After a good nights sleep and some thinking into my riding and what I am asking for from Sam I woke this morning ready to ride again. Sam wasn't very impressed that we were going to work before breakfast but today was/is meant to be another scorcher and I wanted to beat the heat.
First I lunged. I am not a fan of artificial aids but I remembered something that I used many years ago on Jackie and it certainly helped us then so I figured I would try it on Sam but on the lunge first. The name of the piece of equipment - I do not know. It is all elastic that basically goes from the bottom of the girth up between the front legs through the rings of the snaffle and around the poll. It is all one piece. I hope this makes sense. Anyway basically the idea is that when they put their heads in the air they feel pressure and need to lower it again to release the pressure. Sam figured it out on the lunge pretty quickly and his transitions from walk - trot - canter and back down again were all a lot smoother once he figured it out. I would not use this equipment often as I do not want him to learn that he could in fact lean against the elastic and pressure.
I then went and saddled him and asked for long and low and stretching walk straight away. Got it! Moved into the trot and the first transition wasn't too bad - no big leap. Still tension in the neck area but his head didn't come up as high and his first stride was from behind, Yes! He stayed pretty good in the trot in a prelim frame, soft, round, forward off my leg. I was on the left rein and I took sitting trot and he accepted this. I made the circle a little smaller and asked for a little more bend than normal and asked for canter - WAHOO no leaping into it! The left rein has generally been our really big leap into it rein. Now don't get me wrong they certainly weren't going to get an 8 in the dressage ring but compared to what we have been getting for the past few months - yes bloody fantastic. Another interesting point - I didn't put my lower leg so far back.
(Trot - canter transitions have been my bug bare nearly my whole riding life. I have no idea why but I have always pretty much well just sat there, given the aid and hoped for the best. Hoping like hell the horse didn't buck. Has a horse ever done this too me - yes but it certainly was never huge and I have always been able to ride through it. I don't know why I have always been so scared of these transitions. This time I really concentrated on what my body was doing and what I was asking for and RIDING the transition and look what happened!)
So we cantered a circle transitioned down to trot and did it again, and again it was good! and then AGAIN it was good! I changed the rein and tried to the right. On this rein he usually would stick his head out straight and stiffly canter off. Once again I took up sitting trot and put him on a slightly smaller circle, asking for a little more bend than usual. Give and take, give and take on that inside rein, inside calf on and off with the rein. Outside leg on slightly behind the girth and boom we were in canter. No where near the amount of stiffness that there usually is. We continued to canter for a circle then back to trot to try again. Again it was better and the 3rd time it was better!!!!!! I had to stop there, I figured he gave me 3 fantastic transitions on both reins - lets not push the matter and wreck what we got.
I cooled him down by taking him for a quiet walk down the road and into the reserve, around the dam - watching the little fish catching the insects on the water and having a munch now and again. I think he enjoyed the long relaxed walk home. We were about 40m from the front gate when his back shoe half came off. I was able to pull it off safely and I am glad it happened so close to home. Now I am begging that my farrier can see him tomorrow!!!
So I am hoping that we have started working out that canter transition!!!!!!!!
Sometimes a good nights sleep is all you need!