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Power Walking

May 21, 2010

The focus of this lesson was impulsion and getting Carly to engage her hind end.  The lesson had actually started the day earlier, but 5 minutes into it, lightning crackled over head. Carly leaped in the air with more spring than she uses over an oxer and the trainer grabbed her things and called out “We’re done. We’re not sitting under this metal roof with it lightning outside.”  When I came back for Part II the next morning, the temperature had dropped 20 degrees.  My lazy daisy was so fired up, I was afraid to push her forward, even at the walk.  As she puttered around, she would occasionally leap up in the air – not bucking, but rounding back and tossing her head between her legs. “No, no”, I told her and kept her busy with turns on the forehand and leg yielding.  Once the instructor got there, we got all down to business, though.  She moved forward beautifully, and rounded her neck in response to a light squeeze on my outside rein.

We worked on a few circles with this forward walk – the “power walk” where I tried to think of making Carly walk faster than our trainer could.  We did a few circles at this walk, focusing on using the outside rein and no inside rein.  As my trainer explained it, I wanted to go around the circle with her neck straight between her poll and withers, but with her jaw flexed enough so that I could see her eyelashes and nostril.

I felt like I was in a yoga class – wearing a little headset, the trainer was whispering in my ear, “lovely, beautiful, keep thinking about the outside rein, don’t use the inside rein”.  I love feeling like everything we are doing is soft and beautiful and flowy.  I always want that feeling, but Carly is not always willing to meet me halfway – once she gets tired, she checks out.

We moved on to a free walk after the circles. I started with my “power walk” and then pushed really hard with my seat to get her to open up and let the reins slide between my fingers so her head could drop down. I took a peek in the mirror and saw her hips swinging back and forth.

We went to trot on – at first, I messed up by trying to move right into a trot from the free walk.  All we got was an icky in between walk. We started over with the free walk, then I returned to a normal walk, and then we trotted on.  We tried a few downward transitions, too, and I learned to tighten my stomach and think about pushing my belly button up into the waistband of my pants for a nice transition into a flowy walk.

The cantering, sadly, was less than ideal.  She went around with her head in the air and the second I did a half halt on my outside rein to ask her to round up, she stopped.  I pushed with my seat and used my leg and the whip, but she ignored me.   She was getting tired by this point, and tapping her with the whip just made her balky and slower.

We are still working on getting balance at the canter, which is one part of the problem, but the other part of the problem is that I am not firm and consistent enough with getting her to surge forward off my leg.  So after this lesson, I have a few things to work on: getting her to surge forward when I use leg, cantering with side reins in the small round pen to help her develop balance, and cantering around the arena 3 times on each rein. So we have a strength, condition, and respect issue to resolve before we can happily canter circles.

This part is a little frustrating to work on, but we’ll get there.

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