This past weekend was, wonderfully, much better weather than the mind-numbing, searing heat we’ve had recently. I went to the barn Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Friday was a day of vacation from work). Buckshot and I rode all three days. Hoorah!! We worked on our patterns, our exercises and on the canter. Friday and Saturday we did great at the canter. But Sunday there were other riders in the arena at the same time and we didn’t do as well at the canter. Oh well. Two out of three rides is still quite good.
I have a set of three to five exercises and patterns written down in advance. I want to make sure we ride a variety of exercises and don’t overdo any single type of work. And we ride on the trail as well. That also gives us a change of pace. One of our first exercises is from 101 Arena Exercises by Cherry Hill. In it, the walk is alternated with the sitting trot. I start Buckshot walking around the arena, or across the arena, or on a diagonal line. After a few strides, in which he is usually a bit pokey, I ask for a bit more, and work up to a nice extended walk. Then I say “eassssyyyyy trot” which is my verbal cue for a sitting trot. Several times Buckshot gave me such a nice trot that I thought we were still walking! I asked for more trot, using my legs. I really have to concentrate so that I can discern with my body the difference between a sitting trot in which we are very much in harmony (and I am not bouncing at all in my seat), and a walk (in which I don’t bounce in my seat either). What a nice “problem” to have! The sitting trot has been a challenging gait for me. To have such a wonderful, controlled trot that I am not bouncy at all is a huge accomplishment for me. In full disclosure, I don’t stay at this wonderful trot for long. But is it me? Pushing him more because I don’t feel the bounce of a trot so I think that we aren’t trotting? It could be. As a result, I am concentrating harder so that I can tell the difference and continue to ride the sitting trot with a stable seat, and no bounce. The exercise is appx 10 strides at walk, than appx 20 strides at sitting trot, then back to walk. It is a very good exercise for us.
Then we move on to some patterns which usually utilize the entire arena. One pattern we do is the traditional figure eight, at a posting trot. I then incorporate other patterns, and then work a bit on the canter, from each direction. Even when the canter doesn’t go great, I pat him on his neck and thank him for his work. I really do appreciate his hard work with me. He can tell I’m still learning, and he is learning how I ride the canter. So it is a partnership effort. I think I am ready to get more private lessons on the canter. Private lessons from our BO help me a great deal. Having the instructor watch me and what I am doing, and giving feedback immediately helps me not to continue to do wrong things, thinking that they were okay. I will continue to work on it, and I look forward to our next reining clinic which is scheduled in a few weeks.