Saturday, April 7, 2018


I thought this entire winter was a waste, but no.  We got some shit done.  I practiced the opening trot pattern for Second 1 in my lesson today and the words 'elastic' and 'obedient' were used.  He simply steps into shoulder in now, it's no big thing.  I can now focus on how best to use my time between B and E to make sure that second shoulder in is just as relaxed and nice as the first.  I need to square off that turn to keep him balanced and give him a mini stretch to avoid a build up of tension.  We're now working on sequences of movements instead of figuring out how to do the movement.  Rein back is much harder when I just finished doing a shoulder in and my horse is convinced I want him to go sideways again.  I need to make sure to ride the curve of the serpentine and not square things off because I'm thinking too hard about the simple change.

He was not pleased with the snow

I guess this means we are officially schooling Second level.  I'm currently scheduled to do my debut at Second level at a schooling show on May 12.  April 29 I'll be in my western gear and trying to figure out the whole western dressage thing.  We worked some of those western dressage movements today in my lesson as well and discovered that lengthen lope on a 20m circle is freaking hard.  Why aren't we doing this on a long side????  Theo's brain was blown and then he blew out the shoulder.  It's a good thing I've got a couple weeks to explain this concept to him.  It seemed so easy on paper but Trainer A had us do it once and we realized we had a problem.  Steering and lengthening at the same time just doesn't work right now.

I started giggling during my lesson because it's just so fun to ride an educated horse.  I blew one of my simple changes when I didn't reset the bend in the walk.  We'd been working counter canter on Wednesday and apparently that made an impression.  He took the cue to canter, added it to the balance that was still to the left, and picked up the counter canter.  I went to fix it and Theo just popped a flying change to get us on the right lead.

We still have a whole world of work to do, we're not looking to go out and campaign at Second or anything.  The transitions in canter are still a bit dicey, particularly down from medium.  Once we get big, he's not interested in getting small again.  We can do it in trot, but canter is just too much work.  He'd rather break to the trot or barrel around without shortening up.  Medium trot is good 60% of the time, the other 40% it's tense and braced because I'm pretty sure I'm going to bounce out of the saddle.  That one isn't him, that's all me.  He occasionally throws a temper tantrum and tries to curl and drop behind my leg because this new test is hard and he doesn't like to work hard.  I expect we'll have a world of trouble getting him to work in this new balance when we're somewhere new.

But we're there.  We're schooling the test and polishing the movements we have learned.  We're going to take it out to schooling shows and practice doing these movements in public.  I'm starting to actually believe that I'm going to get my Second level scores.  Maybe not this season, but it will happen.  I will also be getting that qualifying score for my First level freestyle.  Last time I didn't realize we were off track.  We've corrected and reset.  I feel much more confident that when we go out this year, we're going to get that 60%.  I won't move up for sanctioned shows until I've got those solid scores at First, so I'm very motivated.

Riding an educated horse is such a pleasure.  It makes the years of work worth it.  Somehow, Theo became an educated horse and I'm starting to ride him like he's educated.  I'm looking forward to spending this season learning how to present a horse at Second.  The fails should be freaking amazing for the audience.

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