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Slow and Steady Wins the Race

March 23, 2010

Steady and even contact sounds easy. I assure you (if you don’t know already) that it is not.  In my last three rides, Carly and I have had a breakthrough with shoulders up, pace, and a round frame.  How have we accomplished this? Steady, even contact.

Are her shoulders up? No. Okay, increase the contact, but keep it steady. Is she falling in? Guess what, I’m hanging on my inside rein.  Did she pick up the wrong lead? Surprise, too much inside rein! Is she inverted? Hmm, try keeping steady even contact.

As I focus on keeping steady and even contact, Carly (eventually) lowers more easily into a frame, leaps up into canter in a nice upwards transition, and stays straighter.  It is so easy to be crooked and let my dominant hand hold more weight or give in to her stiff side when she does not not want to flex that jaw.  But in my past few rides, as I focused on steady and even contact (with the occasional wiggle of a ring finger) the breakthrough came in our canter.  With steady, even contact,  Carly maintained a slow, collected canter wither her shoulders up. If I increased the pressure and remembered to keep a following hand, she would give to my hands and relax her head down.  It was amazing!

After three months, Carly is building up the muscle to maintain a collected frame at the canter.  I’m so proud of us.  I still need to build up some muscles in my legs – right now it is really hard for me to keep her back end moving enough that we stay in a frame at the canter. But we’re making progress and each ride, we do just a little bit better than the last.

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