July14collage.jpgKye and Sophie Kalpin were in an event today near Hockley Valley. We just got back and, believe me, we’re going nowhere this evening! He was in Pre-Training.

Kye got fifth and if he hadn’t incurred a few time penalties in Stadium Jumping he would have been third.

He had a lovely dressage test (which I filmed) and he was the only horse in Stadium Jumping who jumped when it rained…and BOY! It rained!!!! You could see that he didn’t like the water near his ears. I filmed the Stadium Jumping, trying to protect the camera from the water.

I filmed several of the cross-country jumps. There were 17 jumping efforts, plus going into and out of water.

Sophie took him to Checkmate for a school project (three weeks at a farm) this spring and he came back NOT looking like he was due to foal at any moment. He’s looking trim and he’s very much in charge of the entire world…perhaps even the universe. You should have seen him at Will O Wind today. He was “walking the walk” in between events and the other horses were sort of barely walking, no pride in their steps.

At Checkmate with Sophie he overcame his lifelong dislike of water. Thank goodness!

Sophie, Kye, Bill and Allen Kalpin (her father and the guy who scheduled the King Pony Club’s visit to Cedar Mills several years ago) went to Zanders Sod place on Highway 27 last week to school cross-country and they learned that he wasn’t terribly fond of ditches. They worked on ditches and today the ditch was his best jump cross country.

I schooled Zelador before I went to Will O Wind this morning and schooled Zeloso when I got home.

Yesterday Zelador said that he was totally confused with the aids for the Spanish Walk and the Piaffe. He kept trying to bow!!! Any time I touched his reins he wanted to do a deep bow. This is mainly an “avoidance” thing, but I definitely learned that I need to simplify things and work on each thing, individually, until there is no confusion.

When I tried to back up yesterday, he went into the bow…

So, overnight I decided today’s session would be a glorious one. I’d ask for what he could do and praise him. He obviously thought about things overnight, too. Lately I’ve been working on his flexion and bend to the left. My main tool is the counter-shoulder-in when we’re on the right rein.

Today he offered the counter-shoulder-in the instant that I had him walk along the wall on the right rein.

We did quite well and I was able to stick to my “keep things simple, stupid” plan until I stopped him and asked him to back up. He bowed all the way to the ground with the plane of his face flat on the arena floor. When the session was over I saw that the front of his face was covered in arena dust!

This was probably the deepest bow he’s ever done with me on his back!

Now what was I going to do!!!! I could forget any contact on the reins. I tried just using my voice and shifting my shoulders slightly forward (allowing him to step back easily). This almost worked. He did shift his weight backwards BEFORE plunging downward for a bow!!! I was able to sneak in some praise before I had to send him forward out of the attempt to bow.

Back to thinking, again.

I decided to do something different with the reins. Flopping them up and down seemed a bit silly, so I abandoned that idea. Moving them sideways, using Etienne’s cue for the initial piaffe schooling seemed OK. I tried it as I said, “Back” and it worked. Hmmm….now what will I use for the piaffe?

Upon pondering that conundrum I decided that backing up to engage the hind end is a good thing and sending him forward with the piaffe cue is fine.

We tried it and things worked beautifully.

Zelador is becoming an old pro at stepping sideways over the pole. I can walk him to it and go over it without any change in the walk rhythm. Soon we’ll trot to it, walk, and trot away. I latched onto something which helps me stay still and not try too hard to help him go sideways. I look at my boot (if we’re travelling left over the pole I look at my left boot) and below it I get glimpses of the pole. When I do this my weight is naturally in the direction we’re going and I don’t really do anything with my other leg or the reins. He slides sideways over the pole.

I remember seeing the You Tube videos of this piece of equipment and many of the riders have their heads down, looking to the direction of movement.

Zelador and I were able to have an almost totally sublime/harmonious session. Only need another thousand or two of them to solidify our “connection”.