Despite the lack of evidence on this blog, I have been riding my big red beast. In fact, his schedule has finally settled into a routine (knock on wood) that seems to be working very well for both of us. The best part is that I’m starting to see some real progress both in Miles and myself. While I’m trying to remain cautiously optimistic, sometimes it really is hard to contain my excitement. I love this horse and I can’t wait to have him back to his usual self over fences.
So, just what is our magikal routine? Well I’m so glad you asked! Right now I ride Miles 3-4 days a week on the flat, with at least one day focusing on courses of ground poles where we work primarily on pace. The rest of the time I try to switch things up and keep it interesting. Now that forward is re-installed, I’m working hard on creating transitions within gaits. The goal is to have 3 confirmed speeds at the walk, trot and canter: collected, working and extended. I’m also throwing in some baby dressage movements like turns on the haunches and forehand, leg yields and shoulder-in. All of this is going really well, so I’m usually quite pleased with our flat rides.
Our one issue though is anticipation. After we canter the first direction, I can hardly pick up my reins without Miles bursting into a trot. Or acting like a giraffe because he thinks we’re about to canter. Does anyone have any advice for this? I try to move very slowly and gradually when picking up my reins, making sure I’m not closing my leg too much. I’ve tried doing something else (like circling or framing), but I’m hesitant to be too harsh when he does move forward (albeit more than I want) because we worked so hard to get the go installed in the first place!
Anyways, in addition to Miles’s flat rides with me, he’s getting 1 lesson per week over fences… usually 1-2 per month with me and 2-3 per month with my BFF, the working student. I’m always present no matter who is in the irons because it’s really valuable for me to watch Miles go around. When he’s good, it gives me confidence and when he’s bad, it confirms that we’re doing the right thing. Plus, Miles really is improving quickly. He can look grumpy all he wants, as long as his feet go where they’re supposed to.
I rode Miles in my monthly lesson last week (on Monday, before all the holiday festivities commenced), in a big group lesson. When we first started jumping I was quite nervous and I have to admit I held my breath on the landing of our first fence. But Miles never offered any bad behavior! We did our first crossrail gymnastic (which made me SUPER nervous because I’m not very good at gymnastics and Miles tends to get rowdy…), we jumped our first 18″-2′ verticals, we trotted our first course of jumps, cantered our first jump AND cantered our first course where we GALLOPED DOWN THE LINES AND MADE THE NUMBERS.
I know, I know, I was so freaking happy. It’s still a long way away from where we used to be and where we want to be, but we’ve already some so far. I was grinning from ear to ear and Miles got heaps of treats, pats and hugs. Riding him around a course reminded me just how much I feel ‘at home’ on this horse and how much I love the hunters. I can’t wait to get back out there!!