These past few weeks since I have been back have been a big eye opener for me. Vitall and I have had a bit of a break through, something has just clicked between us and we seem more like a team.
Over the last little while, we have started working on the Piaff and the Passage and starting the one tempi’s. You would think when you start riding the Grand Prix you have to think more about what you’re doing, but the more you think the more you screw up. I find everything goes much smoother if I just shut my mind, feel the horse and give aids accordingly.
For example, all I think about in the one tempi’s is keeping my hands on either side of his neck. Almost like planting them there but without being stiff in the elbows so that the connection doesn’t get blocked. I relax through my elbows and have a constant contact on each rein (equal as possible) and then make sure he is straight through his body. I practise the lines on the quarter lines not the diagonal, the quarter line helps you feel if they are swinging or falling through one shoulder or not. I have also had to be very aware of what side is easier on that day. Horses are just like us, sometimes one side is easier than the other. It keeps changing with Vitall, one day it is easier to try the changes on the left and another it’s the right. Don’t be afraid to change it up, never think that you have to do a certain lead in a certain way because you will just end up getting into a war – mix it up. Occasionally, Vitall gets very hot from the changes so I usually add some half passes in or just simple transitions forward and back to get him on my aids. This also relates to single changes or the 4, 3, 2 when horses are learning them.
When it comes to the Piaff and Passage, the not thinking part comes even more into play. I tend to automatically get this feeling that I need to kick him into rhythm. In reality, all I need to do is make sure he is sharp off my leg. If I give a little leg then take it off and use my voice, he learns to continue on his own without my help. If he quits, then I make sure he goes forward a few steps then back into it with my voice and a few small half halts. This way, I’m not carrying him through it and he sustains a better rhythm. It is a really interesting feeling. You need to help a little bit more with the Passage, just a tiny bit of leg without squeezing. More like a “tick, tick” feeling or “tap, tap” with your heel, then relax and let him carry the rhythm while giving small half halts to keep him with you. This creates that cadence feeling we all love to sit on.
Aside from training this week, all of us from the barn went to a big party for Anky’s head groom, Willeke. Her brother is on the motor cross team and it was their end of season party. It was great fun and we danced from 9-2. My legs and feet were very sore the next day but it was well worth it. On Saturday, Vitall and I took the day off but we were back training on Sunday.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a Halloween party this year 🙁 but I got to see great pics of my nephew at home and talk to him on Skype so I don’t feel too left out.
Pictures are of me and Willeke and the enterance from the party and my little nephew from Halloween