girl" with treats or find a different phrase to praise and encourage her while riding. I don't like my "saddle turned ejector seat."
- Get control over my body while I ride. When we canter, I still feel a little like a marionette in the hands of an epileptic. I seem to have lost all I gained from my Pilates training. Maybe my break is over and I need to get my butt back in the studio.
- As much fun as our canter is, I need to take control over the gas pedal. Having her canter when she wants is no different than having her not go when I want. It's all about who's foot is on the pedal and right now, it's not mine. I'm fortunate that I can stop her with little more than a breath out but we need also to be able to transition from one gait to the next, up AND down.