Yesterday and today I had the opportunity to ride a fantastic warmblood mare at my working student job. She is a classy bay trained to fourth level. Her name is Glory, and she had a lot to teach me. We started with walking, shoulder in and leg yields across the diagonal. She moved easily off my legs into my hands, giving me instant feedback on every shift I made, showing me what correct work was supposed to feel like. Her trot has more bounce to it than Liam’s, but not in a jarring way, more in springing way. And at the trot she was just as responsive to my every thought, and things continued to go well.
Then it was time to canter. I was warned ahead of time, sit up, half halt, ride back to front, hips open and relaxed, riding every stride. I sat up. Half halted, and felt her respond. Then I shifted into my hip, and she stepped into the most incredible canter. I have never ridden such an easy, rhythmic, collected canter before. But instantly I was being told to half halt, to soften her jaw, to bring it together more. I tried, and she broke to the trot. We started again, and this time as I half halted I kept my leg on, and it was better but then she broke again. I started again, and this time as I shifted onto my inside seat bone I focused on keeping it there under me, letting her bend around my inside leg into my outside hand and freeing up my lower legs to move her around as I used my core to hold her. A-ha! It was starting to fall into place. I focused on the feelings in my body, where my hips were and how my back and stomach moved with each stride. The feeling in my hands, and the press and release of my legs. Then we did flying lead changes. It was easy, everything happens slower when the hind legs are reaching up way under her body.
I put her away and tacked up Liam for my lesson. He has continued to improve since the videos I posted, getting stronger and stronger, able to carry himself over his back more and more easily. His walk and trot work is great, the transitions are getting smoother and quicker. As we prepared to canter, I remembered the feeling I had riding Glory. I shifted my weight onto my inside seatbone and he immediately struck off into the canter. I sat up and half halted, recreating the feeling in every part of my body. And he responded. He couldn’t hold the canter that Glory could, but he tried! He put himself together and carried himself, round and soft, moving easily off my legs and holding the lead. Around and around we went, effortlessly it seemed compared to his old canter. What a feeling!
In other news, Liam’s little brother is growing like a weed! He is still fluffy and chubby, and now he is getting coordinated enough to go running and tumbling around, and climb everything! He even uses the litter box and eats dry food now.