Wow, what a weekend. I'm not sure where to begin - I am still on a high as a result of a few wonderful rides on my big bay gelding.
In an effort to change it up a bit and keep things fresh in the indoor-sandbox, I decided to start playing a bit with lateral movements. Ben can already leg yield at walk, trot, and canter. And in the past I've dabbled with a bit of shoulder-fore at the walk only. So what the heck, I decided to start playing a bit more with shoulder fore again, to see if I could get a bit closer to a true shoulder-in. He is definitely beginning to get the hang of it and is pretty reliable in walk. Yesterday we tried a bit of it at trot and got a few good steps in both directions, but it is definitely much harder to do!
A couple of things I've noticed immediately with the shoulder-in: the connection to the outside rein is WAY (as in light years) better, as is to the leg. I've also noticed a lot more adjustability and lift and less pulling down on the forehand (duh). In addition, the canter work has gotten WOW-level great.
One thing that has got a bit to hell in a handbasket is the trot transition. For some reason, shoulder-in at the walk has got Ben pacing as the immediate response to my trot aid. It feels a lot like jumbled legs and confusion from the command center between the ears. I'm sure it is a temporary thing and given some time he'll figure it out.
So, Shoulder-In trials have been a mega success. In addition, because now I have a much more adjustable & light horse, the canter pole thing has really taken off. Up until yesterday I was asking Ben to canter over a pole on a 25ish meter circle. Enough to get some bend where I can influbenence the jump a bit better without confusing my leg aid for speed. He has totally taken to the canter pole. It has increased his jump in the canter, as well as his balance. Yesterday, some poles were set down as left-over from a jump course, one set was a double combination that was obviously a straight line and not on the bend. It was placed in a manner that I could start on a wide circle - which is exactly what I did. Ben was able to maintain his canter through the set up - WOW! Elation over here.
From there we were able to practice a bit of sitting trot to canter back to sitting trot and over again. That is an especially tough challenge. The initial trot-to-canter is getting pretty smooth but our back down to trot can use a bit of help. We did however get a couple of decent ones in there - much room for improvement though! f
I had really hoped to get some video of our work this weekend, so I could measure it against our past video (and also be able to match what I am seeing to the feel from the saddle). Unfortunately that did not happen, but I'm hoping to get something in the coming week or two.