You might be thinking from the title of this post that there was a crash, an accident or something. It almost sounds like something went horribly wrong and it was my fault. Rest assured, that is not the case at all. Actually it is quite the opposite. What happened was a good thing.
I have been lusting over the idea of getting on my TB mare again since the last time I rode her. I worked her in the long lines again Monday night and she did really well. Again. Just so powerful and bold, yet at the same time moving in a light and elegant way. It seems odd to me at times, that she can move with such strength, but yet maintain her beauty and grace. Maybe I'm just horribly barn blind or a bit prejudiced here, but that's ok. I'll go with that until someone else tells me otherwise.
Wednesday night I rode her again and it was incredible. We did some trot work and she. was. awesome! For all that she is learning, she is teaching me a lot as well. I call that a WIN! I turned her out while I cleaned her stall and then I tacked her up and lunged her before getting on. Apparently I didn't let her work all of her bugs out on her own long enough, so I stopped her, got off and let her finish.
We did a LOT of walking and later some trotting. At the walk there were plenty things to work on, and not just on her. For one, she needed to feel my legs on her sides. I can sometimes ride with my lower legs sticking way out which is something I learned or a habit I picked up, long ago at the various Arab farms I worked at. At the walk this is an easy fix for me, but sometimes at the trot it can still all fall apart.
I found myself leaning forward and into the turn, essentially slumping over as we went around to the right. I reminded myself to sit up straight, don't lean forward, bring my inside (right) shoulder back where it belongs, bring my hand to my hip and WOW did that ever clean things up. What I felt was my mare 'under' me. She was bent to the inside, stepping up under herself and still light in the bridle. She was also moving over in behind and giving me lateral movement.
I also remembered- You have two legs, not just one. Just because you're asking for something with one leg, doesn't mean the other one just hangs there and is along for the ride. The outside leg keeps the shoulders from bulging or popping out in the turns and also reminds the horse to keep moving forward.
Then it came to my hands- First of all, in the lines, I take a soft hold with the inside rein and give the mare some support. It is not there to brace against, but there is contact. The outside rein is there to help keep her straight and guide her along. It's there for light tugs as half halts when needed and there to change directions and everything is switched. As I pushed my mare forward into the trot later on- I let her go and things fell apart. She wandered, she drifted and it probably looked like crap because it sure felt like crap too. This time I had a flash in my brain that Hey Stupid. When you long line her, you keep the inside rein steady with contact.
We tried the trot again. I sat up straight, brought my shoulders back, took a deep breath to relax and pushed her up into the bridle, and then let her trot. It was a little unsteady at first, but when I quieted my hands, let the outside rein relax, kept soft steady contact on the inside, kept my inside leg on her asking for bend, added the outside leg asking her to move....
She softened right up, dropped her head and BAM! There was that movement I have been seeing in the long lines. That was the ticket right there. I got that trot a lap or two around the round pen, and let her come back down to a walk. We changed directions, got it again for a lap or two and called it good. Both of us had gotten it right, going both directions and it was a good time to quit. It was a solid, good effort on both parts. No need to push our luck, ask for one more and have it all fall apart. Sometimes it is tough quitting on top. Believe me I know! I'm slowly getting used to it though. Some things don't come so quick or easy to each of us. It's another lesson learned.