I’m so excited with how Dominica has finished this week. In my previous blog I mentioned that since my lesson I’ve been focussing on riding her truly straight in her body and me maintaining a better outside contact. I also included in it a blog report from an Isabell Werth demo, in it she says, ‘especially in the canter, the outside is the most important’ and this has been my mantra for the week.
There’s never been any doubt about the quality of Dominica’s canter. Mechanically she’s so naturally correct and I’d say her canter is her best pace. The issue has been that it is so powerful and she is still young and wobbly, especially in the transitions, her hind leg steps through so far underneath her, she’s left wondering what the bloody hell just happened! From my vantage point, the canter transitions have felt very much the same as I imagine it feels to sit on a dolphin as it jumps up out of the water.
Pre lesson I’d been dealing with this, by letting her find her own way through the transition. Adopting a light seat and allowing her to find her own balance , rather than trying to interfere and worrying her more. Also schooling in a large field meant I was afforded the luxury of allowing her to canter in long straight lines and 50m circles, again letting her find her own balance and keeping a light seat. For once, my crappy training facilities actually came in handy! Over time they have improved massively and she’s got much more relaxed with them and they’ve become calmer and less like an Olympic gymnastic tumbling routine. If I had an arena or a smaller drier field, I would love to have been able to work through this on the lunge too, but the ground has just been too soggy and the pro’s of achieving polished canter transitions sooner are just not worth the injury risk of trying to lunge her in a swamp. A lot of it is also to do with her strength and that’s not something which can be rushed.
Post lesson and the Werth word’s of wisdom, the situation has improved ten fold. Following on from my work on straightness at the start of the week, on Thursday and Friday I started to focus more on the canter. I worked on starting to do the odd strides sitting the trot, focussing on me sitting square in the saddle, with even weight down both seat bones and legs and an even feeling down both reins. Each time I’m sitting trying to help her to maintain an even rhythm and increasing the number of strides I sit for, as she relaxes more. When I can achieve this easily and consistently, I then ask for the canter strike off. The difference has been pretty spectacular and all of a sudden the canter transitions have become so much more effortless and relaxed and light and uphill. More like travelling gracefully up an escalator rather than launching into space! These break throughs with the young horses are always so exciting and rewarding. Whilst she’s a quick, smart mare, she really lacks confidence in herself and its amazing to feel her start to trust in her own natural ability.
On Wednesday we had a family trauma, as our most influential team player slipped off the radar, a fact I was blissfully unaware of until bedtime. As those of you who have met my feral child know, since birth he has been inseparable from ‘Dada’ the smelly brown rabbit. ‘Dada’ provides the most spectacular service to our family, he is I guess, a third parent or nanny figure. Always on hand to offer comfort and council, to lend an ear to wipe away tears and snot and is often used by Angus to mop up spills, he is in short, a master of all trades. Turns out that on Wednesday, after almost three years of employment, ‘Dada’ decided to take an unscheduled, unauthorised 24 hours off. What followed for those of us left behind, was a nuclear explosion of emotions. No one slept. Everyone cried. A lot. It was, a state of emergency. The house was turned upside down two dozen times and every bush, hedge and bin searched outside. Even the contents of the chicken house, which had been cleaned out that day had to be sieved….. At 8 am the next morning, I pulled up the blind in the spare bedroom to discover ‘Dada’s’ exotic holiday destination. I was Euphoric!
In other news I’ve renewed my emergency first aid certificate for my teaching Insurance. I have also finally managed to find a job waitressing in a hotel on an evening. Since we moved and I no longer have the catalogue of local odd jobs I had managed to acquire down South, I have been looking to find a job local that I can fit around Angus and the horses. It’s a huge relief to have secured consistent work, because as we all no, the pot to fund equestrian dreams is one without a bottom. I made five new years goals this year, finding a job to relieve my equine induced financial pressure was the fourth one I’ve achieved so far on the list for 2019. The fifth is to be a champion. Now I have the others in place I’m glad I have the next 10 months to focus on bagging that goal too.
This week has been rounded off celebrating my sisters birthday. As siblings we a very close knit unit and so I love when they come to visit and the silliness it brings. It’s also been a great distraction from regionals, which are happening in Scotland this weekend. Whilst I haven’t been able to stop my self keeping an eye on what’s been going on, rather than feeling sad, I just feel excitement and determination towards launching an attack at Summers.