We are still having problems with Solo’s ability to show free forward movement in a 20 x 40 arena. It feels like riding an elephant in a bathtub. I don’t remember 20 x 40 being that small…..ever! He is not good at raising and moving his back in the corners so that he can shorten himself up and negotiate the dressage movements. When he gets to a turn or transition that would require him to work a bit harder in his back, he either tows down slightly onto the contact and speeds up a little round the turn, or he tosses his head, drops the contact and swings his quarters out to the side. I am doing lots of leg yielding and shoulder in to gain better control of the quarters. I am also asking for more frequent transitions and lots of halts. He likes to drop behind the leg in the downwards transition into halt, you go to ask for halt and the next thing you know, you are already there. This leaves him slow and heavy to move forward again and takes too long to re establish the new pace out the halt.
The head flipping seems to be resolving itself. I had someone email me and tell me that nose nets are now legal in dressage, however, with luck we are not going to need one. I don’t know if it’s just that he is affected by either allergies or flies at certain times of the year, or if he just goes through stages of being a bit ornery. I am still of the opinion that when he is a lot looser and more obedient in his back, he will not move his head. I am nothing if not the eternal optimist.
As always, he jumps like a bird. Soars nonchalantly over everything we set in front of him. However, his stiff back shows in his jumping too – he uses more of himself than he truly needs to, because he doesn’t always shorten up when he should. As a result he often over jumps, which looks very impressive but will not do for today’s technical cross country complexes. He has to improve on the flat and curb his enthusiasm over the fences.
He looks great and he is a happy chappy. He also sings for his supper. One day I am going to work out how to make a sound byte of his ridiculous squeaking when it’s dinner time.