This week I was having a little trouble coming up with something to work on. Not because I’m so super fantastic that there’s no work to be done, although I wish that was the case, but more because I just couldn’t really think of something that sounded fun to do. And fun was what I was looking for after the previous two weeks of dealing with the bad beastie (who I still love dearly despite trying to ditch me in the dirt). So my ever helpful sister decided to pick an exercise for me.
I should have known it would be something difficult. She’s a hard worker when she’s in the saddle and knows the areas Luc needs to work on. Plus, there’s the revenge factor. Let’s just say I was not the world’s best little sister when we were growing up!
After a brief warm-up, which included lots of transitions and a failed attempt to get Luc moving forward in the canter, it was time to go over the poles she had set up for me. It was a simple set of canter poles spaced a nice even five strides apart. No problem. Luc and I breezed down the line and hit the distances perfectly. Take that! Oh wait, you mean that wasn’t the hard part of the exercise? Drat!
Knowing I had been having trouble getting Luc forward in the canter, she told me she wanted me to do the line in four strides instead. I laughed, thinking she wasn’t really serious. She owns Luc. She knows his go button is stuck on slow motion. Then when it seemed she was entirely serious, I looked at her and asked ‘You want how many strides?’ hoping maybe I’d heard incorrectly. When she repeated four I tried to rack my brain for anything I had done lately to piss her off. Nothing, nada, ziltch. I had been a perfect sister for the past week. So why was she asking me to do the impossible? Not that taking out a stride out of a pole line is impossible. Far from it, and is in fact something my coach growing up would have us work on frequently. It’s just that Luc is, well, Luc, and forward isn’t really his forte.
Refusing to give up before I’d even begun, Luc and I picked up a canter and I worked the entire way around the ring to get him moving forward. Equitation – what’s that? I pumped with my body. I pumped with my arms. I clucked. I kissed. I did everything I could think of to get a longer stride out of him. It worked! As if by magic, Luc lengthened his stride enough to fit the four strides in without taking a flying leap over the last pole! I was amazed. Although I really shouldn’t be because the one time Luc likes going forward is when he’s jumping, and I guess poles on the ground are close enough to count.
We then turned around and put four nice, even strides down the pole line the other way. Success! This ride was shaping up to be a great one. When Jen asked me to hold for the six strides, I thought I had it in the bag. Boy was I wrong. I tried my hardest to get a nice collected canter coming in, but the second I’d go to ask him to shorten even further in the line, he’d break to trot. It seems that I had forgotten one important thing. Just because Luc likes to go slow, doesn’t mean he likes to shorten his stride. Getting that big butt of his under him is hard work after all. After numerous failed attempts in each direction, we rolled one of the poles out ever so slightly to give Luc a bit more room. It worked! We fit the six in without too much trouble while still having to be somewhat collected.
It was a win for me, and I felt like I had really accomplished something by the end of my ride. I managed to both add and subtract from the line, and see my distances to the poles nearly every time. It seems that my sister picked the perfect exercise for both me and Luc. He was great (no mini bucks!) and I got a huge confidence boost. I’d almost say it was planned. But then that would be admitting my sister was something akin to a genius, and well, I’m not THAT great of a sister!