|poor Miss Ron still has a nasty scar bump from her face injury this fall|
Last night I went and rode Ronnie. It was downright cold, the weather app showed -7 but it felt more like -20. Not sure why it was so bitter but man, that is going to take some adjusting! Ronnie does not care, she was covered with mud and had a good grooming before our ride. I did some leg stretches I learned on YouTube with her before we left for the arena too. YouTube is a serious gold mine for horse care and riding info. I don't know why more people don't use it. There is literally so much free information it blows my mind.
Anyways, focused on our winter goal of improving the canter, I set up a little exercise to do. I left the canter pole chute on the quarter line I used on the weekend, then I placed a single raised pole at the short end of the arena. I placed "wings" or other raised poles, perpendicular to the pole at the end of the pole, at the inside. Pic for clarity.
|simple T design, at the short end - say hi to Liam and dad also|
|the "chute" on the quarter line|
The pole was to help with a few things. Straightness. Strengthen the hind end. Help with better balanced corners thanks to guide poles. Help with seeing a distance for both Ronnie and I. Also helping with regulating pace, and straightness through the turn and long side. The pole can be used alone, or once ready, used before making the turn to the chute, then leg yielding to the wall after the chute. You can then do that exercise the opposite way, canter loop style, through the chute, back to the wall, then balanced turn over the single raised pole.
Ronnie warmed up well. Not quite as stretchy as normal, probably due to us both being frozen! I went right into trot work. Too cold to walk. She is turned out all day and hadn't been in long so walking isn't super necessary for our warm up. I did a lot of change of direction through long sweeping round turns. We did some leg yield, and also went down the chute, and over the pole in our warm stretch. Focus was mostly on rhythm, and suppleness. Using the pole often also teaches her not to worry about such things when do more jumping in the future.
From our warm up I went straight into the canter work to the left. She picked up her canter right away but the wrong lead. A simple request to change and we were on the correct lead. Starting our ride in canter has its challenges. She isn't as relaxed at the beginning of the ride, she isn't as in front of the leg. She is still not %100 confident in the canter and feels less confident at the start, therefore making her more stiff and less supple. That being said, I enjoy the surprise element and her reacting appropriately to my request early in the ride. She has much more energy and fresh muscles to work with, which help at this stage in her canter work.
To the left she is still fairly unbalanced. I focused on keeping the canter forward and active and balancing in every turn, almost making them square turns. We just go large or make large circles to start. As the working canter improved I added smaller circles, and more bend and flexion. We did the chute several times, and the canter pole alone, but not together as she just isn't as balanced to the left for this yet. I gave her a quick walk break and we cantered to the right next. She did a nice transition right into a balanced canter. To the right I can do a bit more, like shoulder fore, shallow loops, 15m circles, and the exercises I laid out. I really like the pole, turn then do a loop off teh track, and back through the chute. It requires good planning, and lots of leg through the turn, which should help in my own over fences work.
It is interesting to see also, when she is too collected or flat through the turn then we miss our distance. When she had a forward balanced canter, she would nail the distance every time. I just love adding these simple yet thought provoking exercises into our daily routine. Keeps things interesting, and you have to focus on what you are doing or you won't be successful.
|random Ronnie headshot PC: Linda Shantz|
After our right lead canter we took a good walk break. Ronnie is pretty fit, she wasn't breathing hard or sweaty at all. Her muscles fatigue before anything else, and they are getting stronger with every ride. We finished with some trot work. I didn't do much lateral work, but serpentine and 10m circles. Lots and lots of serpentine with circles mixed in. Focusing on a more dynamic trot, then changing to a stretchy trot, then back to a working trot, changing the bend and flexion with every turn, creating a new outside rein etc. I added in some lengthening on the circle and the long wall. I noticed these are already improving, which is exciting. There is less head up and running, and more moving over her back and lengthening the stride.
By the end of our ride we had a lovely working trot, and she was allowing me to ride her any which way around the arena I wanted. We ended on a nice long trot stretch, then asked for the left canter and got it right away, back to stretchy trot, and finally a nice walk to cool out. My dad rode with me and I helped him a bit with Liam. Another fun ride on Miss Ron.