I managed to get the girls down to Cindy's again for some work in the arena and give them some actual s-p-a-c-e to do their jobs. Oh happy joy what a difference it makes...
The TB mare wasn't too sure about things last time. Holding her attention was not easy to do. She was looking around, cutting her corners and cheating her circles on me. Bad, just bad. This time I decided to work her in the lines so she could sort out her own inner demons and get it right on her own. Well, that was not a bad option. She started out pretty good. Still looking around but with the lines I could keep her out on her circles and keep them more rounded in shape. Still looking around and a little high strung, but manageable and not too bad.
Her trot was light, forward and springy again, just like it has been at home. Cindy agreed she would make a gorgeous driving horse when and if we ever get to that point. Right now it's saddle work, because that's what I have the tack to do. Several laps around and since the mare was doing well both directions it was time to quit. She had worked up a decent sweat so I would end it with a walk as her cool down. Problem was, she just would not settle down. My mare got so worked up about not walking that she was soon wet & sweaty all over. I wasn't letting her stop there. We don't end like that so she pranced and jigged, walked a few strides and pranced and jigged some more. She stopped staying straight in the lines and began to swing her butt in towards me as her mind focused on things outside the arena. Eventually we ended up in one corner and she did settle down some or at least enough to cool off and stop, but I know where the holes are now and what she needs to work on.
The TB mare got tied up to the fence while I rode the WB mare. Aruba is starting to move so much nicer even when I'm not on her as a result of learning how to carry herself properly. She is beginning to overstep at the walk, although I notice she is not quite there on the right side as much as the left. She is striding out and really developing what my friend refers to as 'the storm trooper walk'. It is where the horse is walking so bold and forward it becomes almost like a march. In dressage the walk is usually worth double points and can really make a difference in your scores.
Another thing I disputed with my friend is this mare reaching out and down, as in long and low work. She just never did it, not even loose or when lunging. Well guess what? Aruba found her niche and relaxed into long and low work, reaching out and down while at the trot no less. We made several laps that way going both directions. Although I praised her a lot the whole time I was also arguing with myself in my thoughts with each stride.
On one hand I was thinking- She's doing it, any time would be okay to stop. You got what you wanted, you got what you were asking for, now reward her by letting her stop. Don't push her too long, too hard or too far or it's going to turn to crap at some point and you will lose what you've gained so far. Quit while you're ahead.
Then there was the other side of my brain saying- She's doing it! LET HER! Let her do it as long as she can. The way to build up those muscles is to do this and push for a little more, a little longer each time. Take what she is giving you and accept it. Just go with it.
I was also thinking- Keep your hands wide, give her somewhere to go.... Aruba did awesome and I did end up stopping her while she was going around. She did well enough, why push it too far? That was another thing I have changed- the way I ask her for a stop. My friend had suggested some things, ways to let the horse know something is coming, then ask. Don't just fire off with a 'Whoa' and expect an abrupt halt. Sure my pony Kat does it, but that's a whole different story. He's also a lot shorter and more compact- apples & oranges.
Aruba is getting there. The more we work at things, the better things will get. Although there were no pictures from Saturday nights ride, my friend is still excited for me and glad she could help. I did send some to her the other day with Aruba under saddle. Unfortunately, I am not ON her in them. I can't be on both sides of the camera. Although they are not clear, the details don't distract from the overall and she could see that the horse is moving differently already. If I can get them posted, I will.