Transitions!

I think we have transitioned straight from summer to winter! At least that is what it has felt like the last two mornings when I went out at 5 a.m. to feed horses. I suddenly noticed that all of them are starting to grow winter coats. Tiara doesn’t usually get a really thick coat but she does darken up quite nicely. Which really baffles me because she was born in South Dakota and then as a yearling she lived in Minnesota until I bought her as a four year old. She usually grows the least thick coat of all of them and a couple of the others came from southern Louisiana. Oh well, I’m not complaining because I would really hate to have to try and body clip her, she thinks clippers are horse eating monsters and just clipping her bridle path and trimming her up are usually a time consuming adventure.

I would like to thank Robyn for keeping us all up to date on the WEG’s. I really enjoyed reading her blogs on what was happening in Kentucky while wishing I was there instead of here watching it rain buckets all last week. This week has been great for riding though. My ring dried out pretty quickly considering all the rain we had last week and the cooler weather is a wonderful change from the long, hot summer weather we had been having. Tiara was been a very good girl lately and I really wish we could tape one of our rides at home to show the judges. Of course if we could do that, everyone would have great rides!

Over the weekend I hauled her over to ride at a new indoor ring that is only about 10 miles from my house. We rode with a couple of friends and she was very good. She was very forward without being too strong and I was able to really work on some things we have needed to do. I usually start out working her a bit long and low to encourage her to stretch over her topline and loosen her back up. She has a very short neck and likes to sometimes get a bit stuck at the base, so stretching her and doing some suppeling exercises early in the ride usually get her loosened up and swinging thru her back quite nicely. I have also been using some stuff I learned at the Felicitas Symposium to help keep her lighter in the bridle. We do a lot of turns on the forehand or haunches at the walk and this seems to really help. Then we work on a lot of transitions, starting with walk/halt/walk asking her to stay soft in the connection both up and down. Recently we have lost the ability to halt square, partly because she likes to rest her right hind in the halts so I have been working on getting her to not do that. I also realized that she was pulling into the halt instead of halting from the hind end first, so we have been working on that. Funny how you get so focused on some things that you lose sight of others. This is one of the hazards of working on your own a lot. Then we progress to walk/trot/walk trying to keep all of the transitions soft and connected and coming from the hind end. Yesterday she was really giving me some great transitions so we progressed onto trot/canter transitions and she was wonderful!

Our biggest obstacle now is strengthening the right lead canter. This is her weaker side and as I have been asking her to come up more and sit behind more she will sometimes switch leads in back or break. Once in a while she will even throw in a total lead change to the left lead canter. Usually in two parts though, first in back and then in front. But it is slowly getting better. When I first got her she couldn’t even do a complete 20 meter circle on the right lead without breaking, so I have to remind myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day and all things come in time.

One of my trainers told me that any gait is only as good as the transition preceding it and I have found this to be very true. So we have been concentrating on perfecting our transitions and most of the time it is going very well. Now if I can just get her to be as calm at a show as she was at the indoor down the road this weekend, I think we could do quite well. The Championships are just around the corner and will be here before we know it!

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