Had a session with Iona yesterday. Even though we started fairly early in the morning, it was very hot! Think it got up to 101F or something yesteday. However, I was determined, and thankfully a breeze and a few clouds made it possible for awhile! We played with canter circles, which ended up taking some time. She's in season, and was making a fuss about being away from Bruce. There was a bit of running off, but we weren't in a very big space, so I just persevered. I was trying for six laps. Got three easily each way, but when I went for six, she would get almost to six and then break gait. This happens so often that I wonder whether there is a change in my energy when we get close. I do my best to control it, but I still wonder...
We got six on the left rein with either a minor correction from me or self correction. Then on the right she decided to run around and leave me because Bruce and Hunter were on the move on the track. We went into a roundpen and finished pretty easily there. We were both hot and sweaty, so we called it a day and I hosed her off.
I got up nice and early this morning to beat the heat, and it worked out really well. We headed out to the playground where I had set out some half barrels for a Weave and cones for a Figure 8. I wanted to work on Weave on the 45' line. This hasn't been going well. We warmed up with some Traveling Circles. Iona is still Iona, and has her opinions, but I was left feeling like "When did we get to the place where I can move you through time and space on a longer line, and you do maintain gait? Wow! This is new and cool!" (I had much the same feeling playing with Bruce the other night. Gee - maybe I'm changing...) So we did that for awhile, and she was great! Then I realised that I needed to go shut a gate out in the pasture, so I left her happily eating grass or a few minutes.
Okay, time for the dreaded Weave!! The first thing I noticed was that she had lots of go. Excellent! The next thing I noticed was that I wasn't doing a great job of directing her. She was actually trying, but when I was unclear she just made up her own stuff, like jump the half barrel, go around two, stop and eat... I bagan to sort out my timing, and in the process I realised that the further away I am the less I have to move and the easier it is to be clear, too, I think. Again, Iona did a pretty good job of maintaining gait, and really tried for me. That, in turn, made it a lot easier to be able to work on my end of the deal. It's a completely different game than when a horse is just stopping and goofing off all the time. Then it's very hard for the human to make progress. I was really pleased with Iona and I felt we made a lot of progress on this!
After a suitable break, we moved on to Freestyle Figure 8 at trot. Or tried to. Again, Iona got really distracted by Bruce and Hunter out on the track. She was actually going around with her head in the air calling to them. If she could get that big tail in the air she'd have been doing a pretty good imitation of an Arab. I thought we'd start with a little point to point just to see where we were. Did I mention we were bareback? I was gonna use tack, but discovered a HUGE welt from a bug bite just where the girth goes.... Boy am I out of shape! Haven't been riding enough, so I'm up there slipping around on her nice shiny summer coat. Yikes!
Point to point was do-able, so I decided to just go for it. Then I remembered I was supposed to be riding with my stick. Doh! Got that, and Iona took off in her punchiest, most jarring fast trot, with a big loop on the side where the boys were and completely missing X, also in favour of going toward males, then trying to just go straight and run around at the other end of the pattern. Great. I was all over the place - trying to resist te urge to use my reins for balance, frustrated by the stick and must have left my balance point at the breakfast table. Wonderful.
This whole crazy trot thing seems to surface at times when I am bareback and/or riding with the stick. I've wondered why. I'm not always that unbalanced, but have wondered if there's a lack of confidence with the stick, a discomfort with the bareback trot, or what. Still don't know the answer, However, what I learned today was that it is okay to do something about it. I think I have been sort of like a rabbit in the headlights with it. Just gamely riding it and waiting and hoping for a change. Sometimes it does come eventually.... So after 5 or 10 minutes (felt much longer!) of awful, during which I managed to stay on, stay roughly on the pattern and saw no improvement - I had a brainstorm........I sinply asked her to slow down. Not walk. We could do that. Just trot slower and relax. And then we did it. Problem solved.
I also discovered some of the same problems with my timing on asking for a change of bend, that I found earlier on the Weave. I'm really happy with what I learned today. Sometimes I feel like I'm not progressing, because I can't figure out what I need to learn. I love breakthrough days!
Oh, yes - she never bucked.