I can see clearly now, through the torrential down pour and running mascara
The 3-week streak of absolute crazy has come to an end.. and to be honest, after this weekend I'm actually a little sad. Let's flash back a bit to last weekend with Sergio Velez..
At the time, I felt so many emotions that I was truthfully, a little overwhelmed. The first two days I was frustrated.. first with my horse, then that quickly evolved to being totally in love with him and frustrated with myself. Then, on the third day at a ridiculous and unplanned hour, within 20 minutes it all made sense. Sergio had me Canter on the right lead with my reins in my left (outside hand) to solidify the theory that my horse isn't the problem - it's me. I love to hang on my inside and pull him around to the right because I have to physically work to put my left aids on.
Fast forward to the week following the clinic with Sergio, schooling at home.. Kidd had Monday and Tuesday off followed by an absolutely horrific, terrible, atriocious, hideous ride on Wednesday. I literally felt like I could not ride. It was such a hopeless, awkward feeling.. but, life goes on. Luckily on Friday I had a wonderful ride followed by a nice short hack which gave me the confidence I needed going into the clinic with someone I've never ridden with before.
So on Saturday afternoon we loaded up and headed to Jill's house for our first lesson with Gillian Sutherland. (If I didn't mention it prior or you missed it, Jill is my [relatively] regular instructor). It was a blistering +28C in the middle of my lesson and at one point I looked down and something fell from my face. Naturally, thinking it was a bug I wiped my forehead to realize it was literally sweat dripping off me. Regardless, Kidd was an absolute rock star. There's no way around it. We had such a fantastic ride and a super lesson with Gillian.
I intentially left out the fact that Sergio pin pointed my issue with my outside aids when tracking to the right (it's most noticible in Canter), just to see if she picked up on it and sure enough - within the first 5 minutes she pointed it out and it was the basis of the weekend since it's the primary thing holding us up from proceeding beyond First Level. Regardless, Gillian gave us some wonderful tools, and some really neat exercises that I've never considered!
Look how beautiful that Right Lead canter is becoming!! Now I just need to learn to ride it through my seat better
One exercise we did that I have never thought of is a Serpentine.......... in counter flexion. Like, what? That's a thing? Hell yes it is, a seriously amazing thing. I will be implementing this on a regular basis.
Another thing we worked on was developing a true, correct connection as always - but moreso what it should feel like in my hand. Kidd is naturally a quite light horse and she pointed out that a light horse is great, but how do you have a conversation with them? As I drove home on Saturday I got to thinking about this more in depth and it all came to light. A conversation is two sided, so how do you talk with your horse when they aren't there to receive the message because they're scared of the contact? Or worse, they act like a stubborn teenager and question everything you say - we want to avoid this. Gillian pointed out and compared a correct contact to that of a partially stretched bungee-cord.. obviously not one that has stretched to it's maximum but rather one that has just enough tension (that's a terrible word to explain it, but you get the point) to feel a comfortable but steady and even pressure.
Another thing she pointed out is that I need to start schooling him in a higher head set by asking the hind end to engage and lower even more. I typically warm up in a bit of a low-deep-round headset to really encourage a raised back then progress to more of a show-ring roundness as the ride progresses but she would like me to add in a higher headset now to help build the strength, as at Second Level that higher head set is required.
I've always been really bad for riding him in such a short frame due to being insecure on him (I seriously have like, the best horse in the world don't get me wrong) and both Jill and Sergio have encouraged a longer, more open frame and I think now that we've corrected that we're finally able to go back to that higher head set. I spoke to Gillian about it, and she reminded me that so long as the hind end is coming through and active, him ducking behind the vertical and sucking back isn't going to be an issue. At this point, he's getting very correct in his movement and we can start stepping it up - now I just need to be able to keep up to him!